In January of this year, I was asked to speak at the 2018 TEDx UIUC event "Roots." The theme of the event was pretty straightforward - "The beginning of all things are small" (Cicero). The organizers asked me to talk about both my professional journey and the work I do around diversity in finance/investing.

First, I was very flattered.

Then, I *may* have pooped my pants a little at the thought of giving a TEDx talk.

TedX Wide with full Ted Cropped Photo Resized.JPG

Ultimately, I of course accepted. And on April 22, 2018 I gave my talk to about 400 students, faculty, members of the Champaign-Urbana community, my mom, and Jill Kimmel (yes, THAT Kimmel).  

The talk looks at what I've identified as the three types of good and bad luck that impact all of us on our journey to success, and how we can create more good luck (or micro-opportunities) to open doors for others and effect change, specifically in the investing community.

If you've got just under 20 minutes, I hope you'll take time to watch it. If you like the message, I hope you'll take time to share it. If you utterly hate it, let me know and I'll send you a personal note of apology for the time wasted AND I'll try to prevent my mom from sending you hate mail, too. 

Posted
AuthorMeredith Jones

I seem to provide this information to newer and smaller funds often, so I thought I'd cut down on repetition and provide all you gorgeous small, new, and diverse fund managers with a short guide to early stage investors. Now start smiling and dialing!

 (c) 1980 Paramount Pictures

(c) 1980 Paramount Pictures

State Plans To Prioritize

Arizona - Has made at least one investment in a large 'emerging' manager.

Arkansas - Teachers Retirement System reportedly tabled the program in 2008 but 2011 document shows active investments in MWBE managers. 

California - Looks for EM's based on size and tenure but prohibited by Prop 209 from looking at minority status or gender.

Colorado - Colorado PERA added an "external manager portal" in 2016 to make "it easier for us to include appropriate emerging managers when the right investment opportunities develop."

Connecticut - Based on size, minority status or gender. Awarded mandate in 2014 to Grosvenor, Morgan Stanley and Appomattox. 

Florida - Looks at emerging managers on equal footing with other managers. 

Georgia - Invest Georgia has $100 million to work with venture capital and private equity firms in the state. There is an emphasis on emerging managers and emerging funds per press reports.

Illinois - Perhaps the most active emerging manager state, based on gender, minority status and location. 

Indiana - Based on size, minority status, or gender. 

Kentucky - Reported $75 million allocation at one time.

Maine - Has made at least one investment in a large 'emerging' manager.

Maryland - Very active jurisdiction with details available online for gender and minority status manager information.

Massachusetts- Includes size, minority status or gender. 

Michigan - $300 million program.

Missouri - Status based on size. 

Minnesota - Past investments in emerging managers. 

New Jersey - Status based on size. 

New York - Status based on size, minority status or gender. $1 billion mandate in 2014. $200 million seed mandate in 2014.

North Carolina - Status based on size and HUB (minority and women owned) status.

Ohio - Status based on size, minority status or gender. 

Oregon - Emerging manager program in place. 

Pennsylvania - Status based on size with preference for minority or women run funds.

Rhode Island - Plan in place from 1995.

South Carolina - Status based on size.

Texas - Actively engaged with emerging managers. Status based on size, minority status or gender.

Virginia - Status based on size, minority status or gender.

Washington - Has issued prior emerging manager RFPs.

Oh, and if you reproduce this list, be sure to cite MJ Alts. Thanks y'all!

Seed Programs to Explore

https://www.hfalert.com/documents/FG/hsp/hfa-rankings/575025_Backers.pdf

Music to Groove To While Dialing for Dollars

When I was a young lass in Nineteen Never Mind, I used to spend Christmas Day with my mom and the week after Christmas with my dad. He would come for my sister and me in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and drive us all the way to Ft. Worth, Texas for another week of holiday overeating and unwrapping.

