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5th Fondsfrauen Summit 2020: Informative, colorful, network-driven

It is now the 5th summit event that the Fondsfrauen have organized in Mannheim! The first summit took place in 2015, on a small budget and had around 100 participants. Some men also came, curios what would happen at a women’s fund event. This time it was the record number of 270 registrations.

In her welcoming speech, Anne Connelly looked back on the impressive activities of the Fondsfrauen: various scientific studies, interesting networking events, public relations work on women in the fund industry, and bringing many companies the focus of women in the industry closer. After all, over 30 companies from the industry are now accompanying the Fondsfrauen as supporters or business members, showing that they are serious about promoting women. Last but not least, they are also looking for new employees because the issue of a lack of skilled labour does not stop at the fund industry.

New program for young professionals
One of the first studies that the Fondsfrauen had carried out revealed that the proportion of female fund managers in German-speaking countries is less than 10%. What could be done to change this? Filling the pipeline with more young women certainly is a good start, but another study that the Fondsfrauen carried out together with the University of Mannheim showed that young women’s interest in the financial sector is extremely low – in part due to false prejudices that are more likely to come from the investment banking side.

To change something here, a workshop for young professionals was offered for the first time at this year’s summit. Here, female students could find out about the range of jobs in the fund industry and their requirements. Dr. Hannah Lea Hühn, Senior Sales Manager at Amundi, moderated a discussion that was followed by a speed dating session with representatives of prominent fund management companies. That was very revealing for both sides.

Workshop for financial advisors
At the same time, the workshop for financial advisors took place, where three women and one man discussed the financial advice of the future under the moderation of Jennifer Brockerhoff from Brockerhoff Finanzberatung. What does a future-proof business model look like in the age of robo-advice and MiFid regulation? How can comprehensive financial advice be guaranteed if the independent financial advice will be placed under BaFin supervision and also other things have changed, so that being an IFA no longer seems to be a super-attractive job? Conclusion: It helps to look at Amazon & Co. and start with customer needs, not with the product. The discussion focused on how to do this in concrete terms.

Digital transformation can benefit women in the world of work
From Amazon to digitization, it is only a stone’s throw away. In her lecture, Dr. Kira Marrs, scientist at the Institute for Social Science Research (ISF) in Munich, explained the impact digital transformation has on women in business, and especially in the fund industry. Her motto: You shouldn’t first worry about digitalization in the company, and then about equality. Rather, one should use the upheavals and changes that the digital transformation in companies would bring to also enhance the integration of women. Then later no expensive repair projects would be necessary. After all, digitization not only means the full computerization of processes, but can also be understood as a tool for better collaboration and communication. And this is where the strengths of women are seen.

Customer expectations in asset management are specified by Amazon & Co.
A 4-person panel moderated by Anke Dembowski discussed the influence digitalization has on the fund industry in particular. It was about the influence of digitization…

  • directly to portfolio management (robo-advice, robo-management)
  • the customer experience (quick contact and access to information, seamless processes)
  • the products (technology funds, big data funds, blockchain, token investment) and
  • the industry as a whole

Conclusion: The fund industry is still working on digitization. Service providers such as Amazon, Uber, Tinder, etc. shape consumer expectations. These expectations are automatically transferred to the fund industry, which has to face this challenge.

Silke Foth shows male rituals and how we can deal with them
The lecture by management consultant and coach Silke Foth caused some laughter, as it was about (male) rituals that still prevail in the business area. Men spend about 30% of their paid work time on networking, observes Foth, and women should take this as an model. Rituals are important because they connect people and create common ground. But they should take place at eye level and not end in dominance and submissiveness. Foth explained how women could take more space and get their share of speech, and how we can recognize and parry a clearly dominance-driven handshake. The audience’s laughter showed that many of them also experience such rituals in their companies and can now better see through them.

Sustainability creates opportunities for women in the fund industry
The topic of ESG is currently an integral part of the financial sector. Manuela Fröhlich discussed with a panel of four where the women stay and how women can position themselves here. The participants indicated that the ESG topic is currently experiencing hype and that this would entail the risk of greenwashing and taking cluster risks. Conclusion of the discussion: The topic of ESG offers a good chance for women, because sustainability is important to them and they have a high credibility here. On the other hand, past data in asset management (e.g. correlations) may now have to be interpreted differently than in the past, since new, non-financial factors are also playing an increasing role.

Jasmin Taylor: It is hardly possible without good nerves, diligence and luck
In the subsequent business talk, Anne Connelly talked to Jasmin Taylor. She was a shooting star in the tourism industry and a popular figure in society. Then the company she founded, JT Touristik, had to file for bankruptcy. In an interview, Taylor explained how she managed to sell her company to supermarket chain Lidl and make a successful comeback with exclusive holiday resorts. Conclusion: Good nerves, hard work and last but not least luck are necessary for business success.

During the subsequent drinks and networking, many topics for good conversations were found, and that in a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere. Conclusion: We are looking forward to the 6th Fondsfrauen summit next year!

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