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How Girls Who Invest is closing the gender gap in asset management roles

Katherine Jollon Colsher, CEO of Girls Who Invest, joins Yahoo Finance's On the Move to talk about closing the gender gap in managing money.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance On the Move. We were just talking to Liz Weikes from JP Morgan Securities, a woman who's achieved success in a high-profile position. But our next guest is going to talk with us and help us understand ways we can get more women into the pipeline to reach those kinds of positions.

And that's why we invite into the stream Katherine Jollon Colsher. She's the CEO of Girls Who Invest. And Girls Who Invest, the program, has a goal by 2030, is it, to have 30% of the people who advise us, who manage money to be in positions like our previous guest. Is that accurate?

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: It's for-- thank you so much, Adam. It's for 30% of the world's investable capital to be managed by women by 2030.

ADAM SHAPIRO: That's a pretty lofty goal. So how do you do that?

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: So we focus on having women in the pipeline for asset management industry, as well as executive leadership. And we do that in terms of our bread and butter, in terms of providing college sophomores with four weeks of free intensive education, a six-week paid internship at one of over 100 leading asset management firms, and then continued mentoring and supportive community from an alumni standpoint. And I'm pleased to share that over 500 women have gone through that program thus far, and that we have an 80% retention rate for women staying in the industry.

JULIE HYMAN: Katherine, your efforts are fantastic. It's definitely an uphill battle. There were some recent research that showed that it's going to take 200 years without anything changing, I guess, at this current pace for the number of women in investment management to be the same as men. How has the coronavirus pandemic affected all of this and all of your efforts in terms of sort of persuading young women to get into this business at a time-- yes, the market's been going up, but, you know, tech is still very attractive and certainly hiring, for example, and that seems to be the biggest source of competition.

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: So first, I would say it's certainly my goal for this to happen much more quickly than 200 years from now. So this is a goal that we are-- we are putting a much more ambitious timeline on than that. In terms of COVID, and tech, and just kind of the world order right now, when you work in the asset management industry, you get to touch so many different industries.

So it's not as if you can't focus on tech or you can't focus on consumer. So the-- the bread and butter of those jobs is incredibly stimulating, and it's also incredibly stimulating the analytics to make such important investment decisions that ultimately change portfolio's performance. So I think the jobs themselves are incredibly attractive.

In terms of COVID, we pivoted overnight in terms of what had been an in-person delivery model to deliver it online to women who go through the Girls Who Invest program. And I think what's so important about that is not only making sure that we have continuity at Girls Who Invest in delivering our program, but also helping these women learn what it's like to work in an online environment. You all are doing it now.

We do it day in and day out at Girls Who Invest. I was doing it in my prior role at Goldman. And helping the women who go through Girls Who Invest understand how to be nimble and agile in a work environment, regardless of whether it's remote or in-person, is very much something that we do and focus on. And we focus on maintaining mentorship and support of community, despite being remote, and we got very high marks on that with our scholars this summer.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Hi. It's Julia La Roche. And speaking of Goldman Sachs, because you just mentioned it, 52% of their summer interns were women. I don't recall ever seeing that in the past, but seems like maybe there's some progress starting to be made. I don't know the exact roles there.

But I often have this conversation about the pay gap that exists, but also the wealth gaps, specifically the investing gap. I was hoping you could unpack that further, because it's not only just getting women into these roles to manage money, but also just getting women kind of in the investing game. What are you doing as it relates to that?

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: So I would say that more and more money is being managed by women in terms of personal wealth, so there's also a huge needle being moved there. In terms of Girls Who Invest focus, our focus is making sure that women are also managing the money and investing the money. So you need to have more women in executive leadership positions and fill the pipeline in order to get there, so it's really rising all tides together to rise all boats. It's not an either/or, but our focus at Girls Who Invest is very much putting talent into the asset management industry.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So I want to bring it back to that first question I asked you, and this is a unverified figure, but total value of investable assets globally, I just did a quick Google search, $179 trillion. Take it with a grain of salt, perhaps. What is the number right now that is managed by women? Do you know that offhand? Because there's power in the growth of that-- that metric.

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: There's tremendous power in the growth of the metric. We tend to say that 80%-- excuse me-- $80 trillion is managed professionally globally, and less than 5% of that currently is being managed by women. So we have a huge way to go by 2030. What's encouraging are two things. One is that, as I mentioned earlier, we work with over 100 leading asset management firms who have committed to this mission and are bought into moving the needle on gender equity in the industry.

The other piece is that we have tremendous success finding talent. We work with college sophomores. We have an incredible response rate for the Girls Who Invest program. So we're seeing buy-in on the side of the asset management industry, and then we're also seeing the interest in terms of the women who are applying for Girls Who Invest.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Katherine Jollon-Colsher is the CEO of Girls Who Invest. We appreciate your being here.

KATHERINE JOLLON COLSHER: Thank you for having me.