It was about a 12-hour drive, door to door, but we tried to make the best of it. My sister, stepbrother and I would clamber into the “way back” with a cooler full of Cokes,bags brimming with healthy snacks like Pop Rocks, potato chips and Slim Jim’s, nestled securely next to my Dad’s Coors that he snuck over state lines, Smokey & the Bandit-style. There, we’ll loll about (with no seatbelts), stuffing our faces (not dying from the Pop Rock/Coke combo) and alternate singing, sleeping and snarking at one another for the entirety of the 12-hour trip.

At some point, we would inevitably get on my Dad’s nerves. There would be over-the-seat, disjointed swats, strong language and finally a threat to “TURN THIS DAMN CAR AROUND AND TAKE EVERYONE HOME.”

We kids thought that was super funny. 

What wasn’t hilarious, however, was 2016 - an epically craptastic annum bad in so many ways that it even made Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve performance look apropos.

So, while 2017 is still barely warm, I thought I’d give it a little, tiny warning.

If y’all pull the same stunts this year that you did last year, I’ll turn this year around and take us all home. At the very least, I’ll figure out how to off everyone using nothing but Pop Rocks and warm Coors. You get me?

What am I talking about specifically? Well, here are some of my key investment industry pet peeves from 2016:

Looking in the same tired places for returns, and then pretending shock when they don’t measure up – Investors from Kentucky to New York and a few states in-between reduced or redeemed their hedge fund portfolios in 2016, based in large part on lackluster “average” returns. While many point to “average returns” in the neighborhood of just under 5% though November, perhaps it’s best to look at how the best (and worst) performers are faring. Articles have shown top performing hedge funds gained 20% or more through November 2016. And over the four quarters ending 3Q2016, top HFRI decile funds gained 29.54%. The bottom decile funds lost 15.57%. So there are funds that have performed strongly over the last 12 months IF an investor was willing to look for them and perhaps take risks on lesser known, newer, nicher or funds otherwise “off the beaten path.” It kind of reminds me of the old joke “Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this…” How ‘bout in 2017, we stop doing that, lest it continue to hurt.

Using “averages” to talk about investment funds, particularly alternative investment funds – Speaking of, with the kind of return dispersion above, why don’t we stop talking about “average returns” full stop. Even when it comes to white-bread mutual funds, getting fixated on “average” returns doesn’t really help. How do I know? One of the top, non-indexed US mutual funds returned 30% in 2016. Yeah, I said 30-freakin’-percent, more than twice the return of the S&P 500. But by fixating on “average return,” no matter what the asset class, investors may in danger of writing off entire investment strategies based on normalized returns that don’t accurately represent reality. In 2017, let’s focus more on the opportunities unveiled by return dispersion and less on pesky averages, shall we? Oh, and the same thing goes for fees discussions, too.

Saying you want to hire diverse talent, but complaining that you “just can’t find any” – So I’ve heard (or read about) more than one asset management firm complain about how they’d “love to hire women and minorities” but they “just can’t find qualified applicants”, and they’re not willing to lower their standards. Come. On.

Women comprise 50.8% of the U.S. population according to the Census Bureau. Minorities make up nearly 23% of the U.S. population. Do some simple math on the number of women and minorities in a population of 323,127,513 and it boggles the mind that there are ZERO qualified diverse applicants.

Indeed, when I read or hear this, one of a few questions generally comes to mind:

  1. How homogenized is this person’s personal network and how might that impact other investment research and decisions?
  2. How much effort does this person put into finding diverse candidates? Do they contact recruiters who specialize in the area? Do they go to conferences put on by 100 Women in Hedge Funds, NASP, the NAIC, and others?
  3. If there is a pipeline problem in this person’s line of work and they genuinely want to fix it, what are THEY doing to fix this issue in the long-term? Do they bring in diverse interns? Diverse entry-level positions? Do they promote these individuals?

Inappropriate benchmarks – Why, oh why, do we benchmark every damn thing to the S&P 500? It’s become so pervasive that I just caught myself doing it above (the top performing mutual fund invests in small caps, not S&P-level stocks) and I know better. Just because it’s well known, and just because it’s been crammed down our throats by everyone from consultants to financial advisors, doesn’t mean it always fits. Small cap fund? Ixnay on the S&P-ay. Hedge funds? Can’t be expected to outperform in bull markets because they are HEDGED. Private equity & venture capital – comparing illiquid investments to a liquid benchmark seems a bit silly, no? So in 2017, let’s either agree to benchmark appropriately so we can make a sober decision about whether an investment has performed well (or not) OR let’s just decide to sell everything and invest only in the S&P 500, since it’s where it’s at, obviously.

