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It's a man's world managing money for world's richest families

Sep 25 2018 15:26
Simone Foxman

Men dominate the largest financial institutions globally even as their executives say they’re trying to make Wall Street more welcoming for women.

The situation is even worse at family offices, outfits which manage money for the world’s richest people. Women account for 9.1% of chief executive officers and just 8.6% of chief investment officers, according to a report on Tuesday by UBS Group AG and researcher Campden Wealth. By comparison, 19% of c-suite executives in the asset-management and wholesale-banking industry are women, according to McKinsey & Co.

“A lot of the professionals that you can hire as your CEOs and CIOs of a family office come from the financial-services industry, where women are underrepresented,” said Sara Ferrari, head of global family office at Zurich-based UBS. What’s more, some families have a traditional view “of women’s involvement in certain investment activities as opposed to more philanthropic activities,” she said.

The situation could improve as a generational shift takes place and younger family members get to decide on who looks after the finances.

“Women across regions, but in particular in Asia, are having an increasing role in generating their own wealth and managing wealth in subsequent generations,” Ferrari said.

Only 14% of family offices in the study say they have diversity targets, a level that’s below efforts by Wall Street. More than 4 in 10 offices that participated in impact investing said they were supporting companies that favor "women’s empowerment".

Within family offices, the CEO and CIO roles are typically the most lucrative, with base salaries of $333 000 and $312 000 respectively. The positions also receive the highest bonuses, according to the report. Women account for 39% of chief operations officers and 38% of chief financial officers, positions that pay about a third less.

UBS and Campden surveyed 311 single- and multi-family offices with an average of $808m. Nearly 1 in 5 families had their roots in manufacturing.

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