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Series Five, Episode Four: Inclusion and Opportunities in Investment Management

Karis Stander, Managing Director of Investment20/20 and Natalie Kenway, Acting Editor of Investment Week, discuss the changing perceptions and developments within investment management. Looking at the variety of roles within the industry, they highlight the significance of hiring those who may be least likely to enter this industry, due to barriers such as race and social mobility. They comment on the positive influence and impact hiring these employees has had on organisations and make recommendations to drive further change within investment management.

Links & Resources from this episode

[Video] Investment management industry – Be surprised by who works here….

Karis Stander

Karis is the Managing Director of Investment20/20 which is an industry careers service with a specific focus on widening access to diverse talent at grassroots. She joined Investment20/20 in 2014 when it was still in the embryonic stages of development and last year announced the merger with the IA.

You can follow Investment20/20 on Twitter @Investment_2020.

Natalie Kenway

Natalie Kenway is the Acting Editor of Investment Week. She first joined the publication in 2005 as junior reporter before working her way up to an editing role. She has a particular passion for covering diversity-related topics.

You can follow Natalie on Twitter @KennethGoso.

Series Five, Episode Four Transcript

Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about equality, inclusion and diversity in financial services. On the podcast, we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus, and offer lots of ideas to help drive change. Today I’m joined by Karis Stander of Investment 2020 and Natalie Kenway of Investment Week. Karis Stander is the Managing Director of Investment 2020, which is an industry career service with a specific focus, widening access to diverse talent at grassroots. She joined Investment 2020 in 2014 when it was still in the embryonic stages of development and last year announced the merger with the Investment Association. So Karis, welcome to the show.

Karis: Hi Julia. Thanks for having me.

Julia: Natalie Kenway is the acting editor of Investment Week. She first joined the publication in 2005 as a junior reporter before working her way up to an editing role and she has a particular passion for covering diversity related topics. Natalie, welcome to the show.

Natalie: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Julia: As always at the start of the show, we invite each guest to talk about what they’re up to at the moment. Karis, let’s start with you. What are you particularly focused on at the moment?

Karis: Investment 2020 is an investment management career service and our focus is accessing a more diverse talent pool and doing so at the entry level. Traditionally, the industry has focused on graduate recruitment and we’re accessing a much more diverse candidate pool than traditional graduate recruitment has done in the past.

Julia: Natalie, talk to us about what you’re up to at the moment at Investment Week.

Natalie: A few years ago we decided that diversity was a real big problem in the asset management industry and wanted to bring this to people’s attention, and all of the benefits and advantages that improved diversity would bring to the companies that we write about. We launched the Women in Investment Awards in 2017 and we had over 800 nominations for that. Last year in our second awards we have over a thousand nominations, so it clearly resonated well with our readership.

Julia: To see that growth over time is fantastic. Karis, let me come to you, first of all with Investment 2020 – I’m very keen to explore what impact that’s had.

Karis: We’ve had a great impact at Investment 2020, we’ve brought in over 1300 trainees into the industry, they are a mixture of school, college leavers and graduates, and it’s about a split 50/50, that’s not a target that we set but rather the way firms recruit, and they come from a huge diversity of different backgrounds. Over 40% come from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds. Those who come from university, about 57% come from non finance faculty backgrounds. Many of them are first in their family to go to university, and I’ve got about 38% women. There’s a huge diversity of the young people who come in. But what for me really resonates is the feedback we get from firms, you know, they say these young people bring with them, they are willing to learn, they roll up their sleeves, they’re super excited, believe this is a fantastic opportunity and recognise that they probably wouldn’t have got an opportunity to access our industry had it not been for the programme.

I think unintentionally over time our entry level points have narrowed in terms of the diversity of the intake and make it actually quite impenetrable for many people. The feedback we get from firms is really important because this is about something that demonstrates worth to the business. These young people come on a one year training programme, they’re not guaranteed a permanent position. It’s up to them to really prove that they are value to the business. It’s good to see that 75% of them are offered a permanent position. So they transition and roll off into the business. The feedback we get from firms is that it drives a cultural change bottom up, and often you have the layer just above the trainees who sometimes are getting a little bit complacent within their roles, and that they see these young people come in driving change and recognise that they too need to drive change and raise the bar. That’s really positive for the business.

Julia: It sounds like it’s been incredibly effective. As you look ahead to this year and perhaps on into next year, where are you focused at the moment?

