Investment Week, in association with HSBC Global Asset Management, focuses on diversity to look at the next generation of rising stars in asset management.
Photo: Alex Griffiths
30, senior manager, product development, HSBC Global Asset Management
Laura joined HSBC Global Asset Management in 2012 and is currently leading HSBC's 'Assessment of Value' project in response to the FCA's Asset Management Market Study.
She is seconded from her role in business development where she was responsible for relationships with intermediary and direct-to-consumer platforms.
Yet it could have been very different, with her route into the industry by chance rather than design.
From a young age she had ambitions to be a lawyer, but after completing her law degree she had doubts about her career path.
Being from Bristol, she applied for a role on the Hargreaves Lansdown investment helpdesk.
Laura was later able to combine her legal background with newfound interest in retail investing by joining HSBC Global Asset Management in a client services role supporting distribution and commercial teams.
In her own words: "Aligning my personal and career fulfilment has been important to me, while it can seem like a challenge, I believe opportunity is there when you look for it. I have been able to use my professional network and knowledge by volunteering for a social enterprise called MoneyGirl.
"I’ve been lucky enough to form a wide network of supporters across the industry, particularly from Women in Investment forums, who are passionate about the financial advice/asset management profession and the role we play in people's lives.
"Seeing people succeed from a range of backgrounds, skillsets and personality types and learning from their experiences has been a huge inspiration and driver in my career and confidence growth so far."
Mark Brennan32, lead fund manager, FP Foresight UK Infrastructure Income fund
Having started his career as a financial services strategy consultant with Accenture in 2010, Mark realised that he would need to find a less conventional route into buy-side investment management.
His first step towards that was to take on a strategy role within the newly formed Green Investment Bank, where he worked with the COO of this alternatives investment business to gain high level exposure.
But it was in 2017, when he joined Foresight Group, the specialist infrastructure and private equity investment manager, that he was given his real 'breakthrough opportunity' to develop the strategy and lead the management of Foresight's first open-ended investment company – the FP Foresight UK Infrastructure Income fund.
In less than three years, this fund has grown to more than £520m, delivered top quartile performance and received industry recognition, most recently through its inclusion in the Fidelity Select 50.
In his own words: "My story demonstrates that experience gained from other industries/sectors can provide a unique insight and perspective to investment management that can result in new ideas and strong performance for investors."
Dean Brown25, investment analyst, Asia, ex-Japan, Hermes Investment Management
Despite having obtained a first-class degree in BSc Banking and Finance at the University of Essex and completing his Level 1 CFA in his final year, Dean struggled to secure opportunities in finance.
This was in part, he believes, due to attending a university that does not 'traditionally' feed into the City.
However, he persevered and approached Hermes Investment Management in 2015, offering to work for free (an offer that was not taken up by the firm!).
After a two-month internship, Dean was offered a full time position in the business development management and strategy team, which led to two promotions in three years.
During this time he also played a key role in Federated Investor's 60% acquisition of Hermes in 2018.
Dean continued to demonstrate his passion for investing; passing Level 3 CFA at the age of 23, two weeks after the arrival of his son, Ronnie.
He made the full transition to the investment floor in March 2019, successfully becoming an investment analyst for Hermes Asia ex Japan.
He is now a CFA Charterholder.
Vladimir David26, credit analyst, Muzinich & Co
Born in Moldova a year after the country's independence and the collapse of the USSR, Vladimir was awarded a merit-based scholarship at the age of 15 that allowed him to continue his education in the US.
But it was his love for puzzle-solving (mathematical, psychological, lateral thinking problems) that saw his passion for investing grow.
While in his second year at the University of Chicago, where he studied psychology and economics, he started to learn about investments and the endless puzzles they present to markets.
This resulted in him pursuing a career as an investment professional, starting as an intern at a hedge fund specialist.
Emma Flaherty29, human resources and recruitment, M&G and founder of social enterprise, MoneyGirl
Emma's route into the financial services industry wasn't planned, and her background didn't present a natural path into securing a job within a professional services firm.
She attended a state school on the borders of Hackney, and was the first person in her family to attend university.
After university, she aimed to identify companies she thought would align with her core values and would provide a supportive but ambitious culture.