Communicating inappropriately – This may be just a “me” thing, but in 2016 I noted an increasing number of asset managers who text investors. What. The. Actual. Hell. Texting is informal. Texting is immediate and insinuates you deserve an instant response. Texting invites typos. Texting doesn’t allow for compliance review or disclaimers. Unless you are meeting someone that day and need to say you’ll be late, early, or identifiable by the rose in your lapel, or unless that investor has given you express permission to text, don’t. The investors I know who put their mobile numbers on their cards are coming to regret it. And if you lose that, you’ll only spend more time waiting on callbacks.

So cheers, all, to a happy, healthy, prosperous, properly benchmarked 2017. May we lose fewer of my 80s idols and more of our investing bad habits.

 

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-29/hedge-fund-agonistes-not-even-donald-trump-can-ease-the-pain

http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/12/new-hedge-fund-launches-fall-total-capital-increases-record/

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-29/the-year-s-top-stock-picker-didn-t-follow-the-news

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00

Photo credit:

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_artzzz'>artzzz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning pretty colors. Kids are back in school. There is a real possibility of leaving my air-conditioned Nashville home without my glasses fogging upon hitting the practically solid wall of outdoor heat and humidity. And like any good Libra lass, I’m celebrating a birthday.

That’s right, it’s time for my annual orgy of champagne, mid-life crisis, chocolate frosting and introspection. Oh, and it’s time to check the batteries on the smoke detectors – best to make sure those suckers are good and dead before I light this many candles.

One of the things I’ve noticed in particular about this year’s “I’m old AF-palooza” is how much time I spend thinking about sleep. On any given day (and night), I’m likely to be contemplating the following questions:

  1. Why can’t I fall asleep?
  2. Why the hell am I awake at this hour?
  3. How much longer can I sleep before my alarm goes off?
  4. Why did I resist all those naps as a kid?

I even bought a nifty little device to track and rate my sleep (oh, the joy’s of being quantitatively oriented!). Every night, this glowy orb tracks how long I sleep, when I wake, how long I spend in deep sleep, air quality in my bedroom, humidity levels (in the South – HA!), noise and movement. 

 To sleep, no chance to dream

To sleep, no chance to dream

Yes, I’ve learned a lot about my nocturnal habits from my sleep tracker – for example, I move around 17% less than the average user of the sleep tracking system, I’m guessing due to having two giant Siamese cats pinning me down - but the one thing I didn’t need it to tell me was that I SUCK at sleep.

I’m not sure when I went from “I can sleep 12 hours straight and easily snooze through lunch” to “If I fall asleep RIGHT NOW I can still sleep 3 hours before my flight….RIGHT NOW and I can still get 2.75 hours…1.5 hours….” but it definitely happened.

I don’t drink caffeine. I exercise. I bought a new age aromatherapy diffuser and something helpfully called “Serenity Now” to put into it. I got an air purifier, a new mattress and great sheets.

But no matter what I try, I am a terrible sleeper.

I’ve concluded that it must have something to do with stress. I do spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about life, the universe and everything, so perhaps that’s my problem.

So in honor of my 46th year on the planet, I decided to compile a list of the top 46-investment related things I worry about at night. They do say admitting the problem is the first step in solving it, after all.

