Leadership

Sensing An Opportunity, Female Investing Pros Form Networking Group

By / Aug 21, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

With a board in place and regional chapters ready to go, Women in ETFs has managed to grow quickly from a seed of an idea to a full-blown professional organization. Here’s how it formed, and where the group plans to go next.

“We looked around this huge conference, there were very few of us who were women. We were convinced there were other people like us. We thought perhaps we can start something.”

That, according to Linda Zhang of Windhaven Investment Management, was how she and  a few fellow attendees at a conference for exchange-traded fund (ETF) professionals became budding association executives.

Earlier this year, Zhang and four other women in the field took the plunge, launching Women in ETFs (WE). Zhang, who is vice president of the group, says the goal is to create career and networking opportunities for an underserved community in the financial space.

When you put 40 smart and gorgeous women together, great things will just happen.

“When you put 40 smart and gorgeous women together, great things will just happen,” she told Investor’s Business Daily.

Since launching in January, WE has quickly expanded: It’s built a nine-member board, has established regional chapters in North America and Europe, and has even gotten a website off the ground. Now the group has its eye on something else.

“With the governance structure, regional chapters, and leadership now in place, Women in ETFs is now soliciting indications of interest in membership,” WE says on its site.

Response has been strong so far, with ETF.com noting that the women at the helm of the organization make up something of a dream team, counting employees from ETFGI, ProShares, BlackRock, and PowerShares among its leadership.

“Together, these women form an impressive roster that casts a shadow in the ETF industry both here and globally,” the site’s Cinthia Murphy writes.

The group has momentum and some statistics in its favor: ETF Trends points out a recent Development Dimensions International study showing that financial firms with larger numbers of women in their leadership ranks tend to perform better than firms with mostly male leaders.

Still, it can be challenging to launch an association in the ETF space; last year, the National Exchange Traded Funds Association was shelved due to “lack of demand,” as many of the larger ETFs stayed with larger organizations.

For now, Women in ETFs is forgoing dues as it works toward a full launch, but the group plans to start charging in July 2015.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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