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Women the Profitable Bet on

Women the Profitable Bet on

Anne Tolmunen, from Axa IM, manages a fund. This fund invests only in companies that clearly bet on including women managers in their decision-making bodies.

Finance has lagged behind the great sorrows of the world. Where they were in the climate emergency, in the migratory crises; in the inequality of the planet. 

Now they look at women and know they have failed them too. And they run towards them. Next year – according to the Boston Consulting Group consulting firm – they will control 32% of the Earth’s wealth, about 65 billion euros. They will also inherit 70% of the prosperity that is transmitted in the next two generations. Suddenly, finance has discovered the gender perspective in investing.

But games between rhetoric and certainty continue.

Of the 16,084 portfolio managers that appear in the Citywire publication database worldwide, only 1,662 professionals, or 10.3%, are women. Of course, it is not because they are bad at handling money. Unlike. A 2015 Morningstar work said that they are as good as men. But they are missing. There are exceptions, of course.

Anne Tolmunen, Parisian, 41 years old, three daughters, dressed in black, wears her hair down and wears three hearts: the one that drives the body and two, gold, that hug the neck and wrist. She has studied in half the world. She has worked in Japan, the United States, France, and England. Since mid-2017, she has managed the Axa WF Framlington Women Empowerment Fund. A fund of about 110 million dollars that bears the word “woman” and the concept “empowerment.” Also memories. “I have to admit that when it was offered to me not many men raised their hands,” he says wryly.

Today, look back. In this time, it has achieved a return of 16.75% investing in gender diversity. Defending your own rules. They only endorse companies where at least 20% of the board of directors is made up of women or there is an identical percentage on the executive committee. That simple account leaves out 80% of the world’s firms. In the end, there is a dust, one would say, of gold at the bottom: 1,800 companies. They are the ones who really study in the management company. And only 51 will make the cut and enter the portfolio. Do not search. 

They will not find it. None is Spanish. Why? 

Perhaps because they suffer an evil that spreads through the financial system.

“The evidence suggests that in most firms, attention and intention are not turning into commitments and results. Diversity and inclusion are often still treated as a second-order priority or they simply involve filling in a box ”, relates a report by the consulting firm PwC.

Check the box of injustice. Despite the logic and despite the times. “Companies with gender diversity are more profitable”, defends Anne Tolmunen. “We are very lucky on this topic because there is a lot of published research. Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, Harvard, World Economic Forum, brokerage houses. There is clear evidence that the most inclusive companies are more profitable while also assuming less risk ”.

Women 5% of bosses

It hardly matters. Only 5% of CEOs in the United States and Europe are women. It is something even stickier than the injustice of numbers, it is something linked to a toxic culture. “There are fewer female senior managers in Japan than in China. It is not a paradox linked to economic but cultural development ”, Tolmunen clarifies. A situation, sometimes, fueled by a kind of financial Stockholm syndrome. The Harvard Business Review magazine traveled to Sweden to tell how they understood – in one of the most egalitarian countries in the world – the dialogue between finance and women. And she found that many attributed part of their success to being comfortable in a man’s environment.

“I have grown up with two brothers, and most of my closest friends are gay. To be honest, it would be more uncomfortable for me to work with women, ”a Swedish investment banker told the publication. It is obvious. Male culture imposes camouflage in it to advance in finances. So? Should women give up their femininity, their identity to be successful in the world of money? It would be an absurd abdication.

Women the profitable bet on

Finance and the planet need women.

Finance and the planet need women. “Although investors”, as recognized by the French manager, “do not look at social metrics.” Women, more than men, propose investments that have a social or environmental impact. Perhaps they are the hope of initiatives that incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) values. A still small space, it manages 250,000 million dollars (225,000 million euros) in assets, but that can detonate like the Big Bang if we think that the baby boomers will transfer 31 billion dollars to their wives and children in the next 20 years.

It is the praise of the difference. Women are different from men. “We have, for example, an opposite approach to risk. We are more cautious and the men, more aggressive ”, relates Tolmunen. “In the face of uniqueness, what is powerful is the combination of men and women. If you only have men or only women (something that does not happen, by the way, very often) making investment decisions, you lose an enriching perception of the business, reality and your relationship with clients. That is why I believe in balance ”.

The financial industry must understand — as medicine already does with its personalized treatments — that all human beings are unique. And the singular generates profits. “We are talking about investments and, logically, the return is important. But doing good does not mean sacrificing benefits. You can exclude companies with toxic culture or offensive countries and companies and give good results. This is the message, ”he observes.

It’s getting late. Anne Tolmunen’s plane to London takes off early from T4. It rains, another rarity, in the center of Madrid, and the traffic proposes an unsolvable equation. Between the drops and the humidity, in the Axa offices, a phrase distills an hour of dialogue. “Finance has lagged behind social demands,” acknowledges the analyst. Where were they when everything seemed to fall? Silence.



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