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Few women manage Indian funds

Sixty years after India launched its first mutual fund and about 20 years after the launch of its first private mutual fund, women continue to be under-represented in the country’s fund management space. A Business Standard analysis of data from Value Research shows 19 women fund managers collectively manage only Rs 1.31 lakh crore of the total assets of Rs 10.06 lakh crore (about 13 per cent).

These funds include passively managed ones such as exchange-traded funds, as well as those managed along with male fund managers.

Countries such as the US, too, have seen debates on the participation of women in management. The scant representation in that country was pointed to by a National Council for Research on Women report, ‘Women in fund management: a road map for achieving critical mass, and why it matters’. “Women represent a scant 10 per cent of traditional mutual fund managers and a lower percentage in alternative investments fields. Only three per cent of about 9,000 hedge funds have a woman in charge,” said the 2009 report.

Data show in India, women are far more active in the non-equity space compared to equities. Of the overall assets managed by women, about 85 per cent is under fixed income, feeder funds and other asset class schemes. The equity portion of the assets under management (AUM) under women managers stands at Rs 19,381 crore, or 1.9 per cent of the sector’s total AUM.

About 60 per cent of these assets are under two women fund managers — Swati Kulkarni, executive vice-president and fund manager (equities) at UTI Asset Management; and Roshi Jain, vice-president and portfolio manager (equities), Franklin Templeton India. Together, they handle assets worth Rs 11,787 crore.

WOMEN AT THE HELM OF FUND MANAGEMENT
SWATI KULKARNI
Executive vice-president and fund manager (equities), UTI Asset Management
AUM: Rs 6,478 crore (of schemes managed)
TOP SCHEMES MANAGED: UTI Dividend Yield Fund (1yr return: 48%), UTI Mastershare Fund (50%)

ROSHI JAIN
Vice-president and portfolio manager (equities), Franklin Templeton India
AUM: Rs 5,309 crore (of schemes managed)
TOP SCHEMES MANAGED: Franklin India Flexi Cap Fund (1-yr return: 66%), Franklin India Prima Fund (82%)

LAKSHMI IYER
Head of fixed income and products, Kotak Mutual Fund
AUM: Rs 20,789 crore (as a fixed income head)
TOP SCHEMES MANAGED: Kotak Liquid – Plan A (1-yr return: 10%), Kotak Floater Short Term (10%)

Analysts are quick to cite gender discrimination behind the massive gap in asset-class management. Believed to be relatively less stressful than equities, the debt space was a bigger draw for women, they said.

But women managers in the sector rubbish this. “It is a function of interest on the part of women and the choices they make. Fund management is a high-stress job, with high accountability, and such market-related stress is the same across equity and debt,” said Lakshmi Iyer, head of fixed income and products at Kotak Mutual Fund. She manages assets worth about Rs 20,000 crore.

Iyer, recently part of a global seminar on women fund managers, believes in terms of the representation of women in the mutual fund segment, India was no better than its global counterparts. “Globally, too, people are talking about how to increase penetration of women in the asset management space. But the same themes of stress and family keep coming up everywhere, whether abroad or in India,” she said.

Analysts said women were also shy of entering what was deemed to be a male-dominated space. “The number of women seeking to enter is, of course, much better than what it was five-six years ago. But compared to other financial services such as corporate banking and broking, the number is very low,” said Manish Sabharwal, chairman of TeamLease Services. “Besides, the number of women in the fund management sector will rise when there is incremental hiring. With the sluggish growth in assets, fund houses aren’t looking at increasing capacity anytime soon.”

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