Although her initial application to EY's graduate scheme was unsuccessful, she persevered and was able to get an advisor level role with the company after gaining experience in a smaller firm.
From here, she has continued to build her knowledge in the front office space.
One of the biggest challenges Emma has faced in the industry is access to role models that are already working at asset management companies from similar backgrounds.
This is one of the reasons she set up the social enterprise, MoneyGirl. Aimed at women aged 18-35 from a low socio-economic background, it provides a network, events and online content to bridge the gap.
In her own words: "Understanding how to manage your personal finances is just as important as securing a good job and being able to bring together my network within the industry and young women which are just starting their journey is what makes me feel proud of my own journey despite some of the challenges."
Shazaan Gaffoor30, sales management strategist, GAM Investments
Born in France, Shazaan grew up in Paris region, in the 'banlieues', and has Sri Lankan heritage.
Encouraged by his parents, who always emphasised the importance of studies, he completed two Master's degrees in finance and economics in Institut Supérieur du Commerce and Paris Dauphine University – both ranked among the best in Europe.
In the challenging work environment following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, Shazaan was fortunate to find an internship opportunity with the Government of Dubai's Ministry of Trade in 2011; this involved moving away from Paris.
However, the risk paid off as this led to a role at Credit Agricole CIB back in Paris before he moved on to Amundi, in Singapore.
Having acquired a taste for experiencing new locations, he moved to the UK to secure his ideal asset management role as a product strategist at Standard Life Investments (now Aberdeen Standard Investments).
He has been at GAM Investments since 2018, where as a sales management strategist he helps identify, develop and implement distribution strategy priorities.
In his own words: "My experience in asset management has highlighted that it can be challenging for minorities to step up in this industry and this is due to several reasons: a lack of representation across the working classes, the underrepresentation of senior C-level profiles from diverse backgrounds and the steep economic entry conditions (i.e. university fees).
"However, I believe the industry is moving in the right direction and I hope to help increase awareness about the need for increased diversity by sharing my experiences and supporting newcomers."
Rachel Green34, associate director, institutional sales, Aviva Investors
Having grown up on a farm on the small Caribbean island of Dominica (population: 74,000), Rachel moved to the UK at the age of 17 and was the first person in her family to attend university.
Her degree allowed her the opportunity to take up a short stint in the audit and risk accounting department at a professional services firm, which was followed by a 12-month maternity cover role at Russell Investments.
It was here that she received her first glimpse into the City and the breadth of roles available.
Today, she is an active mentor to young women in the industry. As a member of the Diversity Project's #talkaboutblack steering committee, she strives to bring about more ethnic diversity within the industry working with schools, raising awareness of the variety of career options available to young people, and helping companies rethink their recruitment practices with attracting diverse talent in mind.
She is also the youngest member of the Aviva Group's shadow board, the Evolution Council – a group of 12 future leaders chosen from 18,000 employees, who provide a fresh perspective to the challenges the Aviva Group Board face.
In her own words: "Representation is extremely important. Many people cannot be what they cannot see. Having navigated my way around the industry from the back office function to a front office role.
"I use my experience to be the change that I want to see and inspiring people to achieve more than they ever thought they could be."
Shruti Khandekar27, credit research analyst, HSBC Global Asset Management
Growing up, working in finance meant being an accountant to Shruti. As an A-level student her teacher suggested financial markets as a career and she applied for some introductory programmes at major investment banks.
While there, she met with people across many different divisions and found the investment management group the easiest to talk to; having approachable colleagues was important to Shruti, especially if she was to enter a fast-paced environment with no prior knowledge.
After honing in on asset management, she completed a placement year within the industry and a summer internship.
Following this, she obtained a place on HSBC Global Asset Management's graduate programme which allowed her to experience both client facing roles and the product side of the business.
At HSBC Global Asset Management Shruti has continued to encourage diversity within the industry and through her leadership of the Diversity Project's Early Career workstream, she aims to educate students who may be unaware of, or unable to access the investment industry, but could do well as a part of it.
At the same time, bringing in people from different backgrounds will improve the industry's diversity of thought, subsequently enabling firms to better represent and make decisions for their clients.
In her own words: "Throughout my time in the industry I’ve been very fortunate to have supportive, mentors and line managers, who I can turn to for advice.
