News at Smith

CFP Event Explores Diversity and the Bottom Line

Dec 16, 2020

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When it comes to diversity, the investment industry has a ways to go.

That fact, while well known, was further illuminated this month in a survey from the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative (DAMI) and discussed in “Diversity and the Bottom Line,” a webcast hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The survey of investment consultants “shows what many of us already know: the profound and persistent whiteness and maleness of the key decision-makers in an important part of the industry,” Robert Raben, founder of The Raben Group, said in the webcast. The Raben Group organizes DAMI, which has released its consulting diversity survey every year since 2018.

The DAMI survey was completed by 16 of the largest investment consultants. It revealed that, on average, consultants’ workforces were 73% white, 10% Asian American, 7% African American and 6% Latino. Firm ownership was 80% white and 70% male, while senior management was 81% white and 61% male.

Diversity can have a major impact on a firm’s bottom line, noted Russell Wermers, Dean’s Chair in Finance and Director of Smith’s Center for Financial Policy. Wermers led the webinar discussion, which drew about 100 participants.

“Diversity is one of the most important issues facing the finance industry right now, and it’s essential that we examine the issue closely,” Wermers said of the webinar. “We really value the opportunity now to be able to bring together key members from the asset management industry for a robust and honest discussion that will move the industry forward in the right direction. One major theme that panelists brought out in this webinar is that data on the level of diversity within asset management companies, and their consultants, is lacking – and is needed to better understand this problem. Panelists expressed a view that regulatory agencies, such as the SEC, should take the lead in gathering this information.”

Wermers and Raben were joined in the webinar event by Gilbert Garcia, managing partner at Gilbert Hamilton Associates, and Juan Martinez, vice president, CFO treasurer at the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Garcia and Wermers are both on the SEC’s Asset Management Advisory Committee, where Garcia heads the diversity subcommittee. The webinar event is part of CFP’s Second Objective Function Series, exploring environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in finance.

The FundFire investment industry online trade publication wrote more about the event. For more, read: Consultants Remain Mostly White, but Grow More Willing to Share Diversity Data.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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