February 22nd, 2011 | 6:00 am

Building a Better Wall Street: Training Female Traders

filed under Featured, Industry Leaders

iStock_000010363335XSmallBy Stephanie Wilcox (Middlefield, CT)

Why is there such a paucity of female traders on Wall Street? Why are they difficult to find? Why don’t they apply for hedge fund jobs? Renée Haugerud, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Principal of Galtere Ltd., asked these questions when she discovered the difficulties of hiring female traders.

Though the hedge fund industry is a $2.5 trillion industry, a mere three percent of the assets are managed by women, according to Lauren Templeton, hedge fund manager and founder and principal of Lauren Templeton Capital Management and Maximum Pessimism, LLC. Wall Street is predominantly led by men, but what would happen if there was a better balance of men and women on Wall Street?

Haugerud thinks it would make a better Wall Street. “We need more balanced and more diversified trading desks,” she said. “Only a diversified portfolio management team will produce truly diversified portfolios. When I try to hire women I have a difficult time finding them. I have to actively search. A trading desk should represent all nationalities, ethnicities and maintain a gender balance as well.”

That’s why Haugerud, founder and chief investment officer of the commodities-focused asset management firm Galtere Ltd. donated $1.5 million to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) to establish a new program with an initiative on trading from a female perspective. The program, Finance for the Future, focuses on female investment bankers and exposes all attendees to what Haugerud refers to as the female/right side of the brain of the trading business.

Female Trading School

“I call it the female trading school,” said Haugerud. “It’s going to be a place where both women and men can go to learn about financial fundamentals and tools from a global macro perspective, rather than the equity-centric emphasis that most other university programs are based on.”

“Generally, men are quick to react to short term market information while women tend to look at long term decisions and have a well thought-out strategy; I want the best of both,” she added.

Templeton, who serves as director of the program, pointed out that most schools have a 50/50 balance between men and women; women go into accounting and marketing while men go into finance. Finance for the Future will deliver academic and practical experience in the study of trading and portfolio management and will have an approach on gender issues in the context of behavioral finance and neuroeconomics.

Though everything will be female-centric, the hope is to attract a diverse group of students to the program as “there is much to be learned from both genders,” said Haugerud. “We need to use both sides of the brain in trading and encourage women to use their strengths, while also giving exposure to all students of the many different ways each gender analyzes markets and structures portfolios. Our goal is to combine all the best characteristics of science and art, female and male analytical behaviors in the context of a global macro world, i.e. all asset classes and geographies and their interrelationships, the best of the best.”

The program, which became active this semester, will have internships, speaker series, seminars, workshops, a high tech training room and a symposium next fall hosted by the school of behavioral finance and gender.

“We will be bringing the world’s brightest in finance, as well as practitioners, to find out if women make better traders,” said Templeton.

A Viable Industry

As a hedge fund manager with a child, Templeton believes she is the perfect person to talk about being a woman in finance. “I wish more women would join me,” she stated. “It’s one of the higher paid industries in the world, and there are lots of jobs in finance that allow for a great deal of flexibility over time. A lot of women probably rule it out immediately, but women in finance is a hot topic right now.”

According to Templeton, it’s important to show women that finance is a viable industry to get involved with. “We’re here to encourage women to join the program and to look at some of the gender difference in finance,” she said. “My understanding is Renée’s number one goal is to produce more female hedge fund managers, portfolio managers and traders. She wants to get more women on Wall Street; there are not many of us out there.”

Templeton was on the UTC’s finance advisory board when Haugerud and her husband, who is an alum of UTC, made the generous gift to the school.

“The concept (for the program) has been in my mind for years and years and years,” said Haugerud, “so when the donation was made the concept was created and put into action.”

Haugerud said there is absolutely no other program like Finance for the Future out there. She stated, “I find UTC to be extremely innovative to embrace this project. They are very forward thinking and innovative; and I’m very excited about the program and really value and appreciate Lauren’s (Templeton) insights and commitment to heading up the program.”

Haugerud said the program is starting out small as a certificate program, but she envisions it growing exponentially. “I believe that major investment banks will actively recruit from UTC’s Finance for the Future Initiative for their training programs and internships,” she suggested. “It could turn into a full four year program; an associate degree; a master’s program – it is wide open. My desired outcome is to be able to recruit both female and male finance graduates who are well versed in both the science and art of trading from a global macro perspective, so I guess you could say this is all partly selfish.”

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