Karis: We’re focused on two main areas. The first is working with our corporate partners in that we get the COO, senior leaders who are really bought into it. We’ve got the HR’s who typically manage the programme, and then of course the hiring managers. But of course hiring managers are across the entire part of the business. We get to work with those who are very much on board and who would like to take young people on, and very much want to embrace difference. We don’t necessarily get to see the hiring managers who don’t. What we would like to do and we’ve started doing is working with the business so that we can address the ‘hows’. Because I think if we’re really going to drive a change, it is what is it that makes people sometimes a little bit afraid to hire people when you’re looking at hiring for potential, and they don’t necessarily have a track record, they’re an unknown entity. If we address the ‘hows’, I think that breaks down the fear. That’s where we started focusing. How do you hire for potential, and when you take a young person who hasn’t necessarily had work experience within the industry, what do you start to look at and how do you start looking at your job descriptions? What is the interview process?

Julia: We talk a lot on the show about the middle management layer. Some people refer to it as the sticky middle, some people the permafrost layer, that’s the hiring manager layer. Exactly as you described it so well, which is that layer that is looking to hire in talent in order to generate performance.

Karis: Absolutely. I think a lot of people, certainly the people that we deal with are very much on board our messaging and they want to see change, but enabling people to be able to do that is really important. They want to learn from other people who’ve been successful in being able to do that. It’s really important to showcase success, showcase success within businesses. So if we look at all the 40+ firms that we work with, they’ve got phenomenal examples of success, and perhaps the story can be better told internally, and also externally within the industry so people can start to see, “ if they can do it, we can do it, and it actually does work”. It’s not something to be afraid of, sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown.

The other area that we’re focused on working with is we’ve been very successful in navigating the education industry at schools and colleges and universities in order to get in front of the people that we would like to get in front of, who haven’t necessarily thought of our industry. In fact, we know from the research we’ve done that many young people do not know what the investment management industry does, and our research indicates that investment management is rock bottom when it comes to understanding within the different niches within financial services.

There’s sometimes negative perceptions when it comes to pursuing a career within financial services. What we are doing is working with young people, especially those who are furthest from the industry, who genuinely don’t have mums and dads who work within professional services, who don’t have the support necessarily within their schools, colleges and universities on how to be successful at interview. What we found is, and feedback from firms and what we found also in terms of driving young people to our firms for the opportunities we have, are they making it through to the next stage? Where are the areas where it’s falling down?

What we’ve identified is some of the stumbling blocks, and a recent programme we have called Think Investments, which we’re currently piloting, but we’ll roll out more extensively, is working with young people who are furthest from the industry, many of whom from disadvantaged backgrounds. Looking at those areas, making sure that they understand the impact of social media, that they understand that a handshake and eye contact at interview is so critical. What it means to be able to answer interview questions, especially for the firms who don’t necessarily delve to the next layer, are they prepared? How do they manage themselves at the assessment centre?

I think these are the skills which are not a barometer of future potential, but these are skills that are learned. We’re starting to work with them to see how we can teach them, so that they can ultimately be successful. Then have a tremendous impact on the firm themselves.

Julia: Wonderful. Let me bring Natalie in at this point because you’re an industry commentator, and you look at all of the initiatives that are happening out there. I suppose my first question is, what’s the appeal of the industry that you cover?

Natalie: I think it’s probably at the moment from outsiders, is the lack of appeal, because I think as Investment 20 highlighted last year with the YouTube video, many people’s perception of the industry is that it’s a lot of old white men wearing braces, smoking cigars. You can’t enter the industry unless you have a private education or a maths degree. When we all know that that’s very far from the truth, and it’s a real shame because there are opportunities for lots of careers in the investment management industry such as roles in marketing, technology, compliance, PR, journalism. There’s so many opportunities out there and we need to educate people about that.

I’m from a working class background myself and when I speak to my friends about what I do, they were baffled by why I enjoy it so much. We definitely need to go out and educate people about that.

Julia: You talk about the YouTube video as well, we’ll make sure that YouTube video’s on the website as well so that anybody who’s listening can go and find it. It is a fantastic video. They have a lineup of students if I’ve got this correct, and they say, “Who do you think most works in investment banking or investment management?” Of course their assumptions are proven completely wrong. It’s incredible. Natalie, I’ll ask you this question. When people have come through something like the Investment 2020 scheme, what do you think particularly appeals to them once they’ve had the veil lifted about the magic of the industry.

Natalie: Like many journalists I fell into this area. I didn’t ever plan to be an investment journalist. I’ve stayed in this industry for 13 years now because there is a real community feel. There are lots of people that are willing to reach out to each other. I’ve made many friends, and there are lots of, “let’s do this for the industry” rather than being very inward looking and doing things for their own company or their own personal careers. It’s more about the greater good. Personally I don’t feel that being a female has ever held me back or put me at a disadvantage quite rightly. I also think the industry is quite innovative. In those terms it does offer lots of opportunities to people. I’ve seen lots of technology disrupting other sectors. I’m not saying that the investment industry is immune to that, but I’ve been really pleased to see how the industry has embraced that, in terms of big data and artificial intelligence. So I think that should attract a lot of the younger people to come and join us.