"I also work in an incredibly friendly international organisation where cultural awareness and inclusion are inherent, and my work-life balance is respected. All of this has made my journey incredibly smooth.
"Now that I am in my role, I don’t think that my previous lack of knowledge on the industry hindered my ability to build a career in it – if anything, the perspective I bring is somewhat atypical, in a good way."
Dennis Owusu-Sem32, oversight relationship manager, BMO Global Asset Management & founder of Success Talks
Dennis was drawn to a career in asset management after completing his placement year at Goldman Sachs which paved a path for him to join the industry after finishing university.
During conversations with a colleague at work, the lack of BAME role models struck a chord and he decided to do something about it.
He started Success Talks as a platform to showcase role models and provide insights for BAME professionals to progress within their career.
Success Talks has over 130,000 followers across all social media profiles, 3000+ sign ups to events and spearheaded over 30 live experiences for BAME professionals.
The organisation has gone from strength to strength since Dennis launched it, and the last conference was hosted by Morgan Stanley with over 140 BAME professionals and 18 speakers from the UK and US.
Lottie Leefe31, wealth planner, family practice, London & Capital
After studying at the Chelsea College of Arts, Lottie read interdisciplinary design at the University of West England, Bristol.
She cut her teeth in wealth management by joining a founding partner practice of St James's Place and enrolling on their academy training program where she completed her CII Diploma in financial planning.
She then joined Cazenove Capital before taking up her current position at London & Capital as a wealth planner. In the role she assists individuals who have gone through divorce or suffered bereavement with their financial planning.
Traditionally these clients may not have the level of financial literacy to make informed decisions with their wealth.
Entering the world of wealth management from a design background led to her setting up a financial well-being consultancy, The Dura Society, three years ago. Launched as a response to a desire for deeper connection between personal finance and wellbeing, she formulated a series of talks, workshops and supper clubs with themes covering everything from conscious consumption, mental wellbeing, investing and goal setting.
Through the Dura Society, Lottie wanted to provide individuals who would not normally engage with the investment management world an insight into money management and empower them to take their first positive steps to getting into a healthy position with their finances.
In her own words: "I’m pretty unconventional, forward thinking and open-minded. Having a creative approach and outlook to wealth management gives me the ability to view the industry through a different lens.
"My analytical and creative skills lend themselves well to developing deep and empathetic relationships. Understanding how people work and how to communicate effectively, noticing the emotions and values that are important to a client, beyond just managing their money is crucial."
Sophia Papi29, business development, TwentyFour Asset Management
Finance was not on the horizon for Sophia, and she could have been on a very different path had she stuck to her original plan: she had planned to study medicine having completing a biochemistry degree.
However, unsure if this was the path for her, she deferred her place.
She started at TwentyFour in 2011 and today looks after many of the group's largest wholesale clients; from discretionary wealth managers to multi-managers and global banks. She also plans the group's UK strategy each year.
Passionate about the industry and female representation, Sophia has implemented a mentoring scheme in conjunction with Queen Mary, University of London, where many employees, including herself, offer support and guidance to female students and encourage them to consider a career within finance.
Sophia also created TwentyFour's graduate programme, which is now in its fourth year.
Sophia believes a successful working culture welcomes a wide range of views and opinions, and having a more diverse workforce who are forming, shaping and taking decisions leads to better decision making and business outcomes.
Kishen Pattani29, product and fund development manager, GAM Investments
Kishen has been working within the investment management industry for just under five years.
He started his career at Santander UK working as a management consultant where after two years he was promoted to become the firm's youngest senior consultant. Identifying a mentor to help support him in his career goals and investment manager ambitions has been a challenge.
It has led him to navigate his own way through the industry and it was after speaking to a friend of a friend's brother that Kishen learnt of the CFA qualification.
He went on to pass Level 1 independently. He then found a role in product strategy and development at Hermes Investment Management before eventually joining GAM Investments.
He is responsible for all of the product initiatives in the group's Irish and UK fund ranges while managing a team.
In his own words: "As a member of an ethnic minority, I have started my career at a very interesting time. The industry has changed significantly in the past nine years with the initiatives such as Diversity in Finance, the 30% Club and indeed, Investment Week's Rising Stars recognition, which all look to promote the ideas of the 'right person for the role' and diversity.
