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The depressing facts around the gender pensions gap: How can investment managers turn this around?


The investment management industry has begun to take a close look at its workforce and the levels of diversity within that, which has been encouraging to see.

But what about its approach to end clients? And its marketing to the outside?

A quick scan of the asset managers’ advertisements in the press – man in boat, man on bicycle, male engineer, images of planes, trains, footballs – and I think its fair to say females are not in mind when these campaigns are created.

Women are certainly not being engaged and the near 40% gender pensions gap highlights how far this goes how little reach there is to half of the population of savers.

Earlier this week, I attended the CII Insuring Women’s Futures event, where it was disclosed that, even though the Equal Pay Act is almost 50 years old, the gender pay gap is not expected to close until 2050 and, based on this, gender pensions parity is not expected until 2100. Some very scary figures.

There’s more.

Around 60% of low earners are women and 73% of part-time workers are women, while
75% of employees ineligible for pensions automatic enrolment are women.

The gender pay gap is at 17.9% in the UK, and to add that shocker, a man’s average lifetime earnings are 80% more than a woman’s.

The CII is calling for a number of rule changes at the government level such as including the gender pension gap in gender pay gap reports – so that firms can identify where they need to take action – and allowing everyone, whether they are on low pay or high pay, to be able to claim 3% employer pensions contributions.

These are all great initiatives and we sincerely hope the CII succeed with their lobbying but there is so much more companies that are managing the savings, investments and pensions of society can be doing. We need to close that gender pensions gap much sooner than 2100, which is why Research in Finance has teamed up with City Hive to give understanding on how this can be realistically addressed by asset and wealth managers with practical solutions and clear direction.

Our Gender Pensions Gap Study is unlike others already carried out as it is directly aimed at investment managers and will identify how they can drive change. It will pinpoint the ongoing pitfalls that companies fall into and carry out deep analysis through quantitative, qualitative research and focus groups on what will improve this issue, providing them with practical solutions and clear direction.

Bev Shah, CEO and founder of City Hive, commented: “Our aim is to build on existing research that has established the scale of the gap to provide targeted recommendations on how to create better connection between industry and it clients – current and future.”

Adele Gray, research director at Research in Finance, added: “We will be looking into copy, imagery, communications, mediums and brands to unearth behavioural bias, information gaps and lack of awareness/understanding.

“Albert Einstein once said ‘the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different results’, which sums up the last 10 years or more in our industry. There needs to be proper disruption and a collective industry strategy to move the market.”

I can only reiterate here that Research in Finance and City Hive are extremely passionate about creating something that will implement real change in how women are engaged with their pensions and savings, and that involves taking a thorough look at every aspect of our industry; our customers, our employees, our community.

We look forward to sharing our findings with you in 2020.

To download the proposal click GenderPensionsGapProposal_071119

Natalie Kenway

Editor & Head of Content


New “common language framework” for responsible investing


Yesterday, the Investment Association unveiled a ‘common language framework’ for responsible investing following an industry-wide consultation, which included input from a UK government taskforce, member firms and external stakeholders.

The consultation sought to address the lack of common language and framework to “define and categorise different responsible investment approaches carried out by investment managers”.

In an industry already filled with heavy jargon and a hell of a lot of acronyms, the many different terms used around responsible investing is adding further to confusion – does everyone agree on their use of sustainable, ethics, green, responsible products, not to mention ESG and SRI (those acronyms again)? Most definitely not.

In Research in Finance’s Responsible Investment Review, published in summer 2019, the lack of consistency in fund managers definitions was cited as the biggest barrier to sustainable investment by discretionary fund managers.

The outcome of the IA consultation is to label firms and funds separately and differently.

Firms may be able to tick the following boxes:

ESG integration

While funds will be able to comply with the following:

ESG integration
Sustainability focus
Impact investing

To view the full definitions click here

The IA said the aim is not to represent a standard or label in and of itself, but to create a set of industry-endorsed definitions to demonstrate the common approaches to responsible investing by asset management firms. The trade body is encouraging members to adopt the framework either at the firm or fund level or both, and communicate it clearly. It is also establishing a working group to consider the use of the framework within fund documentation such as KIDS, and to further explore the use of a UK retail product label.

Here, Annalise Toberman, author of the Responsible Investment Review and head of insight and responsible investment research at Research in Finance, gives her views on the new frameworks:

“The IA’s development of a set of responsible investment definitions should better equip the increasing number of investors who are keen to invest responsibly but who struggle to understand the arcane lingo.

“The new labels around ESG, sustainability and impact investing should also help advisers and wealth managers who understand the need to skill up on responsible investment. Many tell us they appreciate the value of ESG integration and the business opportunities provided by growing client demand for more sustainable portfolios, yet up till now they have felt overwhelmed by this burgeoning market. Our research suggests that more than a third (37%) consider the development of an industry-wide standard or taxonomy a factor that will really propel adoption of responsible investing.

“Of course, labels shouldn’t replace proper due diligence, nor should they prove too restrictive to fund managers.

Different individuals and firms interpret ESG, sustainability, and impact differently. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – there are no clear-cut solutions to complex environmental or societal issues, or easy ways to measure impact or the magnitude of an ESG risk. Fund managers should still strive for transparency regarding their own labels and frameworks, and investors and intermediaries need to make sure that funds fit specific needs.”

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