How Are Women Redefining Performance?

Research has highlighted the positive influence of women’s perspectives on societal change, but what does this mean for the financial industry? Cathy Stahl, Managing Director at PIMCO, and John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, discuss both how women are influencing the industry and their expectations for investment management. Access PIMCO’s research on Women Investors

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Sapna Shah, Head of Corporate Responsibility: Hello. I'm Sapna Shah and I'm joined by Cathy Stahl, managing director of PIMCO, and John Gerzema, the CEO of the Harris Poll, to discuss PIMCO's women and investing platform. As part of our broader commitment to diversity, we seek to accomplish our broader gender equality objectives through our women and investing platform. This platform has three pillars.

Text on screen: Image titled Women & Investing shows how PIMCO is advocating for women across three areas - designed up boxes -- Women as Investors, Investing in Women and Women as Investors.         

One is women in investing, which entails develop -- doing our part to develop the pipeline of talent within investment and leadership roles within our firm and the asset management industry.

Second is investing in women, which involves thinking about gender equality on a global scale, and matching the time, talent, and resources of PIMCO colleagues with external organizations that have mutual goals. Finally the third pillar is women as investors, which acknowledges the increasing influence of women's control over the management of personal wealth and seeks to understand how we can best address their evolving needs.

On this last point we've partnered with John and the Harris Poll to conduct proprietary research on trends and opportunities as they relate to women as investors. So my first question is for you, John. In the context of the research you've done over many years, you evaluated how societal change can impact many industries. Amongst the most interesting work is related to the impact of female ascendance on innovation, leadership, and policy. Can you tell us a little bit more about that research?

John Gerzema, CEO The Harris Poll: Sure, Sapna. I'm really excited to share it because what we've seen over the last several years has been the rise of feminine values in leadership and innovation in business.

And we got there through a lot of the research that I did with my co-author, Michael D'Antonio, where we looked at a very large set of data, over 64,000 people.

A photograph of a book, The Athena Doctrine, How Women and the Men Who Think Like Them Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio

Some of the interesting highlights that came out of it included the fact that two thirds of people around the world thought the world would be a better place if men thought more like women.

And we were curious about that, so we went deeper into the research and found out through modeling the data that many of the traits that both men and women associated with belonging more to women were things like empathy, selflessness, patience, collaboration. And these were things that were really seen as not just feminine, but actually ideal catalysts for the modern economy.

Sapna: So Cathy, as a managing director at PIMCO, you're one of the women for whom John's research is applicable. You've been in the asset management industry for more than two decades. What shifts in the industry have you seen in that time? And what does that mean in terms of what our research says for the expectations that women have for investment management?

Cathy Stahl, Global Head of Marketing: Sure. I did start in the industry in the mid-'90s. And I was lucky enough to start by working on a program that sought to understand women's attitudes and behaviors toward investing. We were very much geared toward getting women's attention. We were using demographic factors to compel them to pay more attention to investing, to like investing, to engage when it came to planning for their long term financial security.

A lot of it was driven by demographic factors such as a longer lifespan than their male counterparts, being in and out of the workforce and the impact that would have on earnings, you know, over a lifetime. So a little bit of a fear factor was associated with it. Fast forward two decades, I do think that the industry has come a long way. But as the PIMCO research reveals, we still have work to do.

Text on screen: Women on the Financial Industry - More than half of the women surveyed said the financial services industry doesn't reflect their lifestyles or realities

More than half of the women surveyed said that they don't feel the financial industry is geared toward meeting their lifestyle or their realities. That means there's a disconnect between this group that's ready to be served and our industry. And I think it's really important, and certainly the industry is paying more attention, it should pay more attention, because John talked about the currency.

Well women control more than half of the wealth of the United States and 30 percent of global wealth.

Text on screen: The Opportunity: Women want to control the money - In 2015, for the first time in U.S. history, women edged out men for control of personal wealth. They now hold 51%, or $14 trillion, of the nation's personal wealth - a number that's expected to rise to $22 trillion by 2020

So you have a really engaged empowered cohort that has a perception of the industry that its needs are not being met. That's a great opportunity for PIMCO and other investment managers to flex, to meet women where they are, who are ready to be investors, who are investors, and who wanna be more successful investors.

Sapna: So with that, John, maybe I can ask you to focus on what individuals can do to be agents of change in the context of meeting client needs which are of utmost importance to the industry.

John: Yeah, I mean Cathy was so fascinating, talking about getting past that fear factor, right. 'Cause we saw in our new research, the fact that women have actually moved past a lot of that.

Text on screen: The Opportunity: Women want to control more of the money

  • 60% want to be rich and are not apologizing for it
  • 34% expect their take home income to increase 40% over the next five years (millennial women)

They're very aspirational. 60 percent of them want to be rich and they're not apologetic about it. And that gets amplified when you look at millennial women in our data again, one third of whom had expectations that their income would grow by 40 percent over the next five years.

But with that comes sort of a different way of talking about wealth. And I think our data shows us that from the PIMCO study that wealth is a multidimensional term. It's not just paper and assets and investments. It's actually today's happiness, it's relationships, it's accomplishment, it's goals and aspirations, it's health and wellness. That was an overriding dominant theme in our data.

Cathy: Absolutely. I think some of the difference is rooted in how women define performance.

Things that matter to women help me generate income. Things that matter to women help me generate the income that I need to live the life that I wanna live. Help me have the flexibility with my money to meet both short and long term goals. For an industry that's so focused on retirement, that's a change.

Access PIMCO's research report, Women, Investing and the Pursuit of Wealth-Life Balance at

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