Women Still Don’t Have a Place at the Hedge Fund Table

August 29, 2018 James Heinsman In the News

Great strides have been made by women in the financial services industry, but one place that is still mostly closed to them is the hedge fund sector, where they work pretty much everywhere, accept where the money is.

Out of the 50 largest US hedge funds only two have women in the role of top investment executive. The same group of 50 about half of them can boast women at the head, or co-heading, the investor relations department. Investment teams are exceedingly male, which many industry executives say is just an extreme example of the larger financial world where women for the most part occupy lower-paying jobs.

The winnowing starts early: men are escorted into companies as traders or analysts after doing entry-level work in investment banking or private equity. They learn how to buy stocks, bonds and other assets for the client funds they work for. This is called the “front office,” where just about every billionaire hedge-fund manager works.

Women are treated differently from the get-go. They are sent to “middle-office” or “back-office” jobs dealing with operational and marketing issues. They frequently go into investor-relations, or what are known as “capital-introduction” jobs. These jobs are lower paying, and do not involve, for the most part, making important investment decisions.
These jobs can be crucial to keep a fund rolling along, but they can also be nothing more than promotional staff who are hired to act as bait to reel investors into investing by catering to male egos.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” says Dominique Mielle, recently retired as the only female investing partner at hedge-fund giant Canyon Capital. “The only women we know that exist at hedge funds are in IR or sales, and therefore that’s where they put them.”

“The whole mind-set is: There’s this gorgeous babe at home, and I’m going to have this gorgeous babe in the office, because what does that say about me? I’m surrounded by gorgeous babes,” says Marjorie Kaufman, a 30-year industry veteran.

One women with an Ivy League degree in economics explained how she was hired for an investment job, but soon was switched into marketing. When it was clear she was not interested in this part of the business, she was offered a buyout to leave. Her hedge fund career ended then, after less than one year.

Some women prefer their jobs in marketing, saying it allows them more freedom and time to spent with their families. One woman said:

“I don’t work crazy hours, I’m not here at 3 a.m. crunching a spreadsheet, I can go to my kids’ parties and open up my laptop and do my job.”

Dominique Mielle, Hedge Funds, Marjorie Kaufman, women,

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