We are still a long way from a good mix in the German-speaking fund industry. The proportion of women is still very low, particularly in management positions, and companies are reluctant to show their cards when it comes to equal pay.
The industry network "Fondsfrauen" wants to raise awareness of the issues of equality and diversity and therefore presents - this year for the fifth time - the Fondsfrauen Award.
16 financial experts or companies are honored
At an exclusive luncheon event on October 13, Fondsfrauen shone the spotlight on a total of 16 female and male financial experts (there was a double nomination). Their merit: They have actively contributed to more diversity in the finance industry as role models, by motivating women in the industry or through their outstanding achievements.
In the run-up to the event, Fondsfrauen, together with media partner FONDS professionell, had asked men and women in the industry to nominate individuals and companies for the following five categories - in each case with precise reasons.
- Company of the Year
- Woman of the Year
- Fundmanager of the Year (w)
- Role Model of the Year (m/w/d)
- Rising Talent of the Year (w)
The "Rising Talent" category was added this year to recognize women who have chosen a career in asset management and have already achieved success within their first five years in the profession. After all, female rising talents are the managers of tomorrow, and companies urgently need such talents.
After the welcome by Fondsfrauen funder Anne Connelly, Maren Schmitz, partner at KPMG and sponsor of the event, gave a blazing speech on why diversity is good for the financial industry. Maren Schmitz heads the Financial Services Management Consulting division in Frankfurt and handles consulting for banking, asset management, and real estate in Germany. Hans Heuser, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of media partner FONDSprofessionell, also emphasized in his speech how important it is to do something about the "leaky pipeline," the declining proportion of women at the various career levels in the industry.
With over 230 nominations, a particularly large number of people and companies were nominated this time, from all four countries in which the Fund Women are active: Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. It was also clear from the nominations that the finance industry works very internationally, as people outside these countries were also nominated because they work across borders with women in German-speaking countries.
The Fondsfrauen Awards honor successful women from the investment fund industry; companies that are committed to gender diversity in asset management; and men and women who are role models for others. These people send a clear signal that women achieve a lot in the financial industry and that it is possible for companies from the industry to promote and live diversity.
Here are this year's nominees and winners in the five categories:
Company of the Year
- BNY Mellon (winner)
- Amundi Asset Management (nominee)
- GLS Investment (nominee)
At BNY Mellon all employees worldwide have specific diversity & inclusion targets in their annual performance appraisal. This culture is also exemplified at Board level, where there are clearly defined targets, for example to increase the proportion of women across the organization's hierarchical levels. By signing the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, BNY is committed to increasing the proportion of women in senior management in Europe from 28% to 33% by the end of 2025. With currently 32.5% (end of 2022) women in senior management, BNY Mellon is already well on track.
Woman of the Year
- Christel Rendu de Lint, Vontobel (winner)
- Kerstin Gräfe, Amundi (nominee)
- Brenda Sklar, LGIM (nominee)
The winner in the Woman of the Year category is Christa Rendu de Lint. She is Head of Investments at Vontobel in Zurich and is to become Co-CEO of the long-established Zurich private bank from the beginning of 2024. She is perceived by her employees as a shaper. As Head of Investments, she manages around 300 investment professionals in Vontobel's investment boutiques in locations such as Zurich, Munich and New York. This makes her responsible for assets under management amounting to 128 billion euros. One of her most impressive achievements has been building the fixed income business at UBP, which has grown from $1 billion to $20 billion during her tenure.
Role Model of the Year (m/w/d)
- Martine Capus, Amundi ( winner)
- Corinna Valentine (nominee)
- Denise Kißner und Dr. Katharina Seiler, DWS ( nominee)
The winner in the Role Model of the Year category is Martine Capus. She is Deputy Head of Operations Oversight at Amundi Luxembourg S.A.. She is described as a "professional with passion" who focuses not only on excellence in her job, but also on so-called "soft factors" such as integration, good teamwork, equity and transparency. She also invests a lot of her private time in building up and developing the Fund Women network in Luxembourg. Thanks to her building work, numerous women in the Luxembourg financial center have been able to further expand their network and are very inspired by the energy she puts into it.
Fund manager of the Year
- Noushin Irani, DWS (winner)
- Katharina Raatz, Berenberg ( nominee)
- Helen Windischbauer, Amundi ( nominee)
Noushin Irani has been working in the global equity team of DWS for a good 10 years and has been the lead portfolio manager of the DWS Biotech fund for about 19 years. Her knowledge in healthcare and biotechnology is considered very deep and her contribution to the global equity team is considered enriching. Her fund has an outstanding track record, with DWS Biotech outperforming its benchmark by nearly 7% (gross) over one year (as of the end of June). In addition, Noushin shifted the DWS Biotech fund toward ESG last year.
Rising Talent of the Year
- Ann-Kathrin Behringer, DWS ( winner)
- Ann-Katrin Ruhnow, Union Investment ( nominee)
- Yara Lavanga, Maerki Baumann ( nominee)
Ann-Kathrin Behringer works as a fund manager in the field of quantitative equity strategies with an ESG focus in a niche where women have been little represented. For the past two years, she has managed two quantitative focus funds, DWS Invest ESG Qi LowVol World and DWS Qi Global Climate Action, as lead portfolio manager. She is also responsible for institutional client relationships. In doing so, she not only operates confidently and adeptly in the complex world of quantitative models, but also works innovatively to further develop the processes. She was also involved in a scientific article published in the Journal of Impact and ESG Investing.
Two more honors
In addition to the award winners, the Fondsfrauen in the Woman of the Year category would like to honor posthumously Emersona Fleck . She worked as Director Fund Sales at Raiffeisen Bank International AG in Vienna and was not only a Fondsfrau and banker with heart and soul, but also mother of 2 sons. She won the fight against cancer the first time and lost it the second time, and died on August 12, 2023 at the age of only 40. A co-worker of hers wrote to us, "She was an inspiration to us all, with her humor and pure zest for life." She was extremely well connected in the market and remains unforgotten!
We would also like to declare our very special respect for a woman in the Role Model of the Year category outside of the awards ceremony: Sarah de Lagarde, Global Head of Communications at Janus Henderson Investors. She not only actively supports various initiatives within Janus Henderson Investors. For example, she is a board member of the JH Foundation, a major giving arm supporting local communities. What we pay special respect to her for is how she is coping with a life-changing accident on London Public Transport in which she lost a leg and an arm last September. "We are all very impressed by her unbreakable fighting spirit and perseverance as a colleague, role model and mother of two," writes the person who nominated her. We absolutely agree with that! She is truly a Role Model of a special kind!
Lots of great women in finance!
The respective winners of the categories were on site in Frankfurt and gladly accepted their award. The nominees were also pleased that they received so much support to be shortlisted.
The award shows that successful women in the financial sector do exist - even if some panels or conferences give the impression that the industry is still very male-dominated.
A big thank you goes to our media partner FONDS professionell for organizing the nominations and for the photos of the ceremony. And we would also like to thank KPMG for sponsoring this event!
Foto Copyright: FONDSprofessionell/Christoph Hemmerich