May 23, 2011

50 Women Leaders in Hedge Funds: New Study

Hedge Fund Journal recognizes women who have led by example and those with a talent for innovation

There’s been bad news for women in financial services lately, notably reports on the women-unfriendly confines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, that surfaced following Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for sexual assault. Perhaps surprisingly, there seems to be one area in financial services where women are thriving: hedge funds

A wide range of talented women populate the hedge fund sector, and women can look forward to ample opportunities in coming years as the industry grows, according to a new Hedge Fund Journal study sponsored by Ernst & Young.

The 2011 study, 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds, features well-established women in senior operational roles at single manager hedge funds and funds of funds, as well as others in prime brokerage, fund law and other areas of advice and consultancy. The key selection criterion was the level of responsibility, either through managing money or a business (or both). Hedge Fund Journal also sought to “recognize women who have led by example and those who have a talent for innovation.”

The Hedge Fund Journal survey anticipates the imminent release of AdvisorOne’s Top 50 Women in Wealth—a celebration of leaders in wealth management who are forward thinkers and who inspire other by their excellence.

The Hedge Fund Journal survey suggests that women today are managing a significant proportion of the hedge fund sector’s assets under management—if the elite 50 women are an indicator. The survey includes 30 portfolio managers who run at least $100 billion of the sector’s estimated $2 trillion in assets under management. In addition, nine COOs have responsibility for more than $100 billion of assets. “Thus, just our final 50 women have either portfolio management or operational responsibility for over $200 billion or 10% of industry assets,” the journal said.

The study’s authors doubted that minority mandates from U.S. pension funds have been more than marginally helpful to women. Indeed, they found that mainstream financial organizations, ranging from nonprofit foundations and endowments to investment banks and hedge funds “do not appear to have in place any so-called glass ceilings arresting the careers of women.” This suggests that women can look forward to increasing opportunities in the future as hedge fund assets increase.

The geographic split of the top 50 women in the survey is broadly proportional to global hedge fund industry assets, with more than half based in the U.S., about a third in Europe with the rest coming from Asia.

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