"At this present time I feel that a lot of the initial glass ceilings that existed at the start of my career have begun to fall away and I am looking forward to further developing and continuing my career within the investment management industry."
Fabio Peyer31, EMEA marketing manager, products & services, Morningstar
At Morningstar's EMEA headquarters in London, Fabio took on the newly created role of Diversity Champion to ensure the broader topic of diversity and inclusion was placed firmly on the company agenda, acting as a liaison between senior leadership, talent and culture as well as external professional associations and organisations.
Fabio was also the driving force behind Morningstar's first Pride party held at the London office with 200 attendees including employees, clients, colleagues from the industry and industry bodies.
This was a huge step forward in terms of an event that highlighted inclusive values and served as a spring board for upcoming diversity initiatives and event opportunities.
Additionally, Fabio leads the [email protected] employee's resource group to help build a platform for LGBT colleagues in the workplace.
While Fabio has not personally experienced discrimination in the professional environment, not everyone around him has the same level of confidence.
Andrzej Pioch34, fund manager, LGIM
Andrzej's route into fund management saw him leave his hometown in Poland to undertake his bachelor degree in the Netherlands and complete a masters in Italy.
Following a graduate assessment day and an unexpected interview in a small café in Turin, he moved to London to join the asset allocation team at Aviva Investors.
He moved to LGIM, where he manages multi-asset and multi-factor funds for both retail and institutional clients in 2014.
However, Andrzej admits it took a long time for him to "consider the thing that makes me diverse as a strength, rather than something that might hold me back".
After moving to London he wanted to 'fit in' and had a clear, and as it turns out, flawed idea of what an investment manager should be like.
As a gay man, each day as he walked onto the investment floor he would dread being asked about his weekends.
However, today he believes it is his own diverse background that has been his strength and helped his career to accelerate.
It is no secret that diversity of thought leads to superior financial results, and so it is through creating a more open-minded, more tolerant, and more inclusive working community, that everyone wins, on and off the investment floor, he says.
In his own words: "It took me five years to come out to my colleagues. I tried my best to start being authentic and grow into myself professionally. It was then that I realised that the energy I was using to hide myself, could finally be used to accelerate my career.
"I now realise the significant benefits that lie in diversity in the work place, and as something to truly be celebrated. In our personal lives we can find ourselves mirrored by our peers who share the same interests and values."
Lydia Reeves28, global consultant relations, AXA Investment Managers
Lydia did not have any career role models growing up and, alongside her sister, she was the first generation in her family to go into higher education.
Going from a state school to study history at the University of Cambridge, Lydia was determined to utilise every opportunity her university offered.
She attended as many careers fairs as possible and would cold-call companies afterwards to ask about internships.
She had already completed internships in a range of industries using these methods by the time she followed a friend along to a banking and finance event - not expecting there to be anything for an arts student beyond free stationery.
Meeting a range of finance professionals with arts degrees at this event encouraged her to explore finance as a potential career path for the first time.
Lydia is optimistic that the finance sector can remove barriers to diversity and be key in influencing change in other industries.
At AXA IM, she has helped promote and grow the AXA WF Women Empowerment fund, which uses the power of investing to promote gender diversity in workplaces.
She helps with AXA IM's D&I partnerships, sitting on the Diversity Project's Early Careers Workstream Committee, and is a mentor as part of upReach's Investment Industry Springboard programme, which helps young people from less-advantaged socio-economic backgrounds break into the industry.
In her own words: "I would like to help others empower themselves to build a network and explore career options that may seem out of reach. Ultimately, I would like to use the platform this opportunity gives me to show that, no matter what your background, your life experiences and differences should be a personal strength and seen as an asset for companies."
Latrena Petkova33, senior paraplanner and operations manager, Raymond James, John Street
As a black, female, south Londoner from humble beginnings, Latrena is proud of the integral position she holds today at Raymond James, John Street. She was the firm's first hire, joining in early 2018, and has played her part in making the company a success.
For Latrena, investment into the company is paying off and she has been offered equity within the firm.
She joined the industry as a sales support administrator in 2008 after graduating from Cass Business School. Needless to say, it was a challenging time to be a new graduate seeking work in the industry, but she has spent the past 11 years working in an IFA paraplanner role or similar.
