On January 28, Fondsfrauen, the largest German speaking professional female network, had their 5th flagship event in Mannheim.
Fondsfrauen's Mannheim event attracted 270 registered delegates, marking a new record in its history, with a pool of high-caliber speakers and panelists from across the asset management industry.
A special workshop for IFAs and a new initiative for young professionals was offered ahead of the main event. The current hot industry topics of digitalization and ESG were supported by keynotes and panel discussions. Management consultant and coach Silke Foth caused a lot of fun talking about male rituals that still prevail in the business area. Business owner Jasmine Taylor talked about how she failed before standing up again and becoming more successful.
A look back
Fondsfrauen started its mission back in 2015, with three board members, a handful of corporate supporters and a few individual members. Back then, the feedback was rather belittling, and the group was not taken seriously. The first summit in 2016 was in a small location, with approximately 100 women in attendance, and it was handled with very few resources and hardly any budget.
Fast forward to today, Fondsfrauen has become a movement and taken very seriously! Over 2,300 women in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg arein the community, more than 40 companies support Fondsfrauen as sponsors, supporters or business members. And the date of the Fondsfrauen Summit in January is now set on the agenda of women...and a few enlightened men.
Fondsfrauen has set benchmarks with regular research:
- For the first time in 2015, it looked at Germany to gauge how many female portfolio managers are active there. Other researchers followed this leading example, and today there are various similar studies in other markets.
- An important benchmark is the widely regarded study "Fearless Girls?", which was published together with the University of Mannheim in 2018. "We wanted to determine the reasons why so few young women are looking for careers in our industry. The young professionals initiative is our answer to these results."
- In 2016 and 2018, Fondsfrauen conducted a survey together with KPMG, to reveal the true status quo of diversity in regards to the 30% quota in Germany. The results were appalling and show how much more needs to be done. Another survey will follow in 2020.
- In 2019 Fondsfrauen hosted the first awards in Germany together with media partner FondsProfessionell. The winners were: Fidelity as Company of the Year, Evi Vogl (CEO of Amundi Germany) as Role Model of the Year and Dr. Mechthild Upgang (CEO Upgang AG) as Woman of the Year.
In her introductory speech at the recent Summit, Anne Connelly, co-founder, said: " Our movement is now approaching the next level. We started our young professionals program and today we can welcome the first students to our workshop and speed dating with the supporting companies Union, Deka, DWS and Fidelity. It is an important initiative. If we succeed in attracting more female talents to our industry, especially in functions in which women are understaffed, such as in portfolio management and sales, then we have great opportunities to have more women in many areas in the future and can promote them."
Anke Dembowski, co-founder, added: "The word has spread beyond the fund industry. We have received many inquiries from companies operating in the financial sector and not exclusively focused on liquid funds. Corestate is a new supporting member with us, but also banks like the Raiffeisenbank Austria. We have therefore decided to approach companies in the financial sector more consciously. We will all benefit from attracting more female talent to finance."
What are the plans for 2020?
Fondsfrauen is seeking to build on the commitments outlined, including:
- Complete re-launch of the websites, both German and English.
- Strengthen social media activities: We now have nearly 1,100 followers on LinkedIn. But Instagram is also an important channel, especially for young talent.
- Increase activities with universities as part of the young professionals initiative.
- Continue and expand regional meetings in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
- Partnerships with international associations to expand our impact.
- We actively work with event producers on balanced panels and with our members to become speakers.
Manuela Froehlich, co-founder, said: "With our approach of making offers for women such as network meetings or mentoring, setting our own research benchmarks, creating our own editorial content such as interviews and exciting articles and working with decision-makers in companies, we have developed into THE professional career network, which is here to stay, contrary to the critics we had at our very beginning. And we have plans to expand into other financial areas and more countries, as we see such a demand for it."