In early 2010 just 3% of global hedge fund assets of $1.5 trillion were estimated to be managed by women, according to Finalternatives, a publication itself founded by a woman, Deidre Brennan. Today we think that estimate greatly understates the true and growing extent of women’s role in hedge funds. For a start, a variety of surveys show assets up to around $2 trillion thanks to positive performance and pension fund inflows.
What’s more, the amount of money women are running looks to be at least $100 billion if allocators are included, based solely on the 30 portfolio managers included in the 2011 survey of 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds in association with Ernst & Young LLP. If we widen the definition of “running” a hedge fund to include the crucial chief operating officer role, our nine COOs between them also have responsibility for over $100 billion of assets (and not including a number of other women COOs running firms with ten figure asset sums). Thus, just our final 50 women have either portfolio management or operational responsibility for over $200 billion or 10% of industry assets.
Nearly all the survey’s 30 portfolio managers run at least $1 billion and almost all have been managing money for at least 10 years. This is noteworthy given that the past decade has seen two savage (down 50%) bear markets for equities and credit assets harder hit than in the Great Depression. Moreover, 2008 threw up a liquidity crisis to expose the Achilles heel of many funds that survived and thrived in previous downturns. The resilience of hedge funds over this period bears testimony to the alpha generating qualities of the asset class – and these alpha generating women have been central to the story.
We doubt whether minority mandates offered by US public pension funds have been more than a marginal helping hand. Moreover, mainstream financial organisations, ranging from non-profit foundations and endowments to the most hard-nosed investment banks and hedge funds do not appear to have in place any so called “glass ceilings” arresting the careers of women. Last year, fund of funds Financial Risk Management, and Dutch pension spinout IMQubator, happily seeded firms wholly or mainly owned by women – but without any regard to that aspect of their ownership, since neither includes the gender of business owners as an investment criterion.
The rise of socially responsible investing has also been attributed to women. In this area, which still has a low profile amongst hedge funds, we have identified one commingled fund of hedge funds run along SRI criteria, where the research head is female.
Yet even when women might not always be able to invest according to their conscience, most of our 50 are active in charity or philanthropy, ranging from setting up their own foundations to devoting part of their fees to charities.
Our final 50 women have either portfolio management or operational responsibility for over $200 billion or 10% of industry assets.
Hamlin Lovell, Contributing Editor, The Hedge Fund Journal
As a leading global provider of services to the hedge fund industry, Ernst & Young LLP is proud to sponsor the 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds survey. We congratulate the women selected as leaders in the industry by The Hedge Fund Journal.
Ernst & Young LLP’s commitment to women’s advancement is integral to the firm’s overall success. We have been acknowledged for our achievements in developing and advancing women in business, and we have been asked by many businesses to share our ideas and strategies for success. We have also received numerous accolades, including being named one of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises (Women’s Business
Enterprise National Council), top 10 Companies for Executive Women (DiversityInc magazine), top 10 companies for working mothers (Working Mother Magazine), and winning the Catalyst Award for our effectiveness in creating a culture where women not only can participate, but lead and excel.
Equally, we are committed to the hedge fund industry. For over 25 years, Ernst & Young LLP has helped many firms develop from start-ups to become some of the largest global players. Our team of hedge fund professionals, the largest of any Big Four firms, is proud that Ernst & Young LLP audits approximately 40% of the top 100 global hedge funds. In addition, having built our business on start-ups, we are generally recognized as the leader in helping funds to launch. This depth of experience gives us a unique view of the new challenges facing fund managers, along with the ability to quickly provide the well-informed and practical advice that firms need today.
As the hedge fund industry evolves and expands, we look forward to continuing to support firms’ evolving needs through our extensive portfolio of services. In addition, we look forward to continuing to collaborate closely with the industry’s women leaders and their colleagues for many years to come in helping them achieve their long term goals.
Similarly, many of the 50 have been honoured by 100 Women in Hedge Funds, either at “Showcasing the Talent” or other evenings or have received
“Glass Hammer” or “Leadership” awards. Such voluntary achievements are not listed individually because in the brief profiles, we can only summarise these women’s professional accomplishments.
The biggest portion of our survey features a range of business principals, senior portfolio managers and COOs in both single manager and funds of funds. Particularly noteworthy are Leda Braga of BlueCrest, who leads a team managing over $10 billion, and Elaine Crocker, who is COO at Moore Capital. Among business principals, Elena Ambrosiadou stands out for her 20 years of success in running IKOS. In addition, the survey features women in senior operational roles within hedge fund firms, along with those making decisive contributions in prime brokerage, fund law and other areas of advice and consultancy. Everyone included is well-established (some of them true pioneers) with a long track record of success, generally with more than one firm. Our key criteria included the level of responsibility, either through managing money or a business (or both). We also sought to recognise women who have led by example and those who have a talent for innovation.
Data and opinions were gathered from interviews with industry participants, both men and women, based in Asia, the US and Europe. In this regard, we spoke with capital introduction teams, lawyers, accountants, administrators, custodians, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private banks, insurance companies, family offices, funds of funds and head hunters. The geographic split of the 50 women is broadly proportional to global hedge fund industry assets, with over half US based, about a third in Europe with the rest coming from Asia. The survey could easily have stretched to quadruple the size from the many worthy candidates put forward. Extensive and difficult deliberations led to the selections that are detailed in the following pages.
The 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds survey is by no means a definitive guide. Many of those included are well-known across the industry but it is very much the case that there are many other successful and deserving candidates that aren’t featured in our final selection. Clearly, the survey and the extensive research it incorporates, proves that there is a very great range of talented women in hedge funds and plenty of opportunities for them to thrive as the industry grows in the coming years.
Ernst & Young LLP is proud to sponsor the 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds survey as it reflects both its commitment to the hedge fund industry and its support for ensuring that women have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.