Increasing interest from investors to allocate more capital into women owned and managed funds, coupled with public support from industry leaders, is spurring optimism for women in alternative investments, according to KPMG.
For its report, 2016 Global Women in Alternative Investments Report: The Time is Now: Real Change, Real Impact, Seize the Moment, KPMG surveyed and interviewed nearly 800 women professionals and industry leaders within the alternative investments sector, across hedge funds, private equity, venture capital and real estate in North America, UK, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
The majority of survey respondents believe North America offers the greatest opportunities for women in alternatives, with the UK and the remainder of Europe ranking second and third.
"This year's report uncovered a number of positive trends as firms, investors and industry organisations are taking some bold new steps to help move the needle," says Jim Suglia (pictured), alternative investments national practice leader for KPMG. "We strongly believe that with continued attention to these issues, the industry will keep pushing the boundaries to secure the future success of women in alternatives."
The survey found that many respondents remain optimistic, with 28 per cent planning to launch or manage a new fund in the next five years. Twenty six per cent of women-owned and managed funds expect to grow their fund to over USD1 billion in assets under management (AUM).
"With more women in investment-decision making roles, the industry will gain on a huge source of talent and insights in an area that is core to its success – returns," says Camille Asaro, audit partner in KPMG's alternative investments practice and co-author of the report.
The majority of respondents (79 per cent) also believe it is still more difficult for women fund managers to succeed in the alternative investments industry. The majority also believe that it is harder for women-owned and managed funds to attract capital.
Mandates and programmes for women-owned and managed fund increased to 10 per cent in 2016 from just two per cent in 2013. At a majority of investors, women-led funds represent less than 5 per cent of their total portfolio.
According to this year's report, emerging manger mandates are on the rise among investors, presenting additional opportunities for women-owned and managed funds. Forty per cent of women-owned and managed fund respondents have pursued emerging manager mandates, up from 31 per cent last year. Nearly half who pursued mandates this year won them.
However, while 32 per cent of investors polled said they expect an increase in their allocations to emerging managers over the next 18 months, only 16 per cent expect allocations to women-owned and managed funds to increase over the same timeframe.
Alternative investments audit partner Kelly Rau, also a co-author of this year's report, adds: "Although we have not seen considerable improvement in some areas since last year, there are signs of progress. Firms are embarking on creative initiatives designed to better retain and advance women in alternatives, and there are greater numbers of investors considering allocations to women-owned and managed funds."