Yet at Raymond James, John Street, her role is wide ranging and has recently been focused on the operational side of the business.
Building up this advisory investment firm has been a huge project for her, so much so that she was persuaded to cut short what she had intended to be a year-long parental career break to take on the role.
In her own words: "In an industry that lacks diversity in all aspects, as a part-business owner at 33, I feel my story goes some way to show women and the BAME community that you can make your mark in the investment industry, as long as you do not allow yourself to be pigeonholed or underestimated.
"I am in a position of management, hold great responsibility within the company and I am also a shareholder. I continually make efforts to push beyond the usual parameters and break through the perceived 'ceiling' in my role. Importantly, I do not feel that this has been to the detriment of my home life."
Piya Sachdeva26, economist, Schroders
Day-to-day, Piya is an economist with a focus on Japan, but it is her passion for gender equality and work in this area that has garnered attention in recent years.
Through the Schroders' Gender Equality Network, Piya was instrumental in building a mentoring programme for 100 people across the firm ranging from those who had not been in the industry for a long time, to those with more than 20 years' experience.
She was also involved in helping the HR department set up a more formal mentoring scheme with a focus on diversity.
For Piya, the inspiration for her programme was the mentoring she has received from, among others, Remi Olu-Pitan.
In addition, Piya is an advocate for flexible working at Schroders; she was the first in her team to trial it to pursue an interest outside of work.
In her own words: "I am honoured to represent a generation of young women in asset management and hope that the industry continues to improve diversity and create equal opportunities for all. My participation in Schroders' Gender Equality Network - whose aim is to raise awareness and the profile of gender equality in the workplace – has been a valuable support in my career at Schroders."
Ralph Saturne34, senior research analyst Income Research
Ralph grew up – and still resides – in the Mattapan neighbourhood of Boston, which is home to a large African-American and Caribbean community.
A first-generation American, Ralph was born to Haitian parents who did not understand the financial markets.
At a young age, Ralph recognised the importance of financial literacy, and resolved to change that narrative for his family, friends, and himself.
As a college student, Ralph struggled to build a network at a school full of students who had inherited one.
In 2011, while studying for his MBA at Babson, Ralph sought to be what he had always wanted – a mentor. He served as the director of the Black Affinity Network, an organisation that promoted diversity and inclusion in the Babson community.
Interestingly, Ralph set out on the investment management path in high school, as a student at the Latin Academy in Boston.
It was in his first economics class, which held a stock-picking contest that he decided to ardently pursue an investment career.
Today, Ralph is a senior research analyst on the securitised team at Income Research + Management, a $75bn fixed income manager in Boston.
Additionally, Ralph co-founded a networking circle for Boston-based black professionals.
His goal is to increase diversity in the investment management industry, and make the next generation's climb up the ladder a little easier.
Emma Saunders30, senior research analyst, Rathbones
Some 11 years ago Emma was at the University of East Anglia as one of the few women studying for a degree in pure mathematics.
At that juncture, she did not know that wealth management as an industry even existed, and was thinking of finance in terms of stockbroking or trading.
Taking her first step into the industry, she undertook an internship at Westhall during her second year at the UEA, and returned to the firm for three years as an Asia hedge fund analyst.
The role opened her eyes to the variety of roles that comprise financial services.
Today she has spent nearly a decade in the industry and is using her experience to help others who have just started in investment management by acting as a mentor both at Rathbones and within the wider industry.
Matthew Singleton34, chief investment officer, King Street Wealth Management
Matthew started his career in the industry at James Brearley & Sons in 2005 as an administrator at the age of 19.
During his five years at James Brearley he progressed through the back office working in different departments before being promoted onto the dealing desk where he worked throughout the financial crash of 2008.
However, wanting a front office and client-facing role, in 2010 Matthew left James Brearley to join WH Ireland as an investment manager where he spent a further five successful years, before leaving in 2015 to set up his own wealth management business with business partner Mark Parello.
King Street Wealth Management operates from Manchester and has been set up under the umbrella of Raymond James.
After four years the firm is FCA regulated and has grown to over £100m of assets under discretion.
