In 2019, as she was launching her company, Lisa Langley had no idea that she was creating the first woman-owned investment firm in Canada. More troubling: In 2022 it remains the only woman-owned investment firm in the country.
As Emerge Canada launches 10 new ETFs [EMPWR ETFs] designed to support and highlight women-led investment managers and sustainable investing, Langley, Emerge founder and CEO, notes that women represent only 14 per cent of global fund managers at the largest U.S. institutional money managers. That record of gender disparity appears no better in Canada.
Emerge Canada is affiliated with Emerge Capital Management Inc. (ECM) in the U.S., which was founded in 2016. Its first female sub-advisor was Cathie Wood, CEO of investment management firm Ark Invest. Langley has researched the status of portfolio managers who are women and hosted a large conference on the subject in New York City in November of 2018 to confirm her findings.
“It was an emotional and powerful event,” Langley says. “We learned that, if you’re an emerging portfolio manager who is a woman inside a larger firm, you don’t often have a track record as a member of a team, or an equity position that allows you to break out on your own. So many women are on the fringes of portfolio management, supporting it, but without getting into those more lucrative roles.”
Langley notes that she has never advocated for the notion that either men or women are more skilled investors.
“All of the women involved with EMPWR have benefited from brilliant male investment mentors,” she says. “It’s not about who has the sharper pencil. But with only 11 per cent of investment assets in North America — a number that is dropping — managed by women, we’re at an infection point. We’re beginning to wonder if institutional advisors are even aware of how many strategies in their portfolios are managed by women. We believe such a disclosure would be a good start.”
The10 EMPWR ETFs (five in Canadian dollar units and five in U.S.-dollar units) were launched simultaneously on both sides of the border— the first ever dual launch for a new fund.
The ETFs will provide Canadians with access to U.S. and Canadian-based investment managers. Emerge has retained ECM to act as sub-adviser and ECM has retained portfolio managers in women-run investment firms with strong track records in the investment sector to advise them. Each ETF employs actively managed strategies informed by a fundamental research process.
“The Empower advisors are senior portfolio managers, each with more than 25 years of experience who have had the guts and courage to set up their own shops,” Langley says. “Unlike the typical US requirement, which is quite prejudiced, we do not require them to have majority control of their firms. They need own at least one share in their firm and manage a minimum of $50 million in assets.”
The new EMPWR ETFs are:
Langley says that she doesn’t expect the new woman-advised ETFs to level the playing field all by themselves.
“We want to offer the market a choice — to create some demand, and maybe inspire others to create investment products that feature women portfolio managers,” she says. “Perhaps we can inspire women to see that this can be a viable career for them, and where they can make a great living. Judging from the calls I’m receiving from women around the world following the launch of these ETFs, we’re lighting a small fire that has the potential to burn much, much brighter.”
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Emerge Canada Inc.