Investing used to be a game reserved for wealthy, well-connected, and well-educated… men. But, we are pleased to report, this is changing.
With it now possible for anyone to invest online in just a few minutes, the industry is being dragged out from behind the curtain of the (mostly male) IFAs and brokers who once guarded it.
There is also, finally, more information being made publicly available on what lies beneath the bonnet of funds. What companies do they invest in, and are they having a positive or negative impact on the planet and society? These questions have fuelled the rise of sustainable investing, an approach proving particularly popular with women.
A shift that is happening much more slowly, is the percentage of investment funds managed by women compared to men. The industry average for female-led funds is still only four per cent. A study by Morningstar in 2021 found there are more funds in the UK run by men called Dave than by women! This is despite a growing body of research showing that women possess qualities that give them a real edge on men in the markets.
The Big Exchange, a Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ firm, is working to change this imbalance, with 40 per cent of the 60+ funds available on its platform being managed by women. It enables investors to find these funds through its “Female-led Fund” filter. In fact, the platform’s highest performing fund over the last five years is run by women.
So, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we’ve rounded up the top-performing sustainable investment funds available on The Big Exchange that are run by women.
1. Baillie Gifford Positive Change Fund
Fund managers: Michelle O’Keeffe, Kate Fox, Lee Qian, Thaiha Nguyen and Ed Whitten
The Baillie Gifford Positive Change Fund is by far the best-performing fund over five years on The Big Exchange, delivering a 107.4 per cent return in the five years to February 2023. The £2.5 fund fund fell 13.3 per cent in 2022 (a terrible year for most investments), but it saw a small rebound at the start of this year, climbing 0.6 per cent so far in 2023.
The fund – which has a gold medal from The Big Exchange, making it an “impact leader” – invests in shares of companies based anywhere in the world whose products or practices have a positive impact on people’s lives or the planet. Its focus is on businesses that are tackling challenges and making improvements in four key areas: social inclusion; environment and resources; healthcare; and services for low income households.
2. Quilter Investors Ethical Equity Fund
Fund manager: Claudia Quiroz
The Quilter Investors Ethical Equity Fund rose 51.2 per cent over the five years to February 2023 and has seen the biggest rise among female-led funds over the last 12 months, returning 5.9 per cent.
The £123 million fund aims to achieve income and capital growth from companies that demonstrate sound ethical practices and to outperform the FTSE World Index (which is made up of over 3,100 companies across 47 countries), after charges, over rolling five-year periods.
The fund, which has a silver medal from The Big Exchange for “high positive impact”, invests only in companies that have passed a negative screen to avoid poor practices or unethical activities. They have also then passed a positive screen to identify companies that promote efficiency in areas such as energy, water, resource and food.
3. abrdn Global Equity Impact Fund
Fund managers: Sarah Norris and Dominic Byrne
The abrdn Global Equity Impact Fund returned 40.2 per cent over the five years to February 2023 and 4.4 per cent in the last 12 months.
The £99 million fund, which has a gold medal from The Big Exchange, aims to generate growth over the long term by investing in equities (company shares) which aim to create positive measurable environmental and/or social impacts. Its impact criteria can include areas such as sustainable energy, recycling practices, health and social care, sanitation, education and employment, agriculture, housing and financial inclusion.
4. Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity
Fund manager: Ingrid Kukuljan
The Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity fund has grown 33.4 per cent over the five years to 2023 and 4.9 per cent over the last 12 months.
The fund invests in the shares of companies that are well positioned to benefit from meeting the world’s environmental and social challenges. These companies have the potential to provide innovative solutions to society’s needs and deliver a positive social and environmental impact.
The £362.7 million fund invests in a diversified portfolio of companies of any size, listed on regulated stock markets around the world. The stocks selected, often in new and growth industries, must meet strict impact, financial, and ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. By bringing together insights from their own stewardship team, EOS at Federated Hermes, and engaging with portfolio companies, the managers encourage better ESG practices to support long-term returns.
Top performing female-led funds on The Big Exchange:
|Fund name||5 years||4 years||3 years||2 years||1 year|
|Baillie Gifford Positive Change||107.4%||93.5%||48.9%||-13.3%||0.6%|
|Quilter Investors Ethical Equity Fund||51.2%||56.4%||36.8%||19.1%||5.9%|
|abrdn Global Equity Impact Fund||40.2%||43.4%||26.2%||3.9%||4.4%|
|Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity||33.4%||25.5%||10.4%||-11.7%||4.9%|
*Table correct as of end February 2023
Risk warning: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. The value of investments can go up and down and your capital is at risk.