Julia: When you look at the industry do you think there are some areas where we might fall short? Should there be some more focus on either demystifying certain jobs or certain trends?

Natalie: There have been campaigns in the past about the jargon that we use and trying to break this down for the man on the street or the woman on the street, and these are clearly areas that need to be focused on. I think we are falling short in a lot of diversity areas. The gender pay gap figures last year highlighted that some asset managers have a gender pay gap of around 30-40%, which is shocking. From what I’ve seen, that have been published so far this year, they haven’t really improved much at all.

Julia: Do you think people are paying attention to that? Are you seeing some good practise in recognising that there’s a gap and helping firms to fill it?

Natalie: There was a real mixture of companies, I think that there are those that are doing a hell of a lot to improve diversity within their own firms and the wider industry and also the stock market. We’ve got people like Fidelity who have carried out a lot of research on the female investor and how to embrace more females into the investment community. LNG Investment Management and Hermes have decided to use their investment clout to vote against all male boards or where females are not highly represented, and the LNG Investment Management team have also launched the Girl Fund, which some people have said it’s quite gimmicky, but it will only invest in companies that meet certain diversity criteria. I think for a company that has one trillion pounds in assets under management, that’s going to have far reaching impact, hopefully.

Julia: And money talks, that’s the truth of the matter, and if that’s beginning to have an impact and suddenly we hear that across the board where regulators are paying more attention, legislators are paying more attention and investors are paying more attention in terms of where they put their money as well. I’m going to open up the questions to both of you, which is what are we learning along the way? There’s wonderful initiatives, certainly a great focus on it. There are some areas, exactly as you were saying, Natalie, that some organisations are really thinking about. What are we learning on the way and what can we do to accelerate change?

Karis:  I think when we look about what we’re learning along the way, is how do we support those who traditionally have made up our industry in order for them to feel that they’re part of the journey and that this is a good thing for them. It’s a good thing for their departments. It’s a good thing for the business. I think that’s really essential. Make sure that we influence and we get that greater buy in, and that it is well understood that embracing difference is important and is the lifeblood of the investment management industry.

Julia: It’s really important that we don’t alienate anybody on the way. Absolutely, I agree with that. Natalie, is that what you think about in terms of how organisations are embracing change and accelerating change?

Natalie: I think it’s really important that we do empower the broader workforce to support diversity aims and that includes like you’ve already talked about, the middle management, and while we are being diverse, we also need to remember to be inclusive, and that’s why we at Investment Week celebrated International Women’s Day and International Men’s Day. The male role models within the industry are really important. We need them to champion our cause, the rest of the workforce to back it as well.

Julia: I think a really key thing is about how do we extend even further, and its so wonderful Karis, to hear you talk about how you’re extending out into thinking about your gender split, and then also ethnic minority split as well. What are you doing to extend even further? I’m thinking obviously continuing work in ethnic minority groups, but also regionally as well. Because the great thing about the investment management community, it extends right the way across the UK as well. I’d love to hear more about that.

Karis: For us, we work with over 3700 schools, colleges and universities and careers organisations, and they’re all very much across the UK. So they’re not just centred around the southeast or around Scotland where obviously most of the hubs are. Speaking to schools for example who are in Wales and Northern Ireland. I do think that young people, they move for university, so they also would move for a job. It’s about ensuring that there is a broad understanding and a favourable understanding about what our industry is about. I do feel we’ve done a great job in navigating the education landscape, but more can be done. This is about creating a structured approach, and for me where I’m going to be focusing and looking at is, how do we build careers understanding, looking at the 14-16 bracket, you then build from the 16-18 bracket. You then build as people if they choose to go onto university, so that people have a choice about when they decide to step off the education ladder. The broad understanding about the industry and the skills, I think that’s really critical. What are the skills that employers are looking for?

We know that jobs change all the time. We’re going to see a huge amount of change with artificial intelligence. It’s how do you future proof yourself the jobs that you don’t even know that are out there, and then starting to build with the communities about how do you articulate the skills that you already have so that it resonates with employers and it’s linking those two together. I think what’s really important is work experience. We’ve seen, I would say, a woeful lack of work experience from our industry. I do think that as we’re starting to see a change and understanding about how entry routes need to be opened up, that there is a desire to have work experience.