In no particular order:

  1. $2 trillion increase in index-tracking US based funds, which leads me to…
  2. All beta-driven portfolios
  3. Short-term investment memory loss (we DID just have a 10 year index loss and it only ended in 2009…)
  4. “Smart” beta
  5.  Mo’ Robo – the proliferation (and the dispersion of results) of robo-advisors
  6. Standard deviation as a measure of risk
  7. Mandatory compliance training - don’t I know not to take money from Iran and North Korea by now?
  8. Spurious correlations and/or bad data
  9. Whether my mom’s pension will remain solvent or whether I have a new roommate in my future
  10. Politicizing investment decisions
  11. Did I really just Tweet, Blog or say that at a conference?
  12. Focusing on fees and not value
  13. Robo-advisors + self-driving cars equals Skynet?
  14. Going through compliance courses too quickly & having to do them over again
  15. Short-term investment focus
  16. Will I ever have to wait in line for the women’s bathroom at an investment event? Ever?
  17. Average performance as a proxy for actual performance versus an understanding of opportunity and dispersion of returns
  18. The slow starvation of emerging managers
  19. Is my industry really as evil/greedy/stupid as it’s portrayed
  20. Factor based investing – I’m reasonably smart – why don’t I get this?
  21. Dwindling supply of short-sellers
  22. Government regulatory requirements, institutional investment requirements and the barriers to new fund formation
  23. “Chex Offenders” – financial advisors and investment managers who rip off old people (and, weirdly, athletes)
  24. The vegetarian option at conference luncheons – WHAT IS THAT THING?
  25. Seriously, does anyone actually read a 57-page RFP?
  26. Boxes...check, style, due diligence...
  27. Tell me again about how hedge fund fees are 2 & 20…
  28. The markets on November 9th
  29. The oak-y aftertaste of conference cocktail party bad chardonnay
  30. Drawdowns – long ones mostly, but unexpected ones, too
  31. Dry powder and oversubscribed funds
  32. Getting everyone on the same page when it comes to ESG investing or, hell, even just the definition
  33. Forward looking private equity returns (see also: Will my mom’s pension remain solvent)
  34. Will my investment savvy and sarcasm one day be replaced by a robot (see also: Mo’ Robo)
  35. After the election, will my future investment jobs be determined by my membership in a post-apocalyptic faction chosen by my blood type?
  36. How many calories are in accountant-provided, conference giveaway tinned mints? (See also: conference chardonnay)
  37. Why are financial advisors who focus on asset gathering more successful than ones that focus on investment management? #Assbackward
  38. Dunning Krueger, the Endowment Effect and a whole host of ways we screw ourselves in investment decision making
  39. Why divestment is almost always a bad idea
  40. Active investment managers – bless their hearts – they probably aren’t sleeping any better than I am right now
  41. Clone, enhanced index and replication funds – why can’t we just K.I.S.S.
  42. The use of PowerPoint should be outlawed in investment presentations. Like seriously, against the actual law - a taser-able offense.
  43. Will emerging markets ever emerge?
  44. Investment industry diversity – why is it taking so looonnnnggg?
  45. Real estate bubbles – e.g. - what happens to Nashville’s market when our hipness wears off? And is there a finite supply of skinny-jean wearing microbrew aficionados who want to open artisan mayonnaise stores that could slow demand? Note to self, ask someone in Brooklyn….
  46. Did anyone even notice that hedge funds have posted gains for seven straight months?

Yep, looking at this list it’s little wonder that sleep eludes me. If anyone can help alleviate my “invest-istential” angst, I’m all ears. In the meantime, feel free to suggest essential oils, soothing teas and other avenues for getting some shuteye.

 

Sources and Bonus Reading: 

Asset flows to ETFs: https://www.ft.com/content/de606d3e-897b-11e6-8cb7-e7ada1d123b1

Recent HF Performance (buried) http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/10/hedge-fund-assets-flows/

HF Replication: http://abovethelaw.com/2016/10/low-cost-hedge-fund-replication-may-threaten-securities-lawyers/

Average HF Fees: http://www.opalesque.com/661691/Global_hedge_funds_slicing_fees_to_draw_investors169.html

Political Agendas & Investing: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/10/03/murphy-adds-plank-to-platform-no-hedge-funds-in-pension-and-benefits-system/

Asset Gathering vs. Investment Mgmt: http://wealthmanagement.com/blog/client-focused-fas-more-profitable-investment-managers

World's Largest PE Fund: http://fortune.com/2016/10/15/private-equity-worlds-largest-softbank/  

Spurious Correlations: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-14/hedge-fund-woes-after-u-s-crackdown-don-t-surprise-sec-s-chair

Short-Term Thinking - 5 Months Does Not Track Record Make: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/14/venture-capitalist-chamath-palihapitiyas-hedge-fund-is-outperforming-market.html

 

A few weeks ago, I attended an interesting and informative event on women and investing. One of the sessions was focused on how to increase gender parity within the investment industry. The discussion eventually coalesced around five key drivers of diversity in investments: Pipeline, Parenting, Presence, Pay and Promotion.

