Schulich Finance Professor delivers keynote address at Toronto launch of Women in ETFs
Pauline Shum, Professor of Finance and founding Director of Schulich’s Master of Finance Program, delivered the keynote speech to about 70 people attending the recent launch of the Toronto Region chapter of Women in ETFs. Schulich’s 12-month Master of Finance program offers three optional specialized streams in Capital Markets, Financial Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs for Financial Institutions. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) represent the fastest growing segment of the asset management industry over the last decade, with U.S. $3 trillion assets under management. ETFs are unique as they bring together professionals from many different sectors of the finance industry: ETF providers, index providers, institutional asset managers, financial advisors, stock exchanges, market makers, retail investors, and researchers.
The Global Women in ETFs organization was launched in January 2014 at the ETF.com Annual Conference in Florida. The launch was attended by 150 members, twice the expected number. Women in ETFs is a global organization with chapters in Europe, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, DC/Baltimore, Philadelphia, and now Toronto.
According to its mission statement, Women in ETFs aims to “bring together women in the ETF industry and by leveraging their collective skill and ambition, further the careers of women today, and inspire those in the future.”
For the launch of the Toronto Region chapter, 20 members, including co-chairs Deborah Frame and Tanya Rowntree, took part in the TMX market open, which was then followed by a “well-received inspiring speech” by Pauline Shum. The event was hosted by the National Bank Financial.
Chapter Co-Chair Deborah Frame received her Schulich MBA in 1979. Now Vice-President, Investments and Chief Compliance Officer at Cougar Global Investments LP in Toronto, Frame is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has held senior positions at a number of major investment companies, and sits on the Governance committee of the Toronto CFA Society.
After the launch, Frame shared some thoughts on career success for women working in the financial industry.
What is success to you?
To me, success is setting a goal and then achieving it.
What have been the biggest challenges for you and how did you overcome them?
When I graduated from Schulich School of Business over 30 years ago, I knew that I wanted to work in institutional investing. I was very fortunate to have had a couple of summers working on the trading desk at Manulife Financial and I saw it as a great fit given my undergraduate degree in economics and business, and my MBA with a concentration in finance. When I started in my first job after graduation at Mutual Life, I started working on my Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA). In the first 15 years of my career there were lots of opportunities to get promoted and I did graduate from being an analyst to an equity portfolio manager. The second half of my career has been more challenging. In the late ’90s and throughout the last decade, there has been consolidation in the industry as well as a shift more recently to alternative strategies including the use of Exchange Traded Fund strategies. When my last company decided to make a push in the direction of mutual funds, I made a deliberate decision to move away from them and towards ETF portfolios. I also have embraced the idea of risk as probability of loss rather than risk as volatility, which considers upside deviation from a mean return as just risky as downside deviation. In embracing these modern tools, I feel that the portfolios that we manage are far better suited to the changes in the economy that drive the markets.
What do you seek for the women in this sector?
We seek to increase the proportion of women joining the ETF industry, build a pipeline of women leaders for the ETF and broader Investment Industry, and amplify the voice of women leaders.
Do you have any advice for women now graduating from Schulich School of Business?
For women who are interested in finance and capital markets, my advice would be to aim for any entry point and then figure out, once working in the industry, where they would like to focus. I really believe in the benefits of having mentors but mentors pick who they choose to mentor, it doesn’t really work the other way around. Since there are still so few women in senior positions in the investment industry and senior men rarely pick junior women to mentor, women entering this business have a big disadvantage. As a more experienced woman in the industry, I really believe in doing whatever I can to encourage and help more junior women. I think every single woman who is in the industry and has an opportunity to help a more junior woman should step up. So find someone who can help you and hope that they will be willing to do that.
Anything you would like to share about Women in ETFs?
As the Canadian ETF industry is young, we have a chance to get it right this time. This starts at the very beginning of the pipeline, which is at the university level. We make our choices regarding career direction when we select our courses and majors.
I have absolutely loved the career that I have chosen and I would highly recommend it. I look forward to a time when there is an improvement in diversity at every level and corner of the industry. I am sad that there has been so little progress since I graduated over 30 years ago. I truly hope that some activism on the part of organizations such as Women in ETFs can change this so that women graduating today will not be discouraged and prevented from fulfilling their potential. The research is conclusive – that diversity in organizations at all levels and particularly in senior executive positions and on boards makes good business sense.