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Have Women Been Successful in the Male-Driven Hedge Fund Industry?

Sat, 04/09/2011 - 2:12am | by Guest (not verified)

The question is no longer if women have been successful in a particular industry, but to what degree. Women success stories abound in all manner of commercial enterprises, especially in the financial services industry. However, the Hedge Fund sector of financial services has at times appeared to be the last bastion of male domination to be overcome. A recently published report seeks to shed light on this very topic. The Hedge Fund Journal, in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers, has produced a report entitled, “50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds”. In its first sentence, the author admits, “In an industry that celebrates the accomplishments of alpha males, it is often overlooked how many successful women are working in key roles in hedge funds. But despite estimates that women manage only 3% of the $1.5 trillion invested in hedge funds, a growing number of entrepreneurial, innovative and accomplished women now work in a variety of roles with funds, service providers and investors.”

Hedge funds span the globe, and focus on using advanced trading strategies to aggressively manage portfolios of securities, commodities or forex currencies to provide high returns in excess of accepted industry averages. Investor participation is restricted due to high-risk profiles, but the popularity of these funds is undisputed. Global estimates are rough, but experts believe that over 10,000 firms exist today, utilizing the best talents for money management on the planet. Research conducted in the industry has consistently confirmed that women tend to be more risk averse than their more “risky” male counterparts. This “style” difference translates to better performance on average. Women-owned firms have achieved an average annual return of 9% versus an industry composite figure just under 6%. Withdrawal-risk also appears to be half of what other firms have experienced during market downturns as well. Women have established a “beachhead”, though small, in this male-dominated space, but the need for innovation and creative thinking cries out for an increasingly “feminine” touch. The report singles out fifty professional women that have achieved success as responsible leaders in this slice of the financial services industry. Here are a few from the top of the list:

  • Elena Ambrosiadou – Founder and CEO – IKOS – Cyprus: Ms. Ambrosiadou founded IKOS in 1991 as one of the first independent hedge funds in Europe. The IKOS asset base is presently $1.5 billion. With over 25 years of experience in hedge fund management, she is a frequent conference speaker. In her spare time, she is involved with many charitable foundations.
  • Victoria Aston-Duff – A Managing Director of Angelo, Gordon Europe Ltd. – London: After 17 years with Bear Stearns, Vicki joined forces with Angelo, Gordon in 2008 as Head of Europe. Her focus has been new business development and consulting, while also serving as a Board Director. She has been heavily involved in expanding the global reach of the firm leading to an AUM figure of $22 billion.
  • Terri Becks – President and CEO, Campbell & Co. – Baltimore: Ms. Becks became President and CEO of managed futures pioneer Campbell & Co. in 2007, which followed a 16-year career as the firm’s CFO.
  • Tanya Beder – Founder and CEO, SBCC Group – New York: With over 25 years of market experience, Ms. Beder founded SBCC Group in 1987. In 2004, she was recruited to establish Tribeca Global as its CEO and manage seed capital of $2.5 billion. At the time, she was one of a handful of women successfully managing a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. She returned to SBCC in 2006.
  • Gina Biondo – Tax Partner, Price Waterhouse Coopers – New York: With over 20 years of experience, 13 as Tax Partner with PWC, Ms Biondo specializes in distressed debt, special opportunities, and hedge/private equity classes. Her client base includes many of the largest and most complex alternative investment managers in the marketplace.

These successful women are only the top five of fifty selections from a wide base of talented women in the hedge fund industry. A path has been blazed where none was before, and opportunities will surely expand for future prospects to achieve new levels of success.

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