Some 34% of board members at FTSE 350 companies are now women, government figures show. Yet just 3% of the world’s 50 biggest asset management companies have a female chief executive officer, according to recruitment company Heidrick & Struggles.
That's why investment Week and HSBC Asset Management focused on "How to progress as a leader" in its latest Women in Investment Career Booster Webinar.
Led by Katrina Baugh, Editor-in-Chief of Investment Week, it brought together a panel of inspirational female leaders: Sarah Soar, Chief Executive at Hawksmoor Investment Management; Ozge Usta, Head of Sustainability Delivery at HSBC Asset Management; and Liz Field, Chief Executive at the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA).
Their key recommendations included putting yourself forward and taking advantage of networking, mentoring, and training opportunities.
Believe in yourself
If you want to become a leader, it's vital to believe you have what it takes. So, the panel's first tip for women keen to move up the corporate ladder is simply to go for it. "Put yourself forward for roles," Soar said. "Otherwise, you could easily get overlooked."
They also advocated asking for advice from more senior colleagues and contacts. "I have asked a lot of people for advice," Field said. "And nobody has ever said no. People generally want to help other people."
Listen and learn
The panel agreed that mentoring programmes are extremely useful for anyone hoping to move up into a leadership role in the future.
And that even if you have only recently started working in asset management, putting yourself forward for reverse mentorship programmes is a great way to show initiative, while also learning more about the business.
You should also take advantage of any training you are offered - and ask for it if it's not made available.
"I did a lot of observing," Usta said. "I observed leaders around me and the different styles they had. I tried to pick up on the different attributes I liked in each leader and soak up as much information as possible from leadership training courses."
Put yourself first
Asset managers have become a lot better at supporting women with children - and they are starting to improve their approach to other issues, such as the menopause. "I do think attitudes have changed an enormous amount since my children were born," Soar said. But if you feel you are not receiving the support you need, our panellists urged positive action to change that.
"If you're a line manager of someone who is on maternity leave, don't assume that person's ambitions have changed. And if you feel the company you're working for is not being supportive, maybe it's time to look elsewhere," Usta said.
Spread the word
Soar fell into asset management "by accident" and believes the key to encouraging more women to actively choose a career in the industry is marketing it to young women. "It's a great career for women," she said. "Let's get people coming in because they know that."
Field, meanwhile, pointed out that working towards a more inclusive environment where women can more easily attain senior roles is a job for everyone.
"Don't forget about men," she added. "We have all got a role to play."
This article is part of a series of articles on diversity and inclusion, produced by Investment Week in association with HSBC Global Asset Management. You can find the full series on a dedicated hub here.
This post is sponsored by HSBC Asset Management.