Posted
AuthorMeredith Jones

Because of the research I’ve done on gender and investing, and, let’s face it, because I am an opinionated and often colorful commentator on all things investing, I get asked one question a lot.

What can we do to fix the gender imbalance in investing?

I think some people expect me to come up with a quick and pithy hack to fix the problem. Something akin to Ronco’s “Set it and forget it!”

It’s likely that some folks want me to utter the dreaded Q word (“quota”), although they should really know by now that’s just not how I roll.

A very, very few want me to say “there is no problem” so they can get back to other matters.

But almost no one really wants to hear the truthful answer to the question, which is this: “I’m not sure what the answer is.”

One thing I am positive about is that the answer is as complex as the problem, much of which is rooted in bias. Now this is not necessarily your grandparent’s or even your parent’s bias. Thankfully the days where consumers were likely to be treated to an ad like this are gone. 

But if you are human, you have bias. Period. And here’s how those biases (both men’s and women’s) might be impacting the number of women in investing:

It Starts Early – A study by Jane Stout, Nilanjana Dasgupta, Matthew Hunsinger, and Melissa A. McManus of UMass Amherst found one of the reasons women may not pursue math is rooted in bias. When faced with a male math professor, 11% of women attempted to answer questions posed to the class at the beginning of the semester. At the end of the semester, that number dropped to 7%. In contrast, female students only attempted to answer questions posed by a female professor 7% of the time at the beginning of the semester, but attempted to answer 46% of the time by the end of the semester. Similar trends were shown in other areas of the classroom experience, including after class requests for help, confidence and test taking (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_hidden_brain/2011/03/psychout_sexism.html) With less than 1 in five math & science professors at top universities women, it is easy to see that the pipeline could narrow early.

The Pipeline Shrinks Further - In 2014, only 37% of MBA applicants were women, and of those, only 6% pursued investment banking compared with 11% men in that field. Also in 2014, 77% of investment analysts were men, who were 20.3% more likely to get an early analyst offer than women. A 2011 Vault study of the largest investment banks in the US found only 25% of staffers were women, 11% of executives were women and only 3% of CEOs at these firms were women per Catalyst. While it is difficult to single reason for these low numbers, culture, mentorship, appeal, and a lack of role models likely all come into play.

Hiring Hurdles – Early last year, Marc Andreessen took copious amounts of, um, “poop” for stating that he has no female partners at his firm because he’s tried to hire one and each time she turned him down. Obviously, there must be more than one qualified female applicant out there, so why isn’t a venture capital magnate like Andreessen seeing them? Part of may spring from the bias in the hiring process.

A study published in the American Psychological Association called, “Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality” showed that subtle word choice differences in job postings impacted who responded to those postings. For example, the following ad (http://www.eremedia.com/ere/you-dont-know-it-but-women-see-gender-bias-in-your-job-postings/#) was re-written with feminine and masculine themed words. The feminine ad, perhaps not surprisingly, attracted more women applicants. Now think about the ways we tend to describe asset managers and perhaps it’s not so mysterious why the pipeline has historically sucked. 

Assuming that women do apply for an investment role they have to make it through the resume gauntlet. A recruitment firm created a resume and sent it to 1000 hiring managers. Half of the resumes were attributed to Simon and half were attributed to Susan. At large firms, Simon was preferred over Susan 62% to 56%. Women hiring managers felt Susan matched 14 of 20 job attributes, while Simon matched six, and male hiring managers felt exactly the opposite. (http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/the-same-resume-with-different-names-nets-different-results/news-story/a2a182fb4570e948c27ce63139ee66b1) The upshot? Bias, bias everywhere.

