FINBOURNE Interviews Arun Kelshiker, Vice Chair – CFA UK’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee

Culture and Diversity

FINBOURNE Interviews Arun Kelshiker, Vice Chair – CFA UK’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee

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DEI is simply the right thing to do  

In the latest of our Culture and Diversity interviews, we speak to Arun Kelshiker, Vice Chair – CFA UK’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, where he has volunteered over the past fifteen years in both board and leadership roles. With a career spanning over 20 years in investment management, including sustainable investing, Arun is an active champion of DEI initiatives and campaigns, including those of The Diversity Project, City Hive and Reboot. 

In this interview he candidly discusses the disparity in minority representation within the Financial Services industry and the impact this has on future talent. Arun also explores the real business benefits of embracing cognitively diverse teams and how this closely correlates to fiduciary duty.  

Read the interview to learn more on the above and why allyship, measurement and establishing diverse talent pools are critical to the success of DEI strategies.   

Please tell us a little about your organisation, including its purpose, and the journey you are on (including any critical moments of change, milestones or achievements).  

CFA UK is a professional membership body representing 12,000 investment professionals in the UK – dedicated to educating, inspiring and connecting the investment community to build a sustainable future. The mission of CFA UK’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Network and Committee (DEI) is to improve the investment management profession by promoting inclusion, diversity and equity balance within the industry, to serve the best interests of our society. The Committee originally started out with a focus on gender, but has since broadened its scope to drive efforts along other DEI dimensions, including race and ethnicity, socio-economic mobility, neurodiversity and other characteristics. 

How did you become part of the DEI project?  

Alongside my professional roles, I’ve been an enthusiastic volunteer with a number of non-profit organisations and have been volunteering with CFA over the past fifteen years in different countries and in various roles, including driving DEI conversations within our financial services industry.  

In my mind, it’s simply the right thing to do – we want to work towards a society where everyone can feel respected, valued, safe and empowered to achieve their full potential without being disadvantaged by their gender, ethnicity, background or characteristics. A large body of research including McKinsey’s’ Diversity Wins (2020) concludes that cognitively diverse teams can lead to better business outcomes and within financial services it’s all the more crucial, given the principal fiduciary role that asset owners and investment managers play in society. 

What DEI change are you looking to see in the future of the Financial Services industry and why? 

We are starting from an extremely low representative base within the sector. CFA Institute cites that of the US$69 trillion of assets managed in the US, only 1.3% are managed by organisations led by women or people of colour. In the UK, there were believed to be only 13 black fund managers across the entire investment management industry in 2020.  

This gives rise to a lack of diverse and visible role models; it becomes so much easier for talented and aspiring individuals to achieve their potential if they can see people they relate to, who have made it. Lack of data and metrics is a huge challenge with respect to implementing effective DEI strategies and basically within financial services, what gets measured, gets managed.  

All of the issues I’ve mentioned are compounded by a DEI allyship shortfall; this clearly needs to change. Reboot’s Race to Equality survey shares that 22% of white peers feel uncomfortable talking about race in the workplace.  If we can’t even have the conversations, how can we action solutions which would benefit everyone?

How do you plan to measure these goals? What does success look like to you? 

We are seeing a number of frameworks that help to monitor, measure and track the progress of DEI within investment companies. One widely used framework is the ACT standard of corporate culture developed by City Hive, which aims to give both clients and investment companies insights into an organisation’s inclusive, diverse and equitable aspects.  

When looking at successful outcomes, we have to be cognisant that diversity, equity and inclusion covers a broad range of highly relevant issues. Most efforts to date have focused on gender and we need to broaden the scope to drive efforts along other DEI dimensions including race and ethnicity, socio-economic mobility and other characteristics.  

We need to effectively use DEI strategies to grow cognitively diverse talent pools, which can support the hiring, promotion and retention of diverse talent. Workplaces need to grow in both their intention, as well as their awareness and skills-building on DEI issues, so as to provide an environment that actively supports diversity, equity and inclusion. 

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