A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the continuing dearth of female money managers seems like a market failure. Leaving aside the whole issue of equity and discrimination it seems that investors are missing out on an opportunity to invest with managers who come at investing from a different angle. I wrote:
Whatever is driving the gender disparity in portfolio management it is in incumbent for investors to note how they reap advantage from what is a potential market failure. Whether it be identifying more diverse teams or managers with inherently more motivation (and grit) it behooves investors to look at ways at building portfolios with this in mind.
In the meantime I came across a handful of articles talking about this very issue. First off this Fortune article by Liz Dolan on why she resigned from the board of publicly traded Quiksilver ($ZQK) is a case study in unconscious bias. There is little doubt that the issue of bias plays a role in why women not only don’t get hired as managers but don’t enter into the field of investment management in the first place.
Brett Steenbarger writing at Forbes backs up the idea of unconscious bias toward female traders with a real world example. He writes:
When managers in finance equate success with risk-seeking and uber-confidence, they neglect these social and emotional predictors of performance. This inevitably leads to suboptimal management practices.
Steenbarger goes on to note that recent research in positive psychology points towards career performance being associated more so with “soft skills” associated with females. That is in part why teams, trading or not, often have a balance that helps create a better, more sustainable environment.
Moving on there are a number of reasons why women may be better investors than men. However you don’t need to make the case for female managers based solely on returns. Meredith Jones author of Women of The Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (and How You Can Too) recently wrote in a Marketwatch post:
After all, no matter how many funds, asset classes and strategies you have in a portfolio, if all of your money managers tend to think and act alike, are you truly diversified? And if women can provide additional diversification through behavior, cognition, investments and trading inclinations, it seems reasonable that they would be a good source of both alpha and differentiated returns.
If the rise of behavioral finance has taught us anything is that we are all rife with all manner of behavioral biases. Luckily for us men and women have these behavioral biases is varying amounts. So whether you view this all through the lens of biology, cognition or behavior it makes sense to try and assemble, real or virtual, as diversified an investment team as possible.