You typically see your internship programme that feeds your graduate programme, but less so on the school leaver side. As part of our Think Investment programme that I mentioned earlier, we do have a work shadowing day included, and I have been overwhelmed by a firm’s response. Now our 65 young people, many of them are actually going to be going on a double rotation because we’ve got more firms than we’re actually doing with the students, which is a brilliant position to be in.

Julia: Most unusual to hear that as well. I mean usually it’s the other way around where you have lots of work, you know, people wanting to do work shadowing or work experience knocking on doors and people going, “Oh, it’s that time of year again.” For the work experience, it’s amazing. As you look at the world, Natalie, do we have a strong enough pipeline of talents coming through, and particularly thinking about the disruption that’s happening in the industry as well. You were talking earlier about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Karis just mentioned that too. Do you think we’ve got the talent we need today?

Natalie: I think it’s really encouraging to hear what Karis and Investment 2020 are doing, and to use the words of City Hive’s Bev Shah, “we need to continue to bang the diversity drum to get that talent pool through, educate people about how important the investment industry is and the role it plays in society and people’s everyday lives.”

Julia: Let’s take a moment to turn to Cynthia and Robert for some research to support today’s discussion.

Cynthia: The 2017 Robert Walters research paper explored strategies that employers can use to access more diverse talent pools in order to create a workforce that is more diverse and inclusive. In this study, 45% of employers believe their current recruitment tools were ineffective at helping diverse candidates find a company which was a good fit. 52% of employers did not ask recruitment consultancies to provide a short list of diverse candidates. Over a third of employers made use of university job fairs to source talent, but only a fifth promote themselves at job fairs not aimed towards graduates or undergraduates. Companies that don’t attend these job fairs may be limiting the range of potential candidates they come into contact with.

Robert: The Graduate Market in 2018 is an annual review of graduate vacancies and starting salaries at some of the UK’s largest employers. The analysis of graduate vacancies showed the top three graduates’ employers, banking and finance was in third place. The industry hired 3.4% fewer people than they did in 2017. The armed forces were in second place, hiring 5% more people in 2018 compared to 2017. Accounting and professional services is at the top of the list. Hiring 6.3% more people in 2018.

Julia: Thanks, Cynthia and Robert. The links to the research can be found on our website, That’s where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. Please do follow us on Twitter @divercitypod, and DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK and all good podcast channels. We’d love a rating because it all helps to promote the show.

Julia: This has been a very positive conversation and I’ve been very encouraged by what we’ve heard, but I still have to say that it’s not uncommon to walk into a conference, an investment management conference and find that it’s an all white male panel. In fact if you look at investment teams, they quite often will still be of a certain genre, as in all white and male basically. You must go to so many events Natalie, is that your experience as well?

Natalie: Yes, unfortunately. After the Women Investment Awards last year when we were getting a lot of positive feedback for championing the diversity cause, I attended a launch event of a investment company and the speaker asked the investment team to all stand up for the purpose of networking after and all white men stood up. The speaker said that the company is inclusive because even the women on reception have a stake in the business. So this just highlights that we really do have a long way to go in terms of changing the industry’s representation and mentality.

Julia: What can the industry do to change, to pick up on that point, and what should we be doing?

Karis: That example is really shocking and perception matters. We need to make sure as an industry that we’re putting a positive window and a positive face on the industry. Can we genuinely say that we can see examples, if we just look for example at firms’ websites, of inclusivity? Do we see images of women in senior positions? Do we see images of ethnicity? Do we see images of LGBT+? When we look at the executive teams and the board, do we see diversity sitting there? I think it’s really important that people consider what they put out there and how they portray themselves. Just talking about it and saying that it’s “in our DNA”, that’s just words. You need to actually demonstrate it. I think certainly, if I look at it from the lens of young people and thinking of our industry, they’re not silly, they can see if it’s just words, and they actually want to see what the firm is doing.

While you can’t necessarily wave a wand and make change the way we would like to see it, certainly in 5/10 years time, what you can do is demonstrate what you’re actively doing and how you are showcasing this as part of your achievements and what you are proud of.

Julia: I think one of these that I’m really optimistic about is watching those male role models step forward and really take the lead and get involved in diversity. It’s partly about recruitment, but it’s also about retention and motivation within organisations and corporate culture as well. I have to say it’s been a most fascinating discussion. I just want to take a moment to thank you both so much for being involved today. Thank you for being on the show.

Karis: Thank you.

Natalie: Thank you very much.

Kieron: This episode of the DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya and Robert Pinto-Fernandes for their insights. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.

To be sure of catching all our future podcasts, subscribe to our feed on iTunes, or your favourite podcast app. And, if you’ve enjoyed this episode DiverCity Podcast, remember to give us a rating or review. This all helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.