Monday 17 August 2020 12:01 am

Fund managers back scheme to tackle underrepresentation of Black people in the City

The fund management industry has come together to tackle the chronic underrepresentation of Black talent in the City. 

The #100blackinterns initiative, which launches today, will bring together many of the industry’s leading names to give opportunities to university educated Black people trying to establish a career in the City. 

Eighty leading firms, including Legal & General, Schroders and Goldman Sachs, are joining the initiative as the industry reflects on the chronic underrepresentation of Black people in British financial institutions.

There are believed to be no more than 12 black portfolio managers in the entire UK investment management industry, according to a 2018  study by New Financial. 

The firms will offer a minimum of 100 paid internships, in front line investment roles, next summer to university-educated youths of Black origin.

The programme has firms participating from all parts of the investment management industry including long only and hedge funds, private equity, credit and real estate managers, together with consultants and pension funds.

The initiative is led by Jonathan Sorrell, president of Capstone Investment Advisors, and Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, cofounder of Redington and Mallowstreet. Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder and managing partner of Barrington Hibbert Associates and Wol Kolade, managing partner of Livingbridge, are also helping to coordinate the scheme. 

Sorrell said: “We felt we wanted to do something really tangible to build a bench of compelling Black talent in our industry for the long-term. By providing such a special entry point into portfolio management, we hope to attract great Black students to a career path they may not have otherwise contemplated.”

Financial institutions attempt to improve diversity

Like fund managers, leading banks have in recent weeks set new diversity goals, reflecting a growing acknowledgment that most top roles are held by white men. 

HSBC told staff last month that it will “at least double” the number of black employees in its upper ranks. Boss Noel Quinn admitted in an internal memo that the bank’s failure to publish data on ethnicity had created a “feeling of mistrust among black colleagues.” 

Goldman Sachs recently said that by 2025 it wants seven per cent of its vice presidents to be Black and nine per cent to be Latino.Chief executive David Solomon also said the bank was aiming for 40 per cent of its employees with the vice president title to be female.

Gender diversity in UK banks is starting to improve, albeit gradually, but it has started to overtake European and US rivals at board level. 

Figures from New Street Group released today reveal 37 per cent of board members at UK banks are now women, compared to 35 per cent and 33 per cent in Europe and the US respectively. 

The figures also show investment banks have started to shed their heavily male image, with the percentage of women on the boards having grown from 25 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent in 2020.

American multinational Citi has the highest proportion of women on its board at 44 per cent, followed by Lazards at 36 per cent.

Managing director of New Street Group, Andrew McIntee said: “Some investment banks have had a reputation for being an ‘all-boys club’ at board level but there has been real progress on that front in recent years.  More women have moved into senior roles in investment banking, both as executives and non-execs.”