Fondsfrauen, a network aimed at promoting gender equality in the German fund industry, has launched its first summit, with about 200 delegates attending.
The event, taking place a day before the opening of the annual Fonds Professionell Kongress in Mannheim, was opened by Anne Connelly, managing partner at Fondsfrauen, who highlighted the need for a women centered network in order to address gender inequalities in the German fund industry.
Karen Ferdinand, partner Corporate Finance at KPMG presented the results of a survey on gender equality conducted by the auditor. She opened by asking the audience who worked in a company with more than 30% female board members, none of the delegates were able to confirm.
Germany has introduced mandatory quota for female board members, with listed companies having to appoint at least 30% female candidates for new board member positions as of January 2016. The new regulation is set to affect 3500 businesses in Germany, including banks and insurance companies.
Ferdinand highlighted that the number of female fund managers among Germany domiciled funds has actually decreased, from more than 8% in 2014 to only 6.6% in 2015.
This figure introduced a panel on female fund managers, chaired by Anke Dembowski, managing partner at Fondsfrauen, joined by Ilga Haubelt, head of Equities Global at Deka Investment, Anja Hochberg, CIO, Credit Suisse, Anja Mikus, CIO, Arabesque Asset Management and Bernd Pompetzki, head of HR management at Union Asset Management. The panel stressed the need for women to proactively apply for promotions, rather than expecting to be asked.
The debate was followed by a panel on careerwomen chaired Michaela Krahwinkel, head of Performance Analysis at Union Investment. She was joined by Katja Lammert, managing director at BayernInvest, Mathias Müller, managing director and head of Retail Europe at Allianz Global Investors, Elmar Schobel, partner Financial Services, KPMG and Evi Vogl, spokesperson for the board and CEO Germany at Pioneer Investments. The debate ranged from the need for flexible childcare to additional incentives to the growth of part time work, both among men and women.
The final debate, chaired by Manuela Fröhlich, partner at Fondsfrauen and head of Client Relationship Management at Alceda, centered on the role of advisors in promoting gender specific investment advice. Participants included Susanne Ehrlich, sales director at M&G Investments, Rudolf Geyer, spokesperson of the board at ebase, Sebastian Grabmaier, CEO at Jung, DMS & Cie and Renate Kewenig, owner at advisory firm frauINVEST.
The panel compared investment patterns according to gender, with both Grabmaier and Geyer highlighting that contrary to popular assuptions, women are generally not more risk averse than men, and tend to have an almost equal of equity products in their portfolios. Nevertheless, Kewenig highlighted that while women tend to invest in similar products, their requirements for investment advice tend to differ, with women requesting longer meetings with advisors and remaining invested for a longer period of time.
The event was rounded up by German TV presentor Birgit Schrowange, who presented highlights from her recent book, which advocates among others the need for women to remain financially independent.