Diversity in Fund Finance Recruitment – The Present and Future

brickfieldBy brickfield11/10/20206 Minutes

It has taken time, but diversity, and in particular the inclusion of more women, is finally becoming a universally accepted priority in the fund finance community.

As an individual, I have been seeing for many years that diversity is an issue that needs addressed in business as a whole, and one of the reason why Brickfield Recruitment is focused on the fund finance sector is that there is serious and sincere desire to improve diversity. It is genuinely exciting to be with clients and partners who share our values and be part of an industry that shares them too.

For some time we have been researching where the fund finance industry is with diversity from the talent acquisition perspective. While the picture is far from utopian, progress is definite, and enthusiasm is high.

More room at the top.

There are now more women than ever in leadership positions within fund finance teams. This means that they have the potential to positively change attitudes like never before, and improve outcomes for women seeking to either get a start in fund finance or to develop their careers.

These are the women who struggled to the top when the industry was even more male-dominated than it is today. They have faced tough challenges from their male counterparts along the way, and their stories need to be told and their experience and knowledge needs to be passed on to women coming through the ranks, to demonstrate to them that if they are focused and ambitious, they can make it as well.

Whether it is by giving advice about how to get ahead of the game and prepare thoroughly and early for bonus season, or providing guidance on ways to be better positioned competitively against male counterparts, women already in senior positions can have a profoundly positive effect on those climbing the ladder after them.

However, diversity advocates within the fund finance community also agree that while the numbers of women involved in the sector are growing all the time, levels of female inclusion are still at very low levels – many women in the industry are still often finding themselves the only female in the room (or these days, on the Zoom call). While senior female figures who have already broken the glass ceiling have a massive role to play, increased focus on bringing female graduate talent into the industry at entry level is also key to maintaining momentum.

Early intervention

We believe at Brickfield Recruitment that it is particularly important for banks and law firms prioritise diversity at the graduate level, so that this ethos begins with new talent even before it walks in the door. This will ensure than in the long-term a distinct culture of diversity and inclusion becomes the norm rather than an imposed, artificial tick-box exercise.

The fact that the current school and college-age generation has a very high awareness of diversity – and an equally low tolerance of potential employers who do not give it due priority – means that such a culture will not only be desirable but entirely necessary for any bank or law firm in the fund finance industry to attract and retain the very best young talent – and not only females. A lot of the men care too.

Brickfield Recruitment always considers diversity in every search, and if we are given a specific requirement or priority we will always go above and beyond what is being specifically requested of us. The limitation is still in the relatively low numbers of female candidates out there, but we believe that current efforts and initiatives are having a discernible effect and that within the next four to five years we will see a far greater pool of female talent available to the fund finance industry than we see today.

I am greatly encouraged by efforts underway at the Fund Finance Association to address diversity and make it a core industry value. The Association is partnering with schools and colleges (particularly those with a high proportion of minority students) to give the industry exposure to potential future recruits, raising awareness of the need for good diversity policy among banks and law firms, and facilitating the networking of women within the industry.

Network, network, network

Lastly, I would stress the power of networking for women in fund finance. Whether it is though the FFA’s initiatives, your own organisation, client contacts or conferences, there is no substitute for getting out there and building up a healthy book of contacts and letting the industry know who you are.

The fund finance market is maturing and growing in robustness, and there can be no better time than now for the recruitment side of the business to catch up with the times and embrace the opportunity that including more women in the industry will inevitably bring.