Ex-SJP chair becomes sole female on Merian board

Asset manager’s website touts benefits of diversity

Merian Global Investors has named an “avid champion of the benefits of diversity” as the sole female on its board of directors.

Former St James’s Place chairwoman Sarah Bates has been appointed independent non-executive chair of the Old Mutual Global Investors spin-off. Mark Gregory has also been appointed as a non-executive director meaning men outnumber women on the board by a ratio of 7:1.

Merian said there is still one non-executive director role to be filled, which would take the board to nine members. Chief executive Richard Buxton, UK mid-cap fund manager Richard Watts and head of global equities Ian Heslop represent Merian on the board, while Christopher Parkin and Patrick Sader, represent TA Associates’ London office, alongside adviser to the private equity business Richard I Morris Jr.

Merian’s take on diversity and inclusion

At a launch heralding Merian’s rebrand, Buxton, who led the spin-out of the single strategy funds from the multi-asset business, touted the fact the executive committee consisted of four women and three men.

However, the six fund managers who led the buyout were all male. Those six men also form the quarterly investment committee and the distribution committee, according to the Merian website.

Merian champions the benefits of diversity on its new website stating it contributes to better decision-making, innovation and greater understanding of clients.

In the investment team, the website states diversity of views are important for creating an environment where staff can challenge both each other and receive wisdom. The company also stressed the importance of a multiplicity of backgrounds in other areas of the business, ranging from distribution to operations.

Sarah Bates a diversity champion

Bates has 38 years’ of financial services experience including 20 years sitting on boards of listed companies, investment trusts and pension funds.

This year she stepped down as chair of St James’s Place, a role she had held since 2014.

In a press release announcing her appointment, Merian described her as “an avid champion of the benefits of diversity within the investment management industry”. She is one of the founders of the Diversity Project, which aims to improve diversity across the investment and savings industry across gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, LGBTI+, age and disability.

She said she is joining Merian at a crucial stage in its journey. “The management team’s commitment to building a differentiated asset management business is unwavering and I look forward to working with them as we grow a market-leading organisation.”

She is currently chair of the Polar Capital Technology Trust, a director at the Worldwide Healthcare Trust, and a member of the investment committees of the BBC and Universities Superannuation Scheme pension funds. She was CEO of Invesco’s UK institutional business between 1999 and 2003.

Meanwhile, Gregory will become chair of the audit and risk committee. He worked at Legal & General from 1998 to 2017, and was group chief financial officer from 2013 to 2017.

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