Brought to you by CFA UK’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee, this spotlight series highlights role models in the sector to help show and encourage diversity in the industry.
The focus of this article is on Lindsey Stewart, CFA, Senior Investor Engagement Manager at KPMG.
Less than 1% of the investment management industry identify as Black, African or Caribbean. A key factor in encouraging young Black individuals to consider a career in investment management and financial services is having a clear role model.
What does inclusion and diversity mean to you?
It’s very important to me. There’s a lot of focus in the UK right now on ‘levelling up’ – allowing people to access opportunities and resources that have previously been closed off to them. That can’t be achieved unless our businesses and other organisations take the right approach to including people from more diverse backgrounds.
As it’s often said: talent is everywhere but opportunity is not.
What do you think would be the best way to build a more inclusive and diverse industry?
I think leaders and recruiters in many professions, including financial services, need to continue to re-think their definition of talent.
Talent is too often thought of in purely absolute terms – e.g. specific requirements for grades, educational institutions, and employment history – often because those things are much easier to filter for.
Those factors can be important, but relying solely on that kind of thinking is a sure way to miss out on a lot of talented people who simply never got their opportunity.
What does your day-to-day job involve?
I’m an investor engagement professional, but I work for a Big 4 audit practice, rather than a listed company like most people in similar roles.
Day to day, I hold conversations with institutional investors and analysts, as well as policy experts on capital markets. I help them to better understand the role of the auditor in corporate reporting and stewardship. I also seek to understand their perspective on how listed companies operate and exactly how they use the information in corporate reports, so I can help our auditors approach their work with a shareholder perspective.
How did you get to where you are now?
I started my investor relations (IR) career over 20 years ago in IR advisory, working through various research and analysis roles before becoming a client-facing consultant for listed companies in continental Europe.
In 2014 – after KPMG took over the firm I worked for – I took a role in technical communications, applying my IR knowledge to help author publications and digital content about the major new IFRS accounting standards with an investor perspective. It set me up well to take on my current role last year.
What advice would you give to young people considering roles in financial services?
Keep learning! Getting years of experience under your belt and obtaining advanced qualifications like the CFA Charter can be a huge advantage, but don’t ever fool yourself into thinking you’ve mastered your chosen field.
One of my favourite recent books is Range by David Epstein, which emphasises how one key to success is obtaining broad knowledge across a variety of disciplines rather than very deep knowledge of a narrow topic. A good example is how many of the recent advances in our understanding of financial markets has come from applying psychological and behavioural theories rather than purely quantitative methods.
Even if you become an expert, you still only know a relatively small area of your chosen discipline. Even then, there’s plenty that can be learned from broadening your knowledge of other topics.
Lindsey Stewart, CFA , Senior Investor Engagement Manager at KPMG.