It is amazing how many book recommendations you pick up doing this feature, writes Eleanor Mahmoud. A Good Time to be a Girl by Helena Morrissey is the latest one, kindly recommended by Rosanna Arikoglu, investment manager at Smith & Williamson, when we met for lunch.
The recommendation follows a good natter about the recent gender pay gap news. Pay debates aside, Arikoglu has had her fair share of experience in the industry already. She has spent just under five years at Smith & Williamson, first joining their graduate scheme, after a year on HSBC’s global markets graduate scheme. She has also completed a number of internships, both in the UK and abroad.
‘I’m on a big drive to increase the number of women in the industry,’ she says. ‘I think there is still such a stigma against the word “finance” so we need to make sure people understand what it really means.’
Today we are dining at The Garrison, a lovely light and airy spot right in the heart of London Bridge. The sun is out so naturally our drinks order consists of gin and aperol.
‘To break down the stigma, the industry needs to go in early at school level. Firms need to get out more to see younger people,’ she continues.
Arikoglu is enthusiastic about this and she’s not all talk: ‘I’ve been to a few university careers fairs to represent Smith & Williamson. Some people see the words “finance”, “investment”, “accountancy” and it puts them off, making it important to tell them about the varied and interesting industry that I work in.
‘Another problem we see is the image of the industry that is portrayed by films such as Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short – it doesn’t help how people see us!’
She was certainly not swayed by the image put out by Hollywood blockbusters, however. After studying ancient history at university, Arikoglu took a swift turn to investment management having completed and enjoyed her work experience at Smith & Williamson. Upon graduating, she completed her Investment Management Certificate to develop a better understanding of the industry.
As we tuck into our delicious mains of lamb loin chops and chickpea curry, Arikoglu gives me a glimpse into the varied life of an investment manager at Smith & Williamson.
‘Every investment manager gets assigned an equity and collectives sector to research and analyse. It’s a great opportunity for us to develop our knowledge. My sectors are European funds and consumer staple stocks.’
She explains that the investment managers present their research and recommendations quarterly to the wider team.
We met just a few days after the news of the Sainsbury’s and Asda merger; however, I am keen to hear what changes Smith & Williamson may be anticipating on the European side: ‘We have been adding more value biased funds into our European coverage. There has been a great quality growth market for the last nine years; but with synchronised global growth and normalisation of monetary policies, we want to be prepared in case we see a value rally.’
It is pretty obvious that she, along with her colleagues, are entrusted with a sizeable amount of responsibility within their respective sectors, so much so that she tells me: ‘In the last few months I’ve joined the collectives board. I’m the youngest member and it’s great exposure for me.’
Arikoglu is testament that it certainly is a good time to be a girl!
Glass half empty:
‘Continued volatility – it’s an uneasy ride for clients.’
Glass half full:
‘Global equities – the backdrop is positive and earnings are coming through.’