This article first appeared in Investment Week, 21st February, 2018
As part of the debate about how to increase diversity in the asset and investment management industry, the biggest fact we need to accept is no one knows who we are, so how can they find their way to us?
We know the City is comprised of many distinct industries, but for the general public, the lines are blurred. And it gets even more confusing when we do not have a single, all-encompassing industry name to go by.
Asset management, investment management, fund management, and wealth management are terms that are all valid but can also be interchangeable. So, we should pick one and stick to it.
Personally, I have gone for asset and investment management - I feel this covers both sides of the fund buying and selling fence. I am not keen on calling us the savings industry because that implies a cash deposit, while financial services is just a PR-friendly term for banking.
Once we have a name, we need to get on the next generation's radar. Other City professions have a headstart on us in this area. They have strong role models and are portrayed regularly in popular culture, so even if the realities of the job are not as exciting, those professions are seen as a possible career choice for young people, or the stall to look out for at the careers fair.
We need to co-ordinate our efforts and through the government-backed Asset Management Centres of Excellence we have a chance to educate and spread the word through schools and universities and be a serious option alongside the other STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industries that are all jostling for the same diverse talent.
Closer dialogue is required between the worlds of business and education, and must reach beyond the traditional Russell Group of universities. Jargon needs to be left in the Square Mile. We need to simplify, enthuse, find common ground and understanding. When I have been into schools, I compare my career as an investment analyst to being a detective.
And the go-to story I use is one they can relate to - Apple. I tell the story of how a broken iPod led us to purchase Wolfson Microelectronics. This then gives them some idea of what we do as an industry and also that it is not all about the quant (sorry, I mean maths). We need to keep it relatable and simple.
I doubt any time soon Netflix will commission a thrilling and positive drama about the investment industry, which would do for us what Spooks did for applications to GCHQ.
I am holding out hope for our own Little Miss book called Little Miss Investor, who manages Mr Happy's pension and he retires happy. However, Mr Greedy invested for Mr Grumpy and he did not fare so well!
PLEASE SIGN IN TO READ THIS ARTICLE