Barclays offers ETN wagering on corporates with female leaders

Jumping on trend, UK bank follows on the heels of Sallie Krawcheck's new fund launched last month

Jul 10, 2014 @ 11:38 am

Barclays Plc (BARC), the U.K.'s second-largest bank by assets, is selling an exchange-traded note tied to public companies with female executives, betting on demand for products that promote women in leadership.

The ETN tracks an index created by the London-based bank that follows the performance of U.S. firms with a female chief executive officer or a board of directors that's at least 25% women, said Sue Meirs, Barclays' chief operating officer for equity and funds structured-market sales. The Women in Leadership ETN began trading Thursday.

Barclays joins a series of money managers creating similar products as attention grows on the lack of corporate diversity and the benefits of females in management. Women make up 4.8% of chief executive officers and 16.9% of board seats in Fortune 500 companies, according to New York-based Catalyst Inc.

“There's this large and growing pool of investors that have socially responsible mandates,” Ms. Meirs said. “We're moving into this exchange-traded way of investing in diversity.”

(Related: Morgan Stanley CFO calls too few women leading U.S. companies an 'embarrassment')

Sallie Krawcheck, principal at Ellevate Asset Management, teamed up last month with Pax World Management on an index fund focused on firms that advance women. The product is the successor to the Pax World Global Women's Equality Fund (PXWEX) which gained 24% in the past year through July 7, trailing 56% of peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

GENDER CRITERIA

Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley (MS) have set gender criteria such as the number of women on corporate boards for some of the investments they offered to wealth-management clients in the past year.

The Barclays index includes 83 U.S.-based companies that are listed on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange and have at least $250 million in market capitalization, said Ms. Meirs, who is based in New York. Thirty-five have female CEOs including Ginni Rometty at International Business Machines Corp. and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! Inc.

ETNs are contracts between investors and banks that are less regulated than mutual funds. They are backed only by their issuer's credit, unlike exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, which hold assets.

(Bloomberg News)

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