IA launches diversity drive to help increase black investment managers

The Investment Association (IA) has today published a landmark report into the experiences of black professionals working in the investment management industry and black students considering their careers. ‘Black Voices: Building black representation in investment management’ sets out ten key steps firms can take to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Currently fewer than 1% of investment managers are black, even though people who identify as black comprise 3% of the UK population, with this rising to more than 13% in London, where the majority of the UK asset management industry’s workforce is based.

The IA’s report, created in conjunction with #talkaboutblack outlines ten practical steps for employers and employees to help increase the number of black employees within the industry, support their career progression, and ensure that their voices are heard, including:

  • Modernising recruitment processes by reaching out to a wider, more diverse entry-level talent pool. 30% of black professionals surveyed believed that finding work in investment management was challenging for young black people. Firms should also consider implementing ‘contextual recruitment’, in which hiring decisions take into account individuals’ circumstances and their innate abilities.
  • Establishing mentoring or talent development programmes, which can give younger staff the confidence and support needed to excel and feel less isolated. Currently, 40% of black professionals surveyed felt that their firms did not have policies in place to support the recruitment and progression of black employees.
  • Building black networks to help black people discover new opportunities within the industry. Over 50% of black professionals surveyed said that they had no black role models at work. Better networks could empower also black employees to share their thoughts on how black diversity and inclusivity can be improved.
  • Widening education on inclusion which recognises an individual’s whole identity and focuses on equality. Unconscious bias training may be a good starting point for managers and staff involved in recruitment and development, so that employees are more aware of any assumptions they may hold that affect their decision-making, but a deeper, more integrated approach to inclusion is a useful next step.
  • Using the term black, rather than BAME, which currently masks the different experiences and varying representations of ethnic groups. Many people also prefer to be described as being black, not BAME.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said: 

“Diversity makes us all stronger. Different voices, opinions and experiences help investment performance, widening horizons and discouraging group think. And we need to be connected with all our clients. Just as our customers come from all ethnic backgrounds, so should our people.

"Building a diverse and inclusive industry requires self-reflection and honesty. This report seeks to do that by giving a voice to black people who have not previously always been heard.

"Our industry now has an opportunity to lead from the front in being a catalyst for social change, not just in our own investment houses but well beyond too. We must seize it.”

On behalf of #talkaboutblack, Justin Onuekwusi, Head of Retail Multi-Asset Funds at Legal & General Investment Management said:

“While ethnic minorities are generally underrepresented across the asset management industry, the issue becomes all the more pressing when we consider how few employees, especially those in senior leadership, are black.

"It has long been taboo to discuss ethnicity, yet change can only come about once we have these conversations. We created #talkaboutblack as a platform to not only discuss the challenges faced by our black colleagues, but to also come up with solutions. This is leading to tangible action and gives us a real opportunity to make the lasting change that we hope can inspire the next generation of aspiring black asset and investment management professionals.

"We are grateful to the Investment Association for partnering with us and encouraging the industry to not only push forward the conversation, but also to implement real action and change.”


Notes to Editors:

  • To read the report including the full list of recommendations visit here: https://www.theia.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/20190611-blackvoices.pdf 
  • The report is based on two roundtables hosted by the IA in December 2018. The first was held in conjunction with #talkaboutblack and consisted of over 20 black professionals currently working in investment management across a variety of roles, to hear their experiences of being black and working in the sector today. The second one held in conjunction with Investment20/20 consisted of over 30 young black people aged from 16 to 24, considering their future careers, to understand what perceptions or barriers exist towards our industry. These discussions helped shaped the recommendations in the IA’s ‘Black Voices’ report. 
  • The IA’s survey data is based on 173 responses from professionals within the investment management industry identifying as ‘Black or Black British’ and ‘Mixed – Black with any other ethnic group’. The survey was conducted between March and April 2019.    
  • Investment20/20 promotes entry-level talent, diversity and inclusion within the investment industry.  For more details about Investment2020 visit: https://investment2020.org.uk/

For further information, please contact:

For media, to receive the full consultation document, please contact Helen Ayres

Helen Ayres, Communications Manager: [email protected]

T +44 (0)20 7269 4620; M +44 (0)7508 724 066

IA press office: [email protected]

About the Investment Association (IA):

  • The IA champions UK asset management, supporting British savers, investors and businesses. Our 250 members manage £7.7 trillion of assets and the asset management industry supports 100,000 jobs across the UK.
  • Our mission is to make investment better. Better for clients, so they achieve their financial goals. Better for companies, so they get the capital they need to grow. And better for the economy, so everyone prospers.
  • Our purpose is to ensure investment managers are in the best possible position to:
    • Build people’s resilience to financial adversity
    • Help people achieve their financial aspirations
    • Enable people to maintain a decent standard of living as they grow older
    • Contribute to economic growth through the efficient allocation of capital.
  • The money our members manage is in a wide variety of investment vehicles including authorised investment funds, pension funds and stocks and shares ISAs.
  • The UK is the second largest investment management centre in the world, after the US and manages 35% of all assets managed in Europe.