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Thursday, January 26, 2017

WE Celebrates 3 Years and 2,500 Members

Reported by Katy Golvala

This week, WE celebrated its third anniversary with a breakfast and fireside chat at Inside ETFs.

Linda Zhang
Women in ETFs
250 attendees were expected, but over 270 people joined the breakfast before the organizers had to turn people away at the door.

WE started in January 2014 as a support group for women entering the ETF space, which was—and still is—uncharted territory, even for many industry vets. It was meant to give women a resource for questions about the unfamiliar products.

"Who do you turn to with questions without feeling stupid?" Deborah Fuhr, co-founder of WE and managing partner and co-founder at ETFGI, explains to MFWire.

However, the core mission of the group has shifted to include mentoring the next generation of ETF industry experts as well. WE hosts career mentorship workshops and informational sessions about the industry. The breakfast at Inside ETFs included a panel discussion on professional development.

Fuhr also mentioned a lunch meeting she had scheduled with a young woman just entering the industry who has job offers for sales and research roles from three different firms. She got in touch with Fuhr looking for advice on the first step in her career, showing the true mission of the WE network in action.

A few recent studies have delved into the gender disparity in asset management. Most indicate that the lack of women currently in the industry contributes to the lack of young women entering the industry. Through its mission of providing support for students at the beginning of their careeres, WE is tackling that problem head on.

In January 2017, WE hit 2,500 members, and the group isn't stopping there: it has big plans for International Women's Day, coming up on March 8. In partnership with the UN Global Compact, UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, IFC and the World of Federal Exchanges, WE will host "Ring the Bells for Gender Equality," ringing the opening bells at 40 exchanges around the world, up from 33 in 2016.

In addition to Fuhr, the other co-founders of WE include: Joanne Hill, head of institutional investment strategy at ProShares; Sue Thompson, managing director and head of institutional management/RIA at BlackRock; Michelle Mikso, director of independent and regional BDs at Invesco PowerShares; and Linda Zhang, senior PM and head of research at Windhaven Investment Management.  

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