Kelli Meagher, Portfolio Manager at Sage Capital, has over 20 years of experience as an Analyst and Portfolio Manager in the Australian and US equity markets across small, mid and large companies. When asked, she says the advice she would give other women starting their career in funds management is to work hard, look to learn from those more experienced around you, and collect as many skills and strengths from people you admire. As a CFA Charterholder herself, she also advocates completing the CFA for those seeking a role on an investment team. Most importantly, she says, learn from your mistakes and aim to always remain calm and level-headed – these skills will be key in your professional development.
Kate Samranvedhya, Deputy Chief Investment Officer at Jamieson Coote Bonds is a career fixed income portfolio manager and has worked with two large Central Banks in Asia before joining the team at Jamieson Coote Bonds in Singapore. She specialises in high grade bond portfolio management across all major global regions. She says that early on in her career, being open to opportunities within the industry greatly benefited her. The exposure you gain to various aspects in the funds management industry will help your career in the long run, even if it is not your dream role as you set out. She says is it is important to try to find a mentor who can guide you in this area and has core values, such as loyalty and strategic thinking, that will align with your own.
Alana Carratelli, Distribution Director at Channel Capital has spent more than 17 years working across Business and Corporate Banking, Transactional Banking and most recently Debt Capital markets looking after the investment needs of wholesale and institutional clients. She encourages women to back themselves.
Your greatest asset is ‘you’.
On this she refers to focusing on your strengths and the value you contribute to your team. She reveals that her own professional growth has come from the transferrable skills she has built. For her it has centred on building and valuing sustainable relationships. For women seeking distribution and relationship management roles within funds management, Alana says that she has learned that leaning on colleagues, clients and mentors has allowed her to continuously learn and grow!
Angela Dovitsas, Head of Marketing at Channel Capital has worked in funds management and private wealth management all of her career and also says that you should always believe in yourself and your ideas. In her earlier days, she remembers having had great initiatives but was often too worried to voice them. Ensuring you work with people who are open and allow sharing of knowledge also helps. Today, she ensures she does this with her team.
Looking at the driving factors that motivate these women in their roles, Kelli says that a day in the life of a fund manager is very dynamic! Markets are constantly changing, there’s new information to digest, new things to learn, diverse issues to understand. She feels privileged to be able to contribute to clients’ investment and superannuation outcomes and to have the opportunity to interact daily with some ‘seriously smart, talented and interesting people’ across different backgrounds and industries.
Financial markets always humble you, says Kate, and likes this challenging aspect of working in markets. Part of her day is spent on ensuring that the operational aspects of her role run smoothly, and involves a great deal of planning and optimisation, which is something she enjoys.
Alana says her no.1 focus is her clients. Learning about them, being aware of what motivates them, their risk appetite and investment objectives and often, in the case of business to business relationships, understanding their business and clients, as well as helping to further connect clients in other ways through referral or networking.
Angela says working with many different fund managers and their unique investment strategies excites her, but, greater is her drive and passion for helping to educate clients on various assets classes and the role different investments can play in investment portfolios – such as defensive alternatives like private debt and social impact investing. She believes trust is still the biggest issue for the financial services industry and to be successful, you really need to have a good foothold on what investors needs and objectives are, and the way they want to be engaged.
It’s not all rosy however. Kelli believes the financial services industry took a step backward during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) regarding diversity and she says that she’s not sure it has ever fully recovered. She believes it’s important to send the message out to girls and young women in high school and university that funds management is challenging, as well as interesting and rewarding and that there is a place for women where you don’t need to be super aggressive to succeed. She truly believes that from her own experience and plenty of external research in this area, that better decisions are made when there is diversity of thought. Females tend to bring a different angle to the table.
“You don’t need to be super aggressive to succeed. I truly believe from experience and plenty of external research backs this up that better decisions are made when there is diversity of thought. Females tend to bring a different angle to the table." Kelli Meagher, Portfolio Manager, Sage Capital.
Kate is more optimistic, and like Kelli is always keen to support other women become leaders. Last year, an aspiring young woman asked her how she could get a career in such a male dominated industry. To her surprise, Kate replied by providing her with evidence of female CEO's and fund managers thriving in the industry. Young women should not worry whether being female would be a drawback anymore. They should focus on excelling at the tasks at hand. Being very good at your job is a prerequisite for any gender. She says that she has been very lucky to be surrounded by courteous gentlemen and gracious women who respect her role and experience, and who provide equal opportunities to grow. Moreover, she believes having emotional intelligence is the key to dealing with stakeholders, no matter what gender.
“Young women should not worry whether being female would be a drawback anymore. They should focus on excelling at the tasks at hand. Being very good at your job is a prerequisite for any gender.” Kate Samranvedhya, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Jamieson Coote Bonds.
Alana is somewhere in the middle, as she sees room for improvement on this front. From her experience she believes organisations can lead by not only saying they value diversity, but by acting accordingly. For the most part, if employees are highly valued, then gender diversity is displayed through their actions and not just corporate policy.
Angela shares a more upbeat opinion. She says that throughout her career she has always worked with strong women. She recalls many mentors that inspired her through their vision and work ethos, and most of them shared similar qualities – they were inclusive, motivating and honest.
From an investing point of view, Kelli says healthcare is a sector to watch. One stock that stands out is Resmed, as it has done a great job in growing profits for many years in its core business of continuous positive airway pressure machines and masks for sleep apnoea, but it is not a company that rests on its laurels. In recent years, Resmed has shifted to really harnessing technology which has not only furthered the gap between the competition and increased its annuity type revenue streams, but has also opened doors for new areas of growth in adjacent segments such as nursing and healthcare services in the home.
As the population ages in developed countries and healthcare costs escalate, healthcare companies need to demonstrate that not only do their products produce better outcomes for patients but they lower the costs for the healthcare system as well. Resmed is setting itself up nicely to benefit from this theme.
The recent drawdown in equity prices by 10% in one week, has only happened five times in the past. Such events mark an end of an era, the fall of France in 1940, the October market crash in 1987, the tech bubble burst in 2000, and the global financial crisis in 2008. Kate is concerned that the financial repression era is upon us and quantitative easing is becoming less effective. The aggregate level of debt has been ballooning for years. She believes you may be better off staying in liquid asset classes in case the worst scenario materialises. It will pay off to read the fine print to understand the definition of liquidity.
Alana explains that many investors are concerned about slowing global growth, heighten volatility and a low interest rate environment which are all playing havoc on risk adjusted returns. This means investors will need think about how they reallocate assets to ensure their capital is preserved and that they hold quality assets during these tough times. Particularly for those in pre-retirement or retired where sequencing risk can be an issue.
In terms of marketing, Angela believes video marketing will be used more widely in the industry to help build trust in the people responsible for managing money and their core values. Content will still remain king with a focus on education. Given the heightened volatility in global markets and the geopolitics at play, she also believes investors will be looking deeper at how their investments are being managed, and seeking more defensive portfolio allocations – to help balance out the risk within portfolios.
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