WOTSWomen of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too)

By Meredith A. Jones

Palgrave MacMillan, hard back US$30

I admit that I was skeptical when I received my copy of Meredith Jones, “Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too).” I’ll carbon date myself and admit that I’m old enough to remember when women’s business clothes were knock-offs of men’s suits and the blouses had big droopy bows that were supposed to be the feminine equivalent of the men’s power ties. I feared yet another collection of women’s war stories and I have my own version of Wall Street PTSD. Enough is enough. It’s time to move on. Jones' book is all about moving on and how to do it.

Disruption & Diversity

Jones’ book is disruptive and a little disruption is good for the soul. She uses a combination of her own diversity research over the years, some of which we’ve written about here at AllAboutAlpha.com, and interviews with top female money managers to determine what their edge is and how they get it. The end result is a book well worth the read.

Diversity is at the core of Jones’ argument for why everyone should be invested in women portfolio managers and why we should be encouraging more young women to become portfolio managers.

Diversification is a classic risk management tool. It is what protects you when the markets run amok and all correlations go to “Oh expletive deleted!” But what, argues Jones, happens if you look at diversification at the level of the portfolio manager. By adding women managers to the mix, you bring a different perspective to the table, which means a different way of trading and with that a new and different level of risk management.

Jones’ also points out that women are not strangers to managing money. She writes, “According to a Family Wealth Advisors Council study, 95% of women will be the primary decision-maker for their families at some point in their lives, and women currently control 51.3% of personal wealth.” Clearly it’s not a case of women not being accustomed to dealing with money.

“Anything you can do, I can do better…”

What I appreciated most about this book is that it isn’t and Annie Oakley-style competition about women being better than men. It’s about thinking differently. Jones goes beyond standard diversity research and tells the story in a series of compelling interviews with women who are managing portfolios.

Jones talks public equities investing with Leah Zell, Founder and Principal, Lizard Investors; Thrya Zerhusen, Founder, Fairpointe Capital; Fran Tuite, Portfolio Manager, RMB Capital Management LLC and Dr. Farriba Fischel Ghodsian, CIO, DAFNA Capital Management LLC.

Giving credit its due, she speaks with Marjorie Hogan, Portfolio Manager and Managing Member, Altum Capital and Olga Chernova, Sancus Capital Management.

In the private markets, including private equity, venture capital and real estate, Jones taps into the minds of Theresia Gouw, Co-founder, Aspect Ventures; Sonya Brown, General Partner, Norwest Venture Partners; Raquel Palmer, Partner, KPS Capital Partners LP; and, Deborah Harmon, Co-founder and CEO, Artemis Real Estate Partners.

She concludes her interviews with two women who have had both big bank and entrepreneurial experience in the world of funds of funds, Kelly Chesney and Connie Teska, Founders of Pluscios Capital Management.

Jones rounds out the book with a chapter called “Lessons from the Broad Market.” The takeaway? Learn to invest like a girl!