Recently, Middlesex Cricket visited the offices of our partners, Fulcrum Asset Management, to hear about who they are, the work they do, and about their commitment to women’s cricket and the game in our local communities.
We spoke to Fulcrum’s Chief People Officer, Tamsin Webster (TW), and their Executive Director, Manager Research & Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Mark Horne (MH).
Who are Fulcrum Asset Management?
MH: “Fulcrum is an independent investment manager based in Marble Arch, so not too far away from the cricket ground, and we are approaching our 20th anniversary.
“We primarily look after institutional clients and what we’re known for is discretionary macro portfolio management – in summary, trying to care of anything that can go up, down and around in the markets, whether that be interest rates, equity or market stocks and shares.”
Tell us about the partnership with Middlesex Cricket and why it appeals to you?
MH: “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is very important to us at Fulcrum Asset Management and the opportunity arose to help you with your DEI efforts as well by partnering on a programme which encourages female participation in what has been a male-dominated sport as well as community engagement too.”
MH: “This is an increasingly important time. Female momentum within sport is growing significantly thanks in no part to what’s happening on the football fields. The focus on DEI for all has never been greater.”
Can you explain the culture at Fulcrum and why that is so important?
Fulcrum Asset Management has five core values which are Sustainability, Innovation, Excellence, Collaboration, Integrity.
TW: “It was about creating a culture around our employees where they trusted us and we trusted them, really emphasising that you can bring your whole self to work.
“We’ve tried to influence that in so many ways. It’s the small things like lunchtime sports sessions; culture club; book club; or even our wine club some evenings.
“It’s about listening to people and finding out what makes them tick. We spend a lot of time in the office so trying to make it an enjoyable place to be, makes perfect sense.”
Do you think that offers a point of difference at Fulcrum?
TW: “Yes. Along with things like a hybrid working policy, many of our competitors insist that staff work four or five days a week in the office – and we have many of our own that do that – but it’s because they choose that environment as it’s right for them. We have other members of staff that maybe work three days in the office because they feel that mix works best for them. Some people have additional responsibilities at home, or they feel they work best when they have some deep thinking time.
“That’s treating people like adults. If you have rules, they might suit some and not others whereas we try to let people make decisions that suit them and we trust them to do so.”
There’s now a genuine pathway from the regional game up to international level within women’s cricket. This mirrors the pathway in your own industry in that you’re trying to create pathways for women to get into the financial business…
MH: “Our industry, like a lot of others has a shortage of women at senior level. It’s only through the nurturing and development of talent that we can redress that balance.”
You talked about your own DEI work. Why is that so important to you?
MH: “Quite often to get a job in finance, you had to come from a certain demographic with a certain level of qualification.
“What we really want to create – which is exactly what you’re doing too – is equity. In all honesty, I’ve only begun myself to understand what equity means versus equality. We are trying to create the best possible level playing field where everyone with talent has a chance to be heard.
“From there, you can choose the best equipped talent for a specific role or team, but that’s what it’s about – creating a platform for people to flourish.
TW: “Some good examples of where we have done that recently include: When we look around and say we don’t have enough female portfolio managers in the organisation, you straight away think ‘it must be recruitment!’, so we did take a look at things and our job descriptions were improved and how we sourced; we were much stricter with our recruitment partners in terms of giving us a much broader variety.
“Then we realised ‘well, we’ve just got the same problem, or you’re just looking with better glasses on’, but what we realised is that you’ve got to take bigger and make longer-term steps.
“This year, we’ve partnered with one of the local colleges and we’ve run a work experience week where we invited people who weren’t even thinking about a career in financial services, hopefully trying to convince them that it would be a good decision. Many were coming from backgrounds that wouldn’t even consider getting a job in our industry.”
MH: “Mentoring is a critical component. You identify talent, before working with them to nurture and develop throughout their careers. In that sense, there is a parallel between our two industries.”
Are you up against similar challenges a in the cricket world? Are there differences in pay structure between men and women in your industry?
MH: “Absolutely, and disclosure of that is becoming more of a requirement for firms. This is becoming more frequently seen for the more senior asset managers, although we’re a relatively small firm with around 100 employees. It is now mandatory for any company with over 200 employees to report their pay gaps.
“When we get queries in from prospective clients, a large part of it is around how we create an environment around fairness, so the attention is greater and greater.”
Discuss the community engagement plans…
MH: “One of the things that appealed to me when we first had conversations was the community cricket, where you were really going out into communities and giving them a chance to have a go at something they’d never done before.
“It’s motivating for all to be a part of that, and I think to have an opportunity to reach out beyond our daily habitat and make a difference is also very motivating.”
TW: “We’ve got a strong volunteering approach here at Fulcrum. We match employees’ donations through the year, and we also have a number of activities that we do as a collective. We choose a number of charities to donate to as well.
“For us, it’s about coming together with our partners and creating something with longevity – not just something that lasts one or two years – that brings it closer to home and makes it more purposeful. Therefore, I hope people get involved in a much greater way.”
Your partnership will also be providing bursary schemes for youngsters to get into the game at grassroots level. There are two fantastic national programmes in All Stars and Dynamos, that kids as young as five years old involved.
MH: “So I started working at 16 which was unusual in our industry even back then, but we’re now trying to do something similar by encouraging pre-university entrants with our own internship programmes.
“It’s an interesting development that we’ve been talking about with university costs and the debts that it leaves students with. There’s an increased interest in apprenticeship programmes and that sort of thing where you can build a career without necessarily going through a degree and that’s another parallel.”
TW: “Sport offers so many parallel learnings. Great sports teams and sportspeople have so much knowledge to share with businesses so it will be interesting.”
We thank Fulcrum Asset Management for their support and we look forward to working with them throughout this partnership.