skip to navigation skip to content

Fund management

Diversity in the asset management industry improves perspective and decision making, Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, says in a Cambridge Judge Business School interview.

Hanneke Smits talking about diversity and fund management.

The investment management sector needs to broaden its recruitment intake and ensure that those hired are properly mentored in order to increase diversity, Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, says in a Cambridge Judge Business School interview series.

“What we really need to do is two things: recruit differently at graduate level” to widen the pool of potential new hires to a broader mix of backgrounds, “and secondly you have to be very active in your mentoring and talent development to ensure that those you have taken in feel included and can progress their careers, or otherwise you’re going to have to start again.”

Progress is already being made to diversify the fund management industry, but it will take some time for women recruited into the pipeline to rise to the very top levels, she says.

“The business case for (diversity) I think has been at this point well made and well understood: it’s really about the value of perspective (which is) important for business decision-making in companies at large.”

Hanneke Smits became CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management in October 2020, after serving as CEO of Newton Investment Management, a BNY Mellon Investment Management firm. She is co-founder and first Chair of Level 20, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2015 to inspire women to join and succeed in the private equity industry.

The remarks by Hanneke Smits came in a video interview with David Chambers, Invesco Reader in Finance and Academic Director of the Centre for Endowment Asset Management at Cambridge Judge.The interview is part of a series entitled CJBS Perspectives: Leadership in Unprecedented Times, organised by the Alumni & External Engagement and Executive Education teams at Cambridge Judge. The interview is entitled “From COVID-19 to gender and diversity representation in the financial services sector”.

Hanneke Smits says that the investment management industry as a whole “has proven to be remarkably resilient” during the coronavirus pandemic from both relative performance and operational viewpoints.

“If you look at the industry as a whole, while markets have been choppy we haven’t really seen many fund suspensions, which is of course very important because investors need to remain confident in asset management as a sector, and we’ve really only seen some of those suspensions in some small funds in commercial property but not in mainstream asset management,” she says.

“And then if you take it to a very different level I would say that while this environment is very challenging it’s created opportunities for asset management to really prove its worth and to ensure that we remain focused on enhancing our clients’ financial wellbeing, which is really what we’re all about.”

Watch the video "CJBS Perspectives with Hanneke Smits"