The field of finance is sorely lacking in diversity. Female representation is especially pronounced in senior positions. In banking, for instance, less than one-third are in C-suite and senior vice-president roles. The gap narrows further in asset management, where women of color representation has not changed since 2018, according to a McKinsey report.
Can Girls Who Invest help change the status quo for women in finance?
Are Girls Who Invest Good?
Since 2016, Girls Who Invest has educated and trained 14,000 young women. Over 75 percent of the non-profit organization’s Summer Internship Program scholars now work in the world of professional finance. The results clearly mirror the capabilities of Girls Who Invest, which is located in New York City – one of the world’s leading financial hubs.
Just how good is Girls Who Invest?
According to word of mouth, it is doing a phenomenal work for women who want to be in the finance industry. In its first year, the organization received over a hundred applications. The first class in 2016 started with 26 young women and in 2021, Girls Who Invest (GWI) saw 530 women complete programs. Clearly, young women in colleges across the country have discovered a place where they have the opportunity to gain quantitative skills and knowledge, and become part of the professional finance industry.
Although training and education at the GWI is designed to develop professionals in the asset management industry, young women may apply their knowledge to other professions. Even a would-be entrepreneur can use GWI training to ensure smart investments.
Who Runs Girls Who Invest?
So who started this non-profit organization? A top woman in finance.
Seema R. Hingorani is a managing director at Morgan Stanley. In 2015, Hingorani conceptualized Girls Who Invest with a vision for women to manage 30 percent of the world’s investable assets by 2030. Hingorani finished her BA in psychology and philosophy from Yale University and earned her MBA in finance from the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania). She was part of then Secretary Hilary Clinton’s 2016 National Committee on Finance from the presidential campaign.
Since entering the finance industry, Hingorani has received multiple recognitions, including Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance, Bloomberg 50 “Ones to Watch.” She was also given the insignia of Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by France in 2021.
In short, Hingorani’s a sharp one.
But GWI is not a one-woman show — no matter how accomplished Hingorani is, she still needs a lieutenant running the day-to-day operations. And that person is President and CEO Katherine Jollon Colsher, who used to be managing director at Goldman Sachs and accomplished finance professional, much like Hingorani.
With such executive leadership, expect the screening process for applicants to follow high standards.
Girls Who Invest Acceptance Rate
The GWI programs are highly competitive and sought-after, even by men wanting a buy-side experience and a good head start to a career in asset management. Those who get accepted for the Summer Intensive and Online programs expect plum internships at top-tier investment firms, like The Baupost Group, Vista Equity Partners and Charles Schwab Investment Management, among many other market-leading companies.
Girls Who Invest are highly selective in that you need to possess the fundamental abilities that develop effective investors in the making, from research and analytical skills and intellectual curiosity to responsiveness to receiving and applying feedback and ability to work in team-based environments, which is an essential soft skill in doing business. But the non-profit does not limit applicants to majoring in finance.
Sophomore students in any college or university across the US can send in an application. Much like any scholarship program, the GWI programs screen applicants thoroughly. If you get in, you don’t have to pay for tuition and the organization takes care of your room, board and meals for on-campus programs.
Getting More Women in Asset Management
Hingorani’s vision is to get more women placed in the finance industry, not just in asset management. And currently, 75 percent of the foundation’s scholars are working in finance.
The foundation shares it now has 100 partner asset management companies all over the world. A stark contrast to when GWI started; they had a hard time getting firms to sign up because not many had college internship programs. Eventually, Girls Who Invest started gaining attention; its extensive curriculum covering core concepts of finance and investment and in-depth training, including a series of speakers from men and women in the industry.
But the GWI is not just focused on increasing the presence of women in finance; the goal goes beyond gender diversity. According to the non-profit foundation, 20 percent of its scholars are Latina and Black; many are East Asian and South Asian.
Few women are in finance; fewer even hold senior positions, limiting the kind of mentorship necessary to encourage more women to enter and thrive in the industry.
If you look at the list of 50 most popular women, none have a background in finance. Although they’re all successful, the list is indicative of the lack of diversity in this challenging field. Girls Who Invest is working to change the status quo. And if it’s current success in increasing the number of women applying for its programs and the number of firms hiring their scholars, the foundation may be close to its goal.