Article: Women Portfolio Managers Outpace Men’s Performance in this Down Market

Scott Treacy | November 2, 2022

Women led or co-led portfolio management teams have outperformed their male counterparts, year-to-date in global large-cap equity. Based on data submitted by asset managers to the Investment Metrics Manager Research database (here), active returns from portfolios lead by women had a median return of -2.6% compared to a -5.9% figure from male led teams.  During this frightful downturn of public equities in 2022, it seems that women have done a better job at protecting assets.  Similar to the analysis we have done in years past, The Portfolio Gender Gap is Big and Investors are Losing Out and Top Women Led/Co-Led Portfolio Management Teams, we reviewed women’s representation as lead portfolio managers in global large-cap equity, how the group has performed compared to men, and which women led teams have consistently outperformed the index.

The analysis reviewed 90 different GIPS compliant portfolios1 from 73 different asset management firms in the global large-cap equity peer group. A list of the firms included can be found below. We evaluated the gross-of-fee calendar year active returns against each portfolio’s style benchmark from 2012 through 2021, as well as the year-to-date performance through September 2022. The MSCI All-Country World style indices were used to calculate the active returns.

Not surprising, yet still shocking to see, women led portfolio management teams only make up 14% of the overall global large-cap equity peer group sample. Just 13 of the 90 products considered were either led or co-led by a woman. This percentage is the same figure we saw last year when we reviewed the global large-cap public equity active manage peer group. Separately, when analyzing from the total strategy asset level, women managed $90 billion (B) of the $698 billion in total strategy assets or 13%. The women led teams with the most assets include Walter Scott ($39.6B), Ninety One ($14.1B), Pzena ($7.9B), Epoch ($7.8B), and Loomis Sayles ($6.7B).

The MSCI All-County World index is down 25.3% through September 2022 and women led portfolio management teams have done a markedly better job against their style indices.  It was a similar story to what we saw in 2018 when the same index was down 8.9% over that calendar year.  At least in the near term, it would seem that women led teams do a better job at protecting assets in down markets.  Some of the top performing year-to-date portfolios include Ariel Investments Global Equity (+11.6% active return), Walter Scott Global Equity (+3.5% active return), Clearbridge Global Growth (+2.7% active return), Hardman Johnston Global Equity (+2.3%), and Epoch Global Shareholder Yield (+1.9%).

Some of the women led portfolios that performed most consistently have outperformed their index 64% of the time, based on calendar year time periods going back to 2012 and year-to-date.  The average active return, in the case of Cassandra Hardman at Hardman Johnston, over the past decade has been an impressive 2%.  Additionally, in looking at the strategy asset level for these portfolios there is clearly capacity for these teams to take on more institutional assets.   

Women are underrepresented as portfolio managers across the global large-cap equity peer group and while some asset management firms have made progress in gender parity, others have a long way to go.  Our analysis shows there is a strong case to build female led teams: their recent performance in down markets has demonstrated their ability to navigate volatile capital markets.  More women should be given more opportunities to lead portfolio management teams at asset management firms and more institutional investors should be directing assets towards women led portfolios.

Firms Included in the Analysis

[1] CFA Global Investment Performance Standards,


The material presented in this document is an assessment of the market environment as of the date indicated; is subject to change; and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any funds or any issuer or security or similar.

This document contains general information only, does not consider an individual’s financial circumstances and should not be relied upon for an investment decision. Rather, an assessment should be made as to whether the information is appropriate in individual circumstances and consideration should always be given to consult a Financial Advisor before making an investment decision. 

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