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Female Buy-Side Leaders Mentor Aspiring Finance Professionals on Investment Trends and Striking a First Impression

Female Buy-Side Leaders Mentor Aspiring Finance Professionals on Investment Trends and Striking a First Impression

Published 10-26-23

Submitted by Bloomberg

People in a virtual meeting
Top left to bottom right: Virginie Maisonneuve, Global Equity CIO, Managing Director, Allianz Global Investors; Kazuko Sakaguchi, President and CEO, AllianceBernstein Japan; Chang Shu, Chief Asia Economist, Bloomberg; and Lakshmi Iyer, CEO Investment & Strategy, Kotak Alternate Asset Managers

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Global geopolitical tensions, the Ukraine War, shifting supply chains and the prospect of a global recession reflect the complexities that are increasingly shaping investment decisions in Asia-Pacific. This outlook impacts current and aspiring buy-side leaders in how they look to leverage the current environment to gain a foothold in this rapidly evolving industry.

To mark the Bloomberg Women’s Buy-Side Network’s (BWBN) 5th anniversary, we gathered some of the network’s most senior buy-side experts to share their investment outlook and offer valuable career advice with aspiring finance students and those looking to break into the industry.

Women leaders in Asia and Europe’s buy-side sector connected with around 200 university students throughout both regions to share their thoughts on upcoming investment trends, risks and opportunities and how to strike an impression in a competitive job market.

Geopolitics shaping investments in Asia

A number of panelists observed a new emphasis on security globally – including within the Asia-Pacific region – with countries allocating more resources to national security concerns, potentially indicating that the peace dividend era is now over.

Rising inflation and high interest rates around the world may also change consumer behaviors, noted Kazuko Sakaguchi. For example, countries like Japan have struggled with deflation for nearly three decades, seeing companies and households alike holding onto too much cash. There is a big shift in behaviors underway as companies are incentivized by inflation to spend and use excess cash to grow or find other avenues for investment.

It was also agreed that China – while currently faced with demographic and economic challenges – remains an important destination and driver for investment, given its role in global markets and its strong consumer purchasing power. According to Lakshmi Iyer, India’s own growth has also been noteworthy and is increasingly demanding investor attention, with the emergence of that market as a focal point in global supply chains. The growing stability of the Indian economy and the healthy flow of foreign capital will continue to captivate investors, with the national election in 2024 seen as the next milestone of note.

Digital Darwinism the way forward

Virginie Maisonneuve, alongside other panelists, posited that Darwinism – the theory that the fittest companies and economies will be the ones to survive and thrive in the future – is alive and well in the digital space. Chang Shu cautioned that technology and ‘Digital Darwinism’ could have implications for the geopolitical landscape in Asia. She highlighted that access and knowledge are both necessary when it comes to technology in order to ensure meaningful growth for communities, businesses and countries.

Diverse career journeys leading to the buy-side

Senior female leaders candidly shared stories about their respective career journeys and experiences which eventually led them to the buy-side. Some joined as part of a graduate program while others dabbled in investment management and strategy before entering the sector. While their starting points and paths differed greatly, the senior buy-side professionals encouraged students to keep an open mind because similar with their journeys, many roads can lead to the same destination.

In reflecting on their participation in BWBN, they agreed that the promotion of true inclusion and equity across the industry remains necessary – both because it’s ‘the right thing to do’, but also to ensure high-quality business and investment decisions with a wider diversity of voices driving decision-making among asset managers and the buy-side at large.

People in a virtual meeting
Top left to bottom right: Kimberly Kim, Managing Director, Blackrock; Cassandra Crowe, Vice President, T. Rowe Price, Group, Inc.; Carol Lee, Senior Vice President, Account Manager, PIMCO; and Chunyen Liu, Chief Investment Officer, AIA Singapore

Standing out in a competitive job market

For fresh graduates and aspiring finance professionals looking to break into the industry, the leaders shared some valuable insights on how one can stand out from the crowd, particularly in today’s competitive job market. With fundamental tests and academic credentials leveling the playing field for most entry level jobs, now more than ever, emotional intelligence and the ability to navigate different situations are key differentiators amongst candidates, explained Chunyen Liu and Carol Lee.

Beyond typical skills, Cassandra Crowe recommended candidates be bold and bring their passion and energy to any role. She referenced recent research conducted by the CFA Institute and the Australian National University which found when women lean in to ask for promotions, they are usually equally or even more successful than their male counterparts. The data suspects this is largely due to their natural tendency to only put their hands up for roles they are very well qualified for.

On navigating one’s overall career for the long run, Kimberly Kim shared her insights on the importance of learning and uncovering one’s purpose and values in their professional journey.

To wrap up the fifth anniversary celebration, each female leader left one parting piece of advice for those looking to break into the industry:

  • Be open to different career paths. Don’t be fixated on a particular route, as you never know where opportunities can take you. –Chang Shu
  • Don’t trust yourself too much. Instead, be aware of what you know and what you don’t know, because this will be how you can prevent fatal mistakes. Stay intellectually curious. –Kazuko Sakaguchi
  • Be an APE – Agility in thought and deeds, Patience in building your career step by step and have an Eye for detail in all that you do. –Lakshmi Iyer
  • Just do it. Try things out and follow your intuition. –Virginie Maisonneuve
  • Be kind to yourself and support each other. Try your best in all that you do, but don’t dwell on things that – according to your own standard – you didn’t excel in. Don’t place focus on all the things you didn’t achieve, but instead on the ones you did and celebrate the little successes. –Chunyen Liu
  • Be open minded, because the world goes fast so adopting a growth mindset to everything around you is crucial. Anything can be possible! Learn from failure and success equally. –Carol Lee
  • Set yourself free from judgment, self-criticism and worrying about what others think. Be authentic about who you are, as we’re all unique in our own ways. –Kimberly Kim
  • Go for it and trust your instincts! – Cassandra Crowe

About BWBN 
The Bloomberg Women’s Buy-side Network (BWBN) is a global network led by a group of senior industry leaders who aspire to serve as role models for the next generation of women on the buy-side. As the first women’s buy-side network of its kind, it was created to advance the social purpose of the industry and spotlight its leading practitioners. The network promotes meritocracy and inclusion in the industry, and educates on the diversity of career paths within the buy side. 
The network started in Asia in 2018, with chapters opened in Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Japan. From 2021, the network expanded globally with chapters added in Australia, New Zealand, California, New York and Brazil.

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