Breaking down barriers
Category: India, Asia, Australia, China, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand
The gender profile of professionals in the asset management and pensions industry in Asia remains significantly in favour of men. As we note in a couple of our features on this subject in the markets in India and Australia, the fact is women are not well represented in the upper echelons of senior management.
In the case of Australia, nearly a fifth of trustees of not-for-profit funds are women and this is in stark contrast to the fact that 46% of super fund members are women. Women there make up 25% of public-sector fund chief executives, 24% of corporate fund CEOs and 21% of industry fund CEOs.
This representation should make Australia a far more egalitarian work place for women in asset management compared to other countries in Asia. In India, one high profile woman chief executive is Ashu Suyash, Fidelity’s country head there. This is the exception to the rule. Anecdotally, markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore have higher representation of women in the industry, certainly far more than in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan although in some of the smaller markets in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia, there are leading women personalities in senior management.
To be sure, asset management and pensions are relatively young industries and certainly compared to the more established banking sector, career options are deemed to be more limited. Until recently, too, asset management was viewed as the poorer cousin to banking – and less glamorous to boot. This was reflected in compensation packages although the wage difference between the industries has certainly narrowed in recent years.
Even so, perceptions are changing. The recent turmoil in the world of banking has shaken up the established order and indeed, arguably, has lessened the attractions that the industry previously held.
And as our interviews with leading CEOs indicate, building role models is a critical element in attracting more women into the asset management workforce. This is where mentoring will play an important part in that process. On the evidence of the recent growth of the asset management and pensions industry across the region, prospects are indeed bright for greater representation of women in the sector. The gender bias that now exists should be less obvious in the years ahead.
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