Women fund managers fairly consistent in delivering returns

Mar 07, 2017
Out of the total assets managed by women fund managers, 80% of the AUM outperformed the benchmark/peer group average over 1-year basis, 71% over 3-year basis and 72% over 5-year basis.

Women are underrepresented in the fund manager ranks globally and it has been no different in India.  While gender equality is a topic that’s ever prevalent, women are vastly outnumbered by men in fund-management ranks not only in absolute terms but also relative to other professional industries.

At Morningstar India, we undertook a short study to evaluate gender diversity in the Indian mutual fund space. In our study, we’ve included women fund managers; both primary and co-managers, who have been managing active as well as passive open ended funds in India. This study celebrates the presence and success of women who are currently a part of the fund management industry. At the same time, statistics point towards a significantly lower ratio of women at the helm in this demanding industry.

In order to undertake this study, we looked at women fund managers who are named fund managers on active as well as passive open ended funds. We also included women who headed the equity and/or debt function within the fund house. Further, we looked at the funds and the total assets that each of the individual managers managed and arrived at the total assets that are managed by women in India. This was compared to the total assets under management across all fund managers to arrive at a percentage figure comparison.

As a part of this study, we found that a total of 18 women fund managers handle schemes either as primary/secondary managers or as heads of equity/fixed income. Today’s women fund managers constitute about 7% of the industry and manage a total of INR 2320 Billion, a figure that translates to about 15% of the total assets under management for open ended funds. This is much below the global standards with women being named fund managers at a relatively higher rate in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Spain, and Israel. At least 20% of fund managers are women in these markets.

Some women fund managers like Lakshmi Iyer – CIO (Debt) and Head of Products at Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Co. Ltd., Anju Chhajer – Senior Fund Manager at Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management and Sunaina Da Cunha – Fund Manager at Birla Sun Life Asset Management Co. Ltd. contribute significantly to the total assets managed cumulatively as primary and secondary managers of their funds. Managers like Roshi Jain – Fund Manager at Franklin Templeton Asst Mgmt(IND)Pvt Ltd, Sohini Andani – Fund Manager at SBI Funds Management Private Limited and Swati Kulkarni – Fund Manager at UTI Asset Management Company Ltd are managers that have been widely known and appreciated based on their individual styles and stock picks. In fact, Sohini Andani was also one of the top ten best ranked managers in the industry as per the ET Wealth- Morningstar Manager Rankings that was published in August 2016.

Needless to say, though we seem to have fewer women fund managers on board, the number seems to be going up gradually with new managers taking up the mantle of fund management over time. We have witnessed a couple of fund managers enter the space over the past couple of years - Hopefully we will see this trend continue over time.

Fund performance

We have observed that women fund managers tend to be fairly consistent in delivering returns. Out of the total assets managed by women fund managers, 80% of the AUM outperformed the benchmark/peer group average over 1 year basis, 71% over 3 year basis and 72% over 5 year basis. This has demonstrated the capability of the women to drive consistent performance through multiple market cycles and remain in the top quadrant.

A look at some women fund managers

At Morningstar, we have been evaluating few managers who make key investment decisions on the funds. Here are our views on a few such fund managers.

Anju Chhajer

Anju Chhajer is an experienced manager, managing funds since October 2009 and has an overall experience of 15 years on the fixed income side. Anju has been with Reliance Nippon Life AMC for the past nine years and has been managing ultrashort term and liquid strategies. Since Anju took the helm, her funds have outperformed the category average by a wider margin on a risk-adjusted basis. She monitors the macro-economic environment as well as the monetary policy drivers to ensure that client portfolios are positioned with the most optimal instruments to meet their return objectives for specified risk levels. She effectively manages the risk in the portfolio, is more focused on accrual income, and invests primarily in high quality credits. Broadly speaking, the funds managed by her have shown a phenomenal track record, reinforcing her credentials as a competent fund manager.

Lakshmi Iyer

Lakshmi Iyer is the woman fund manager who stunned with her investment style and broke the glass ceiling in the mutual fund industry. Where men still dominate the field, Lakshmi is the head of Fixed Income and doubles up as the Head of Products. She has been with Kotak for the past 17 years from April 2000. She had a hands-on experience on fund management and her contribution gives the team an edge.

