New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in partnership with GCM Grosvenor and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), recently collaborated with investors representing over $300 billion in assets to host a Hedge Fund Forum on Diversity.
The Forum, held last month in New York City, was led by Keith Glenfield, Head of Alternative Investments for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Michael Sacks, Chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor. The event, created to reinforce the importance of diversity in the industry, was attended by founders and senior executives from more than 40 hedge fund firms.
In his opening remarks, Glenfield urged participants to provide change leadership, noting that, “Diversity is a global business imperative, an important aspect of what makes advice, teams and solutions better and ultimately makes the industry stronger.” Mr. Sacks led an investor roundtable and acknowledged that “GCM Grosvenor is proud to be leading on this important issue.” The roundtable included speakers from the Employees Retirement System of Texas, Exelon Corporation, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer’s Office, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The call for leadership and action was clear as investors discussed the state of the industry, how their institutions viewed the topic, and the best approaches to increase the presence of diverse professionals in the hedge fund space. SEO identified three critical audiences along the talent continuum: college students, banking analysts and associates, and mid-career professionals. There is an opportunity with each group for managers to lend support and help construct a program that will focus on building a pipeline while also developing and training their existing talent base.
Martina Edwards, Director of SEO Alternative Investments programs, illustrated to forum attendees how SEO has been delivering well-vetted, high-achieving talent to leading partner firms for decades, and has served as a partner in finding diversity solutions that align with their respective business needs. She noted that, “SEO is looking to work with the hedge fund industry to create a bespoke program that will, over time, help to increase diversity at multiple career stages and equip the next generation of practitioners with the tools for success.”
SEO was recognized during the event for the strategic role it has played in furthering diversity through two key programs – SEO Career and SEO Alternative Investments. Since 1980, SEO Career has recruited and trained over 6,400 outstanding college students of color for summer internships with investment banks, corporate law firms and other leading Fortune 500 companies. SEO Alternative Investments, launched in 2009 and critically guided by a now 27-member LP Advisory Council, provides education, exposure, training and mentoring opportunities to talented finance professionals and college students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the alternative investments sector.
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