Financial Times Op-ed: Kresge's Chief Investment Officer Rob Manilla on how initiatives like the Student-Managed Investment Fund encourages diversity

From as long ago as 1987, financial industry commentators have forecast a “tip of the iceberg” moment for investment firms owned by women and people of color. Three decades later and 98 percent of the $69tn sector is still under the control of white men. Signs of real change are few and far between. Our industry purports to be a meritocracy: companies that produce strong returns should attract additional capital. When it comes to diversity of executives, however, that façade crumbles. A new vision is needed, which is why this spring the Kresge Foundation launched 25 percent by ’25, a pledge to place a quarter of our $2bn US endowment assets in companies with diverse ownership by 2025. That said, 25 percent by ’25 can only do so much without going to the root of the problem. To address this, the foundation is helping build a recruitment pipeline, funneling talented interns into an industry where access has been limited. We must also support financial literacy and career preparation where they matter most. Kresge has created two student-managed portfolios at universities in metropolitan Detroit, each with a $2m budget, with funds sourced from our $3.6bn endowment. We will couple classroom opportunity with real-world investment experience, exposing undergraduates to potential careers at dozens of corporate, philanthropic and public institutions.

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