Terence Teh34, loans analyst Muzinich & Co
Terence had an unconventional path into finance having read law at Durham University.
He graduated at the start of the financial crisis when training contracts were in short supply and decided to undertake a position in the securities and structured finance department at a law firm.
He was subsequently seconded to an in-house legal department of an asset manager where he worked closely with the fixed income investment team providing advice on bond and loan trading, restructuring and covenant matters. This piqued Terence's interest in investments.
Terence believes his legal background provides him with an edge in his role, something he may not have had if he pursued a career in finance from the beginning.
His law training is an excellent complement to his credit analysis work, especially in the fixed income sphere where an understanding of covenants is key.
Having had the privilege of good mentorships and support, he is keen to pay this goodwill forward by emulating this approach to younger team members.
Laura Vaughan34, head of direct lending, Hermes IM
Laura's work in establishing both the private debt platform at Hermes Investment Management as well as the framework for the Hermes Women's Network has helped her excel professionally but also promote diversity on a wider scale.
Laura joined Hermes in November 2015 as an associate director, when the private debt platform was being established by the head of private debt, Patrick Marshall.
Since then, her role has expanded from an associate director position to head of the direct lending team. Alongside this role, Laura has also sought to achieve equality for women in investment and has been key in establishing a framework for the Hermes Women's Network.
At Hermes she has taken part in a number of initiatives, such as Bigland Green school rejuvenation project, ACE Kitchen Garden Project and Reading Partners.
She has also dedicated her time to being a mentor to a female colleague at Hermes, who she successfully advised and guided to manager-level promotion.
Roshan Paul Vohra27, quantitative equity analyst, Kames Capital
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Roshan drew inspiration for his career in investment management from his uncle, who demonstrated the successes achievable by a British Asian in asset management.
After university he secured a place on the highly competitive 'Generation UK programme'; an initiative sponsored by the UK and Chinese governments to recognise and promote careers of young, ambitious individuals in finance.
During the programme, he completed an internship at Gaotime International Financial in Shanghai, specialising in commodity analysis.
In 2015, Roshan joined the client management team at Kames Capital and progressed into a front office position as a quantitative equity analyst.
As a British Asian, diversity is of huge value to Roshan. He attributes his positive career experience in asset management to the mentoring and personal advice afforded to him in the earlier stages of his career.
He now actively encourages and supports those in similar junior positions that he was in when he first joined the industry.
In his own words: "Diversity should not just be a box ticking exercise, there needs to be a shift towards cognitive diversity. Representative diversity is one aspect that is often talked about, I however believe that to maximise the benefits of 'diversity' more focus should go towards diversity of thought and problem solving in the everyday working culture of a business."
Thomas Wells35, founder, Wells Investment Consulting
Thomas had always intended to work in the charity sector for an INGO such as Médecins Sans Frontières or for a governmental body like DFID.
In preparation for this, he spent his summers at university living in Nepal running a children's charity he started himself – no mean feat for any student.
However, in his final year at the university, he applied to JPMorgan on its investment bank internship programme. While he enjoyed finance, he realised it was markets and not investment banking that got him excited. He subsequently applied to Barclays Wealth graduate programme.
Though his route into the industry on paper sounds very standard, in reality it followed a slightly unusual route involving a few years living in Kathmandu.
On a personal level, Thomas believes being gay is a "non-issue" in the asset management industry and has never received any negativity due to his sexuality.
To some this may come as a surprise, he says, as there is an expectation the world of finance is stuffy, old-fashioned.
In reality, diversity is celebrated here. It makes asset management a better industry and makes him a better fund manager, he says.
In his own words: "I knew I was gay from a very young age and it was a secret that I lived with until my late teens. For many years I feared anyone finding out about it. Fast forward 16 years and it seems so less important now.
"There are so many other aspects that make up who I am beyond my sexual preference. However, this ability to step back is a privilege that comes with age and having received emotional support both at home and at work. So looking back now, I only wish I could have told my younger self that everything would be OK in the end."
Investment Week, in association with HSBC Global Asset Management, focuses on diversity to look at the next generation of rising stars in asset management.
Investment Week, in association with HSBC Global Asset Management, focuses on diversity to look at the next generation of rising stars in asset management. The commercial case for diversity in the investment...