Promotional Considerations – If women do enter the investment arena, they then still have to work their way to the top. Even workplaces like Barclays Capital, who just shared they now employ more women than men (51% to 49%) struggle when it comes to women in the C-suite: 80% of top level positions at Barclays are held by men. The list of potential reasons for this are endless, but a great list can be found in this article, http://www.businessinsider.com/subtle-ways-women-treated-differently-work-2014-6, which details the biases women face when climbing the corporate ladder. Chief among them? Mommy track, networking opportunities, participation in meetings (air time, interruptions), expressing displeasure, etc.

At the end of the day, it is supremely difficult to find a simple fix to these issues. Unconscious bias is, in a way, more difficult to deter because it’s, well, unconscious. These behavioral patterns are pretty inaccessible to the conscious mind and therefore can be very difficult to change.

However, for those firms that are looking to improve their diversity metrics, or those investors who are looking to improve their ratio of male to female money managers, it can be helpful to at least recognize where some of the issues arise and to take steps to guard against the biases where we can. For example, there is software that can create “gender neutral” job postings. Blind resumes can help avoid the Simon-Susan conundrum. Having mixed teams of interviewers can help to balance male and female hiring and promotion biases. Groups like Rock the Street Wall Street (http://www.rockthestreetwallstreet.com) and Girls Who Invest (http://www.girlswhoinvest.orgcan help young women overcome their own biases towards math and finance. Certainly, there are a lot of changes required, but they could potentially add up to better gender diversity over time. 

To be clear, no woman I know is asking for special treatment when it comes to hiring of any kind (employment, fund selection, etc.). Every single woman with whom I speak wants to earn their place in investment management and is willing to get scrappy when required. But, in the immortal words of Paul Simon, women do want to know that the “cross is in the ballpark.” Until we can all figure out how to mitigate some of our biases, that may be hard to ensure. 

Sources: In addition to those cited throughout - Graduate Management Admissions Council, Universum, http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5492

Posted
AuthorMeredith Jones

As y’all recover from the excesses of fried turkeys, stuffed stockings, too much ‘nog and an overdose of family time, it seems like a good time to catch up on some light reading. So, in case you missed them, here are my 2015 blogs arranged by topic so you can sneak in some snark before you ring in the New Year.

Happy reading and best wishes for a joyous, profitable, and humorous 2016.

 Happy Holidays from MJ Alts!

Happy Holidays from MJ Alts!

HEDGE FUND TRUTH ANIMATED SERIES

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/6/29/hedge-fund-truth-series-hedge-fund-fees

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/6/1/the-most-hated-profession-on-earth

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/3/2/the-hedge-fund-truth-launching-and-running-a-small-fund

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/1/19/savetheemergingmanager

WOMEN AND INVESTING

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/12/13/dear-santa

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/11/16/not-so-fast-times-at-hedge-fund-high

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/9/25/doing-well-doing-good-improving-investment-diversity

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/7/26/the-evolution-of-a-female-fund-manager

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/6/10/advice-to-the-future-women-of-finance

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/4/27/diversification-and-alpha-by-the-book

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/4/20/excusa-paloosa-the-sad-excuses-we-give-to-avoid-small-funds-gender-diversity

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/3/8/whats-in-a-name-what-manager-names-tell-us-about-diversity

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/1/26/dont-listen-to-greg-weinstein

EVERYONE HATES ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS (ESPECIALLY HEDGE FUNDS)

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/12/7/keen-delight-in-the-misfortune-of-hedge-fundsand-me

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/2/2/mfp1glk0exk0vlnqtpx6lby2ba9z8n

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/11/23/babelfish-for-hedge-funds-1

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/11/8/hedge-funds-bad-reputation

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/10/5/dear-hedgie

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/9/9/investment-professional-fact-fiction-the-business-trip

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/5/17/hedge-funding-kindergarten-teachers

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/4/14/are-hedge-clippers-trimming-up-the-wrong-tree

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/3/28/hedge-fund-high-entertainment-an-open-letter-to-showtime-about-billions

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/3/13/venn-dication-what-simple-relationships-do-dont-tell-us-about-alternative-investments

