Tuesday 20 July 2021 11:17 am CFA Institute Talk

‘What I Know Is...’: black professionals share their experiences

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These are articles written by professionals for investment professionals. They are contributions from external subject matter experts who do not work for CFA Institute, but may be a CFA charterholder as well as a member of a CFA Society. All are experts in their field and strive to deliver useful insights that help investment professionals make better decisions.

One of the main reasons for the under-representation of black professionals in investment management is the lack of knowledge and information about joining the investment profession and the opportunities that it can deliver. For the financial sector which is increasingly focused on sustainability and where corporates are increasingly rewarded for good ESG policies, ensuring that Inclusion and Diversity is embedded into the sector is logical and makes good business sense.

To shine a light on under-representation in the industry, the Black Professionals Working Group of CFA Society of the UK (CFA UK), the local society of CFA Institute, launched a campaign, #WHATIKNOWIS, engaging with its network of black professionals and their allies.

CFA Society UK invited industry participants to share their experiences, and pass on bite-sized pieces of advice to those just starting out or considering a career in financial services. Here we present a few abridged excerpts.

Gillian Elcock, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Denny Ellison Investment Management

“Always do excellent work – go above and beyond what is required. Then make sure that your contribution is recognised by your managers and by others who can influence your career. Seek to build relationships within your organisation so that there will be people willing to push for you at the right times: promotions, key assignments, etc. Build external relationships: as your career progresses, they will be key to finding new jobs and opportunities. Former clients, colleagues and bosses can be key in this respect, so don’t burn bridges. And do try to find a mentor who can provide you with guidance and advice, especially in the early part of our career.”

Darren Johnson, Chief Operating Officer for Listed Equities at Impax Asset Management

“I came from a modest socio-economic background and did not see many people with backgrounds similar to mine in prominent positions in this industry. I used to think that this was a disadvantage, but I came to realise just how much of an advantage difference can be. I did not get to where I am despite of my background, but because of it. My career is a result of knowing that real difficulties can be overcome, it’s only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” 

Lindsey Stewart, CFA, Senior Manager on KPMG’s investor engagement programme

“We’ve all come up through the industry and picked up a few ‘bumps and bruises’, professionally speaking. Some self-inflicted, others not so much. All of us agree that it would have been great to have mentors from a similar background to help us avoid those scrapes.”

Marisa Hall, Co-Head of the Thinking Ahead Institute at Willis Towers Watson

“Fight the narrative in your head that you don’t belong. The investment industry is full of opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the lives of other people and our planet – it is your story, your talent and your drive that can make a difference. Don’t try to make heroes or villains out of anyone – you can learn from both good and bad examples and often spending time to understand different motivations can help bring clarity.”

Aneka Beneby, CFA, Portfolio Manager within the discretionary team at Julius Baer International

“I encourage young professionals to seek out mentorship and to value that opportunity. Build a trusting relationship with a potential mentor and allow it to flourish naturally. Also, consider becoming a mentor yourself – no matter how young you are. You have something valuable to impart and it is a privilege to be able to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Fola Anjorin, CFA, Lead Business Analyst, Capital World Consultants

“My advice on achieving success is to stay positive, focused, and execution-minded especially in the face of noise and distractions. Be visible, vocal, and value the lessons you can learn from both good and bad experiences.”

Tumisho Motlanthe, CFA, Portfolio Manager at Coronation Fund Managers

“My advice is to understand that whether it is financial services, or some other professional discipline, you’re likely to be under-represented. Knowing this ahead of time should help you focus on what it is that everyone should be at the firm for – the work itself. There isn’t only one way to deliver excellence and the place you work at, or hope to work at, should be mindful of this, and thoughtful in how it integrates different ways of working to achieve the common goal.”

TinaShé Tande, CFA, member of the UK Institutional Sales team for BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investing (EII) business

“The first advice I ever received upon joining the working world was around the importance and power of a strong network. That is still the most valuable piece of advice I have received. Not only can a strong network provide assistance in performing your role effectively, it can also provide guidance and mentorship, which is super-important as you progress up the corporate ladder. It can keep you in the loop with career progression opportunities, and it can provide additional individuals to speak positively about what you are doing.”

Caroline Vincent, ASIP, Multi-Asset Fund Manager, Wesleyan Mutual Society

“I’d advise anyone first and foremost to be yourself. Work hard and be keen to learn, but always help others along the way. I’m passionate about training others and mentorship. Those kind words, or just your very presence, can have a material impact on others trying to step on the career ladder. Don’t be afraid to speak up and to speak out. Go the extra mile to make yourself visible but also be humble – a tough trick, but well worth mastering.”

Eric Houston, Senior Legal Counsel, RBC Global Asset Management

“Seek mentors and/or sponsors early on that can guide you on your journey. Further, it is never too early in your career to get involved, to volunteer, or to make suggestions for improvement within your own team. Remember that you have a fresh perspective and that you will be able to invigorate a team with your unique ideas and experiences. Share them. And speak up. Now is the time.”

Natalie Gregoire-Skeete, CFA, FRM, Senior Manager within Financial Services Consultancy at EY

“Take each day as it comes, but keep the overall goal in mind, because many small parts make up that big picture. When you look back you may be surprised at how far you have come, especially when you recall the days it all felt too much. For projects that seem daunting, challenging or even insurmountable, push on and know that you can make it through. However, also remember that you bring a unique perspective, so don’t be afraid to point out where you believe a different approach could produce an even better outcome. Diversity of thought is critical and your voice can bring huge value.”

Interested to find out more or get involved? Visit CFA Society UK’s campaign.

Article originally published by CFA UK Professional Investor.

Author: Maha Khan Phillips