New report reveals low levels of diversity in asset management industry, despite similar investment performance at women- and minority-owned firms

MIAMI – May 3, 2017 – A new study sheds light on the low level of diversity in the $71.4 trillion dollar asset management industry, with firms owned by women and minorities managing only 1.1 percent of the total assets under management.

The study is the most in-depth to date on ownership diversity within the asset management industry and finds firms owned by minorities and women account for a very small percentage. In addition, an initial analysis found no statistically significant difference in the performance of these diverse-owned asset management firms and their peers.

The study was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and led by Josh Lerner, chair of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit and the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, and the Bella Research Group.

Examining four segments of the industry – mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity funds and real estate funds – the study found that the number of women- and minority-owned firms ranged from 3 to 9 percent, and assets under management ranged from below 1 percent to 5 percent.

“This study, and our experience, confirm that there is no legitimate reason not to invest with diverse asset managers in the 21st century,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.

The study grew out of Knight’s efforts to diversify its endowment investments. Knight has moved $472 million of its endowment – or 22 percent – to management by women- and minority-owned firms in the past decade, with no compromise on performance.

“Diverse-owned firms are underutilized by institutional investors,” said Juan Martinez, Knight Foundation CFO. “We made a conscious decision to change our approach—and we urge our colleagues to do the same.”

The study noted that more complete data on diversity in the asset management industry would help effect change.

“In an industry that thrives on data, we need more and better information on diverse ownership,” said Lerner, managing partner and co-founder of Bella Research. “But the more we learn, the clearer it is that there are vast and hard-to-justify disparities in asset management.”

Read the full report here:

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit


Andrew Sherry, VP/Communications, Knight Foundation, [email protected], 305-908-2677