GMM Attendees Invited to Join the Diversity Movement

NICSA members closed out NICSA’s 2018 General Membership Meeting with an intellectually honest discussion about the challenges and realities of diversity and inclusion within the industry. Dan Houlihan, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Fund Services, North America, Northern Trust, moderated the panel, which included forward-thinking representatives from Confluence, Fidelity, and Northern Trust.

Houlihan began with an overview of the NICSA-sponsored Diversity Project, an initiative launched on October 2nd that is focused on accelerating progress toward an inclusive culture within the asset management industry in North America.

“We have 14 founding member firms who are coming together with a two-pronged approach [to address the issue that] this industry is predominately run by white males,” Houlihan said.

Precisely how to fix that problem was the topic of the day’s discussion.Amy Philbrook, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Fidelity, said the issue boils down to attracting, retaining, and developing talent — and companies that want to have higher returns for their businesses have to astute in doing just that.

Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President – Head of CSR and Global Diversity & Inclusion, Northern Trust, said that the business case has been proven but hasn’t moved the industry to action. Gary Casagrande, Vice President, Global Market Strategy, Confluence, said non-minorities must learn to live in discomfort in order to see an improvement.

“We have to, as an industry, not just embrace this as a numbers game, but allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable and not let that discomfort immediately jump to self-judgement,” Casagrande said. “What often happens is when we move from discomfort into self-judgement, we recoil and say ‘I went to that one-hour panel and checked that box, now it’s time for me to move on.’”

Philbrook clarified the nomenclature surrounding the issue. “Diversity is the mix; inclusion is what you do with it,” she said. “Another way of saying that is diversity is you inviting me to the dance; inclusion is asking to dance. Diversity and inclusion can exist, but without equity, they cannot be effectively actuated.”

Houlihan said customers are relying on financial planners for increasingly broad purposes. “We’re in a beautiful point in time to rebrand what it means to be part of this industry,” he said. “This has become a digital business, and the role of a human in a digital business is to be as human as humanly possible. It’s about helping customers align their wealth strategy with their life purpose, and that’s a career that’s appealing to a really broad set of people.”

Now is the time to #JoinTheMovement – please contact NICSA at [email protected] if your company is interested in joining the Diversity Project.

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