Although women are underrepresented at family offices, they were more likely to hold senior investment roles than in institutional/retail asset management, according to a new research report published and researched by Family Capital, in association with Guernsey Finance.
Entitled: Women in Family Offices, the report looked at gender diversity at family offices across the world and found, unsurprisingly, women were significantly underrepresented in professional roles within the sector. The research found that only 3.5% of women were chief executives of family offices. This compares poorly with 7.5% of women who are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
The majority of respondents didn’t feel adopting quotas to improve gender equality was the right approach
Although poorly represented at the top executive role, family offices fair better when it comes to employing women in senior investment roles. The research found 20% of senior investment roles were held by women at family offices across the world. Recent research from Morningstar found that only 14% of fund managers were women.
As one of the respondents who took part in the research said: “It is all relative — look at the percentage of women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, board directors and MDs/general partners at mid-market private equity firms. By comparison, many family entities like family offices would be viewed as ‘as diverse’ or ‘more diverse’.”
The research also found women principals of family offices are rare. Only 4% of family offices have women principals, which compares with 11% of women who Forbes classifies as billionaires.
The report noted there are some notable examples of women principals who are pathfinders for future generations of women entrepreneurs and investors. They are: Oprah Winfrey’s OW Management; Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures; Dona Bertarelli’s Ledunfly, Corinne Vigreux’s Rinkelberg Capital, and Annie Chen’s RS Capital.
The survey found that few family offices had any governance structures defining gender diversity, with 80% of those surveyed saying they have no guidelines. Family offices were felt to be behind in gender diversity compared with what is going on in the broader financial services sector. Nor were family offices taking into account more comprehensive gender diversity efforts in other sectors, the respondents said.
But the majority of respondents didn’t feel adopting quotas to improve gender equality was the right approach. One respondent said: “Hiring a woman or anyone for the sake of it is not helpful in the longer term and will not bring about lasting change.”
The majority of respondents didn’t believe the lack of transparency at family offices than at listed corporations, was delaying greater gender equality. Although a significant minority (27%) of respondents did feel this was a hurdle for greater gender equality.
Unsurprisingly, almost all respondents felt charities/foundations had progressed more in promoting women than family offices.
The research also specifically looked at gender diversity within the Middle East family office sector. It found perceptions of women offering advice on wealth and investing are changing rapidly in the region.
The survey found 65% of respondents in the Middle East believe women’s role in providing wealth advice is more acceptable than five years ago.
The report used Family Capital’s database of more than 1000 family offices, mostly single-family offices, and also directly surveyed more than 30 single-family offices worldwide to gain more in-depth analysis.