Opening Doors to Your Future


Investment firms are accepting the premise that they need to change their cultures and increase diversity. But how can we open doors for women? At the CFA Institute Women in Investment Management: Opening Doors conference, held in Montreal on 18-19 September, sessions will consider how under-represented financial professionals can move ahead in their careers.

Women and people of diverse backgrounds are under-represented in finance – Morningstar began tracking women in the investment industry in 2015, when they found that only 2% of funds were managed exclusively by women. Around 19% of CFA Institute members are women today. And even when women are included in the industry, they do not rise to management levels at the same rate as men.

Many of the traits viewed as desirable for managing equities are considered “masculine.” Madeline Heilman, professor of psychology and director of graduate studies at New York University, has been studying the perceptions of men and women for more than thirty years, and she has found that they are not just different, they are oppositional. Women can be excluded from some roles — especially in professions such as law, finance, and medicine — because people assume that they lack the masculine, agentic traits considered essential for top performance.

We need to change cultural norms, working to challenge embedded views along with overt and unconscious biases. At the Women in Investment Management conference, Heilman will discuss findings from her research on gender bias in her session on the impact of gender bias in the workplace.

The event is an opportunity to learn more about the CFA Institute diversity and inclusion report, which is based on roundtable sessions with practitioners in global finance. It offers practical tips for firms working to create more diverse teams. Also at the conference:

  • Inspirational NASA astronaut Cady Coleman will discuss her experience working in the male-dominated culture of the International Space Station. She will explain how she overcame roadblocks and learned distinctive, mission-driven leadership lessons during her time in space.
  • Bonnie St. John is a Paralympic medalist, Rhodes scholar, and economist; she will recount how she worked to overcome discrimination on many levels. St. John managed not only to rise, but to thrive, and she will discuss diversity etiquette and the power of inclusive leadership.
  • Anu Aiyengar leads mergers and acquisitions for JP Morgan Chase in North America, where she mentors young women and leads the firm’s women’s initiative. She will talk about fierce feedback, sharing her story of being misjudged based on her personal background.
  • Heather Brilliant, CFA, the CEO of Diamond Hill Capital Management and outgoing chair of the CFA Institute board of governors, will explain what it means to be an investor in the Age of Engagement. Women and young investors are driving changes to the traditional investment model, redefining success in investing to include investing with impact.

The conference will also feature Margaret E. Franklin, CFA, president and CEO of CFA Institute and co-founder of its Women in Investment Management Initiative, along incoming chair of the CFA Institute Board of Governors, Diane C. Nordin, CFA.

Networking opportunities and skill-building workshops will address topics that include creating a path to the boardroom, developing your executive presence, and building a great financial services resume.

It’s not too late — join us in Montreal to be inspired and blaze your own path to success in finance. Learn from experts, network with women and peers from diverse backgrounds, and gain new insight into opening doors and moving ahead in your career.

All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

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