How Are Gender Lens Funds Performing?

The outperformance of firms with increased women-in-leadership (WIL) metrics has led to the event of so-called gender lens investing. Total publicly available equity and fixed-income offerings within this emerging sector have grown to over $2.4 billion in assets under management (AUM).

So what are the traits of the publicly traded fairness funds inside this area, and the way have they carried out?

The Growth of Gender Lens Investing

Analysis demonstrates that stronger WIL metrics correlate with superior firm efficiency. Fortune 500 corporations with feminine board members did higher than these with out them when it got here to return on fairness (ROE), return on gross sales, and return on invested capital, according to a 2007 study by Catalyst. Outperformance was even increased amongst firms with at the very least three ladies board members. As well as, companies with women directors performed better on a range of criteria, including share price performance, a 2012 Credit score Suisse report discovered.

Impressed by information like this, Pax World Investments — now Pax World Funds Suggested by Impax — proposed investing in women as an asset class. An organization’s gender stability standing — its WIL metrics — grew to become investable.

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The advantages of such an method have been confirmed within the years since: A 2016 Credit score Suisse report demonstrated that “the higher the percentage of women in top management, the greater the excess returns for shareholders.” A 2018 examine by Financial institution of America confirmed that firms in its protection universe with extra ladies on their boards from 2005 to 2016 had increased one-year-forward ROE ranges and median one-year ROE was higher for S&P 500 companies with at least 25% female executives from 2010 to 2016.

The Gender Lens Fairness Sector

So what does the gender lens fairness fund market appear like? The first publicly traded funds obtainable to particular person traders embody mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), SICAVs, one exchange-traded word (ETN), and one unit belief. A few of these present a number of share courses and a number of alternate listings. Within the chart under, they’re divided into international and regional fairness, then ranked by AUM, which totals $1.3 billion.

Major Publicly Traded Gender Lens Fairness Funds

Primary Publicly Traded Gender Lens Equity Funds

*Sources: Fund truth sheets, Bloomberg, Monetary Instances
**Closing indicative word worth return
***As of 28 February 2019

Gender Lens Fairness Funds: Additional Standards

Gender Lens Equity Funds: Further Criteria

Because the second desk demonstrates, all of those funds are multi- or larger-cap, have comparatively low funding minimums, and cost common charges. Most have launched since 2015. All make use of funding standards centered on a WIL philosophy which are usually mixed with ESG screens. Many use inner WIL monitoring indexes. Solactive Equileap is the primary supplier of exterior WIL indexes and is built from a universe of developed market stocks with market caps of over $2 billion.

Lower than 10% of all portfolio managers are ladies, in accordance with the most recent Morningstar information on mutual funds and ETFs, and that figure has not budged in many years. Administration groups within the gender lens sector are nicely forward of the imply on this entrance, with over 60% feminine portfolio managers.

Gender Lens Shares and WIL Metrics: First Quarter Efficiency

Within the international phase, all funds turned in constructive absolute returns for the primary quarter, consistent with broader international shares. In relative phrases, the Pax Ellevate International Ladies’s Management Fund, which presents institutional and particular person share courses, edged previous the MSCI World Index. The fund manager recently noted that overweighting the highest WIL-rated quartile of companies has been the strongest contribution to outperformance. The AXA fund additionally outperformed the MSCI World Index, and the RobecoSAM fund carried out broadly in line.

The regional funds additionally ended the quarter increased. Right here, relative efficiency was blended. The 2 Japan funds turned in single-digit positive aspects, with the Daiwa ETF outperforming its benchmark. However, the USA and Canada funds posted stable positive aspects however trailed their benchmarks and main indexes. The Authorized & Normal fund, which is closing in on the one-year mark, trailed the FTSE 100 Index.

What’s Subsequent for Gender Lens Investing?

The worldwide and regional segments each have comparatively brief histories. So how will this rising sector maintain up over the long run? Can funds differentiate themselves throughout the sector by way of their philosophy and funding method? The impression of regional variations in WIL metrics definitely bears watching, as does sector efficiency beneath totally different market environments.

Regardless of the efficiency advantages of upper WIL ranges (or metrics), the gender lens area faces a scarcity of substantive progress on the subject of ladies in company management. While women make up nearly half the employees of S&P 500 companies, they currently hold only 5% of the CEO positions, with solely two positions held by ladies of coloration. Board seats hover stubbornly at simply over 20%. In the UK, the number of female CEOs in the FTSE 350 declined in 2018, while the number of board chairs rose only slightly. Globally, 15% of enormous firms throughout 44 nations/territories nonetheless don’t have any feminine board members. Moreover, women hold only 5.6% of board leadership roles.

Many spotlights have proven on these sticky metrics over the previous a number of years. But the numbers stay caught. Furthermore, gender lens funds will discover it troublesome to each outperform and increase their market-cap vary in a restricted funding universe. Additional complicating issues, since 1972, female Fortune 500 CEOs have been succeeded by another woman only three times, so gender lens funds are more likely to shift out and in of the identical investments as management range rises and falls on the agency stage.

Nonetheless, the push to include gender range into funding standards is gaining traction on Wall Avenue. In 2017, Morgan Stanley encouraged analysts to include gender scores in investment analyses. In 2018, State Street Global Advisors, which offers the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF, announced that it will begin voting against all-male boards in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia in 2020.

With this heightened focus amongst asset managers that share within the wrestle to shut gender pay and management gaps, extra gender lens funds are more likely to enter the sector.

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All posts are the opinion of the creator. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially replicate the views of CFA Institute or the creator’s employer.

Picture credit score: ©Getty Photographs/pishit

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Marypat Smucker, CFA

Marypat Thenell Smucker, CFA, is a author and analysis analyst with a deal with gender lens and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. Her work will be discovered at

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