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/2/16/rampallions-scullions-hedge-funds-oh-my

FUND RAISING & INVESTOR RELATIONS

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/6/22/swingers-and-the-art-of-investor-communication

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/4/5/7-secrets-to-a-successful-fund-elevator-pitch

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/2/9/what-how-i-met-your-mother-can-teach-us-about-hiring-fund-raising-staff

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/10/26/founding-funders

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/8/28/crisis-communication-for-investment-managers

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/7/20/trust-me-im-a-portfolio-manager

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/5/4/the-declaration-of-fin-dependence

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/1/11/new-years-resolutions-for-investors-and-managers-part-deux

EMERGING MANAGERS

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/8/17/people-call-me-a-skeptic-but-i-dont-believe-them

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/10/19/are-you-the-next-blackstone-dont-count-on-it

DUE DILIGENCE

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/11/1/the-evolution-of-due-diligence

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/8/6/a-little-perspective-on-the-due-diligence-process

GENERAL INVESTING INSIGHTS

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/9/19/misusing-these-popular-alternative-investment-terms-inconceivable

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/10/11/investment-wisdom-increases-with-age-dance-skills-dont

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/8/24/the-love-of-the-returns-chase

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/8/2/slamming-the-wrong-barn-door

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/6/8/the-confidence-hubris-conundrum

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/5/10/the-crystal-ball-in-the-rearview-mirror

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/3/19/fun-with-dots-visualizing-bifucation-in-the-hedge-fund-industry

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/2/23/pattern-recognition-may-make-you-poorer

http://www.aboutmjones.com/mjblog/2015/1/5/new-years-resolutions-for-investors-managers-part-one

What do you want to read about in 2016? List topics you enjoy or would like to see more of in the comments section below.

In the meantime, gird your loins for the blog that always parties like it’s 1999, even when it’s 2016.

And please follow me on Twitter (@MJ_Meredith_J) for daily doses of research, salt and snark. 

Those of you that have heard me speak on more than one occasion have probably heard me utter the phrase "Investing in emerging managers is like sex in high school. Lots of talk, very little action." In full disclosure, Jim Dunn of Verger was the first to utter those words, but they are so apropos that I have sense borrowed them for myself once or twice. (Thanks Jim!)

This week, I had the opportunity to informally poll investors and emerging managers, this time in the form of women-run funds, and that wonderful turn of phrase proved apt once again. In fact, I could almost hear Mike Damone saying "I can see it all now, this is gonna be just like last summer. You fell in love with that girl at the Fotomat, you bought forty dollars worth of [freakin'] film, and you never even talked to her. You don't even own a camera."

Indeed, it does seem as if investors often spend a lot of time stalking the camera store, but never getting the picture. So I decided to ask the audience of managers and investors at last weeks 100 Women in Hedge Funds Senior Practitioner Workshop where we stand and what could help the situation. Here's what I learned.

1) Some women-run funds may be getting lucky, but action is still sparse. 

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

2) Managers feel that a number of things impede their ability to raise capital, but investors are focused primarily on only two issues: supply and size. 

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

3) And the answer to what would make investing in women-run funds easier? Three words: Binders of Women. Just kidding, but better data sources for women-run funds, better consultant buy-in and the mysterious answer "other" all ranked pretty high. Some of the suggestions for "other" included more seed capital to help overcome AUM objections and more networking with managers you don't already know. 

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

And, while these responses were specifically geared towards women owned and women run funds, in my conversations with investors, the issues are not entirely dissimilar for minority owned and run funds, or really any other emerging manager. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, let's work the problem and see if there aren't good solutions to these issues. It will be healthy for me to have to come up with a new, creative and vaguely offensive way to describe the industry. 

And please take a moment to support 100 Women in Hedge Funds as they are part of the solution and the reason I could run this quirky poll in the first place!

Posted
AuthorMeredith Jones

I learned two important lessons from writing my book: Women of The Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too).