Lakshmi debuted as a fund manager in 2000 and was responsible for credit research as well as deal execution till 2006. From September 2006 till September 2008 she was Heading Products where her primary responsibilities were product related initiatives, product pricing and coordinating with the funds management and sales team in the role of a portfolio specialist. However, post that she is heading the Fixed Income and Products team and continues to add value on the decision-making process on the fixed income side. She runs a team based approach which follows inclusive culture that fosters the collective input of investment specialist closest to the source of investment information. Her capabilities in understanding macro-economic environment and adaptability to change her view based on the environment has resulted in the funds delivering above average returns across market cycle and remaining in the top quartile.

Roshi Jain

Whether a global fund, a sector fund or a flexicap fund  -  portfolio manager Roshi Jain is adept at managing funds from across spectrum. Being a part of one of the most revered fund house and trained by some of the best fund managers in the Indian Mutual Fund Industry, Roshi has made a name for herself in the fund management space.

She is an old hand at Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund having joined the fund house in May 2005 as a research analyst tracking infrastructure and engineering sectors. She gained considerable experience as a research analyst which she uses to good effect in managing funds. Needless to say she is well ingrained into Franklin’s thought process and investment style. She started co-managing Franklin Asian Equity Fund alongside Sukumar Rajah (portfolio manager and CIO – Asian Equities) in January 2008 and became its lead manager in March 2012. Subsequently she became the co-manager for Franklin India High Growth Companies Fund in October 2012 alongside Siva Subramanian and became the lead manager in March 2014 after Siva’s retirement. In addition to that, she is also the co-manager of Franklin Build India Fund which is a thematic fund focusing primarily on Infrastructure sector.

In Franklin India High Growth Companies Fund, Roshi runs fund house’s one of the most aggressive investment strategies. This entails taking aggressive stock & sector calls, taking contra bets and as a result constructing a relatively concentrated portfolio. However, with her superior stock selection capabilities and with the support of high caliber investment team, Roshi has managed to make this approach work over a longer timeframe.

Sohini Andani

Sohini Andani is a fund manager that stands out on many fronts. She is recognized for being an extremely efficient stock picker in addition to her acknowledged capabilities on the research front. She currently manages 3 very diverse funds including the SBI Bluechip Fund, SBI Magnum Midcap fund and the SBI Banking and Financial Services Fund. Her ability to manage funds that range across the market cap spectrum with a consistent approach stands out about her style of management.

Andani is not new to the fund management space. She joined SBI in 2007 as the Head of Equity Research and played a pivotal role in setting up and training the new research analyst team at the fund house after it went through a flux in the 2008-2012 periods. She has been managing funds since 2010 and has over 19 years of work experience, a majority in research oriented roles. Her bent on research, focus on bottom-up stock picking and investments in her high conviction ideas stand out. She continues to track the IT and banking sectors in addition to her role as a fund manager. Andani’s adherence to the fund’s philosophy, her skill as an excellent stock-picker and her efficient execution of the strategy are a few positives on her funds. Her contrarian bent is evident in her stock picks and she can tend to extend her research to invest in IPO’s based on her conviction on these names. She aims to invest with the thought of mitigating risks and this is reflected in the lower downside risk across all the portfolios on her funds. She stands out as a prominent name in the fund management space and is amongst few celebrated women fund managers who have carved a niche for themselves in the investing world.

Swati Kulkarni

Swati Kulkarni is one of the most experienced fund manager in the Indian fund industry and has impressed with her stock selection capabilities and disciplined investment approach. She got into fund management at a time when the industry was in a nascent stage and underrepresentation was striking in comparison with other types of jobs that required similar levels of education. A seasoned manager, Swati has been associated with UTI AMC for the last 24 years. She served as an equity analyst with the fund company before taking on fund management duties in June 2004, and is currently an Executive Vice President at UTI AMC. She has also worked in other diverse areas such as mutual fund research, market research, product reviews and quantitative analysis, as part of the Research and Planning team at UTI.

Swati has managed a variety of funds and has executed the process across various market conditions with a high degree of success. Traces of a “buy and hold” approach are evident in her investment style. She places more emphasis on identifying quality stocks with good corporate governance standards. Having said that, she is not averse to mid-cap stocks but she mainly focuses on high return on capital and huge cashflows. She is acknowledged as a competent fund manager who has impressed not only her excellent long term track record but also as a good steward of fund shareholder’s capital.

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