Investment professionals concerned that sector is not doing enough to promote ethnic and cognitive diversity

Thursday 29 October 2020

  • CFA Society of the UK survey reveals that the top issues requiring progress are talent acquisition and retention, the pay gap, and representation at board and executive level
  • Only 35% are confident that their firm is doing enough to recruit from ethnically diverse backgrounds
  • Two thirds (66%) also feel there is not adequate emphasis on cognitive diversity in the profession
  • However, progress has been made in training since 2019 and more attention has been paid to ethnic diversity since the start of the Black Lives Matter protests

London, UK, 29 October 2020: CFA Society of the UK (CFA UK) has today released the findings of its annual Inclusion & Diversity Survey, measuring the views of members on inclusion and diversity in the UK investment profession. The survey has found that, while some progress has been made, there are still key areas that require the sector’s attention.

Investment professionals feel the issue that needs most progress is inclusive talent acquisition and retention, with 56% of respondents saying that this area of inclusion and diversity requires improvement. This is closely followed by the pay gap (53%), and then representation at board and executive level (52%).

Ethnic diversity was a particular area of concern, with only 35% saying they believe their firm is doing enough to recruit from diverse ethnic backgrounds (38% said their firm is not doing enough and the remaining 27% were unsure). Asked to identify the one area of inclusion and diversity where their firm needs to improve, more than a quarter of respondents (26%) again identified ethnicity. This proportion was significantly higher than those who identified areas such as gender diversity (16%), socio-economic diversity (12%), and LGBTQ+ diversity (4%).

Another point of concern was cognitive diversity, with two thirds of investment professionals (66%) saying they feel there is not enough focus on it at firms.

More positively, the majority of investment professionals are seeing efforts to improve inclusion and diversity in the sector. Sixty-three percent of respondents feel their firm adequately supports inclusion and diversity, and 51% feel there is enough opportunity at work to personally get involved in improving diversity. Almost half of respondents (49%) have also noticed an increased focus on ethnic diversity in their firm since the start of the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

However, there is still room for improvement in the sector when it comes to inclusion and diversity education and training. Only half of the respondents (51%) have undergone any form of inclusion and diversity training; likewise, only 50% have undergone training to tackle unconscious bias. While the proportion of respondents who have undergone inclusion and diversity training has jumped from 43% last year, there is still a clear need for further progress. Investment professionals are particularly keen to learn more about best practices across firms and industries.

Additionally, while most investment professionals feel their firms are trying to tackle inclusion and diversity issues, many are still unfamiliar with their firm’s initiatives (41%). Forty-four percent also feel they do not have enough opportunity at work to personally get involved in improving diversity in the investment profession.  

Says Olivia Maguire, CFA, newly appointed Chair of CFA UK’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee:

“Inclusion and diversity have firmly been at the top of firms’ agendas this year, so it’s disappointing to learn that almost half of the investment professionals surveyed still feel like they don’t have enough opportunity to personally get involved in improving diversity in the investment profession, at work.”

“Investment firms need to continue focusing on improving their policies, training and support for employees. CFA Society of the UK’s Inclusion and Diversity Network remains committed to working with firms to help them develop their strategies, training and share best practices.”

In addition to the work conducted by its local member society in the UK, CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, is continuing to champion inclusion and diversity by developing intensive diversity programs in collaboration with its stakeholders and investing in research into practical, workable diversity initiatives. It is also working on the development of an industry-wide Inclusion Code, which is aimed for launch in 2021.

Says Sarah Maynard, Global Head, External Inclusion & Diversity Strategies and Programs at CFA Institute:

“While more investment professionals have been receiving inclusion and diversity training, much more needs to be done to address issues such as the pay gap and talent retention.

“This year the coronavirus pandemic has transformed our perception of work, demonstrating an industry-wide capacity to uproot what we thought we knew about the workplace and ways of working. This is therefore a key moment to drive forwards with diversity initiatives, and make a concerted effort to level the playing field in the investment profession.”




Notes to editors:

For further information or to request an interview, please contact Ogilvy:

To find out more about the CFA Society of the UK Inclusion & Diversity Network, please click here. 

About the Survey


The survey opened on 7 September 2020 and closed on 5 October 2020. It was open to all CFA Society of the UK members and there was a total of 547 respondents.


About CFA UK

Part of the worldwide network of member societies of CFA Institute, CFA UK represents the interests of 12,000 investment professionals in the UK.