  1. You can make hundreds of dollars writing a book, and,
  2. Writing a book makes you (at least) temporarily insane.

At the height of my book-induced anxiety, I decided to try an experiment. I decided that I would stop focusing on typos, PR, and what people would think of my research and that I would instead focus on other people. Hopefully, by doing good deeds for others I could do good and do well at the same time.

I kept a running list of my daily good deeds. I bought a massage gift certificate for my hair stylist (if you had to mess with my hair, you’d deserve one, too). I took a milkshake to a friend in the hospital. I bought Starbucks for 3 strangers behind me in line. I chased a neighbor’s loose dog down the street and brought it back to its fenced-in yard. I worked with charities and stray animals. I donated to good causes and I gave folks home-grown tomatoes (as every good southerner should do).

And guess what? At the end of the day, I knew I had made a difference. And I felt better. The folks around me felt better and, although the impact was, I’m sure, small, it was something.

Because of the research that I’ve done around diversity and investing, I often get asked how we can increase the number of women (and minorities) in the investment ranks, and I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the solution.

As I was reflecting recently on my own mission to create positive change, I realized that the answer to the diversity conundrum may not be that dissimilar.  Perhaps we can effect change with a basic concept that we’re all extremely familiar with. Let’s Compound Diversity.

We all know how critical mentoring is to success in this industry. There isn’t a single interview in my book that doesn’t at least mention the presence of at one significant (male or female) mentor. But we also know that mentoring is a time consuming task. And that often, the process starts too late, after the diversity funnel has already begun to narrow.

So instead, let’s focus on what I like to call “Mentoring Moments.” These are opportunities for you to help a women advance that don’t require a year-long (or life long) commitment, but which still can have an enormous amount of impact within your firm and across the industry.

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

What is a mentoring moment you may ask?

It’s when you can include a junior woman in on a sales pitch, due diligence, or board meeting they might otherwise not be invited to.

It’s when you email a job description to your network to help ensure that at least one woman has a seat at the interview table.

It’s getting an extra pass to a conference and giving it to a junior colleague who might not otherwise be selected to go.

It's ensuring that diverse firms have a seat at the table when competing for investment mandates, and awarding that mandate if that firm is the best fit. 

It’s when you send a firm-wide email about someone’s great work that might otherwise go unnoticed or unsung.

In short, it’s the million little ways you can help advance women and minorities in finance and build diversity in the industry.

But mentoring moments don’t end at work – they can and should happen outside of the office as well so that we increase the number of girls and women that are potentially interested in finance and investment to begin with.

In a prior blog, I discussed how girls are less likely to get an allowance than boys and that girls are less likely to be paid for chores than boys.

I showed statistics that pay disparity starts early, with girls making less for the same chores. Boys even make more for babysitting, despite the fact that 97% of all babysitters are female.

Girls also report that they are less likely than boys to be talked to about how to finance college or budgeting or other money matters.

So start your mentoring moments early. With allowances, and discussions about what you do at work and college funding and career progression. My mom made me do little pop quizzes in math (Quick! Convert that mile marker to kilometers!) when I was a girl to ensure I was never intimidated by numbers.

Picture this: A fellow panelist at the CFA Women’s Conference in San Antonio caught her daughter and her friend playing dress up and asked what they were getting ready for. Her daughter’s answer? “We’re going to a board meeting.”

Amen.

It’s our job to help future financial professionals that may not look like the ones you normally see on CNBC know that investing is cool, and that because you’re helping other people achieve their financial goals, can be also looked at as doing well while doing good.  

And if everyone (male and female!) who reads this blog commits to just five mentoring moments over the course of the next year, think of the difference we can begin to make. Your five mentoring moments will compound, and 200 mentoring moments, and, with luck, those moments will continue to compound as those women and girls embark on their own mentoring moments. And thus, the Compound Diversity movement takes hold.

We can make a difference. One moment at a time.

If you’re willing to take the challenge I’ll even make it easy for you. Here’s a form you can print and fill in as you accomplish your five mentoring moments. First one that fills it in and sends me a copy gets a copy of my book and a bottle of small batch, super tasty Southern bourbon, on me. 

 (c) 2015 MJ Alts

(c) 2015 MJ Alts

Posted
AuthorMeredith Jones