The symbolic bell-ringing ceremony to mark the opening of trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange’s took on extra significance this week by signalling a major shift in Canada’s asset management industry.
Ivey Dean Sharon Hodgson performed the bell-ringing duties to celebrate the creation of the School’s Women in Asset Management (WAM) program, which launched in March and is designed to address the industry’s gender gap.
Believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, the free 14-week program offers four weeks of in-class training and a 10-week internship at an asset management firm to women in Western University’s undergraduate programs.
Surrounded by some of the 33 participants who recently completed classes and are now interning with the program’s corporate sponsors, Hodgson shared sobering statistics showing the need for such programs.
Women make up just 14 per cent of global fund managers and six per cent of chief investment officers at the largest U.S. institutional money managers.
Hodgson said how the program’s goal is to transform the industry by training women for the field and expanding the pool of role models.
“Looking towards the future, our hope is that we have meaningfully moved the dial in terms of women participation in asset management and investment decision-making,” said Hodgson. “I hope our students will be at a reunion together 20 years from now and look back on this program as changing the trajectory of their career and indeed the industry.”
Creating role models
Hodgson thanked the eight corporate partners that are providing financial support so that Ivey can offer the custom-designed program for free to students. Those businesses include RBC Global Asset Management, Scotia Global Asset Management, CIBC Asset Management, Mackenzie Financial Corporation, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, BMO Global Asset Management, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Polar Asset Management Partners, as well as other sponsors that have provided internships or donated time and expertise. By working together, Hodgson said, there is potential to create real change.
“A lot must change. We need more female role models, we will need culture change, and we need a funnel of qualified, interested young women to be ready for these opportunities,” she said. “The WAM program, with the commitment of our sponsors, and the engagement of these young women, is part of making that change.”