Sallie Krawcheck — who was once the most powerful woman on Wall Street running Merrill Lynch’s global wealth management unit — just launched the first-ever women-focused mutual fund.
Almost two years after leaving Wall Street, Krawcheck purchased women’s networking group 85 Broads, which was previously a Goldman alumnae group named after the address of the bank’s old headquarters.
It was reported at the time she was considering launching an investment arm.
She just renamed the 30,000-plus member organisation to “Ellevate”, referring to the group’s mission to advance women in the workplace. (She came up with that name while on a run).
Now, Ellevate Asset Management has teamed up with Pax World Management LLC to launch the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund — a mutual fund that will invest in companies around the world that advance women.
“This is a fund that will be investing in the top 400 companies in the world for advancing women — So based on proportion of women on boards, proportion of women in senior management, etc. and directing investment capital toward those companies.”
She doesn’t consider investing in companies based on gender diversity a “non-performance related” factor either. She pointed out that research shows how greater diversity in senior management is associated with a range of good things such as higher return on equity, lower volatility and greater client focus.
“But there has not been a mutual fund or an index fund out that has been investing in this.”
Some of the companies the mutual fund is investing in include Pepsi, Lockheed Martin, Procter & Gamble, GE, Estee Lauder, Aetna and TD Bank. These companies, she explained, are ones where women hold about 31% of the board seats and 24% of senior management positions compared to the global averages of 11% for each of those factors.
“What was interesting to me…these are are broad, global, high quality companies. We’re not talking about niche plays here.”
The new mutual fund also has the potential to shed light on the opportunity for gender diversity in the senior ranks.
“One of the great things about capitalism is you can shine lights on things and the capital goes where the returns are.”
Like any fund, though, there’s the possibility of underperforming broader indices.
“I think we’re going to. Right, at some point, that’s what happens with funds. This is for long-term investors. This is not for short-term investors. We believe based on the research the performance will come out,” she said.
“If you have conviction about something, you take a little risk and then you have to take a stance.”