Rupal Bhansali, the CIO of Chicago-based global equities firm Ariel Investments, has just published a book, ‘Non-Consensus Investing: Being Right When Everyone Else is Wrong’. Sadly, one of the wrong things we do is not having sufficient gender diversity at either board or senior management level. The book is edifying.
Rupal is a relatively frequent visitor to Australia, as Ariel has grown its Australian and New Zealand-sourced funds under management. The firm is very ESG conscious. And its returns mirror the big up-tick in ESG-related strategies. Ian Webber, the Australia country head, says that ESG issues in general, and gender diversity issues particularly, when addressed, can add significant value for investors.
Bhansali lives in New York and works mainly out of that office. But the Chicago connection is interesting from an ESG perspective. The CEO of the firm, Mellody Hobson is a prominent and important citizen of Chicago, which is a troubled city due to shooting violence and racial issues. Her husband is the famous film producer George Lucas (think Star Wars), who, coincidentally, has had a long association with Australia. The couple can usually get the best seats in the house.
Rupal’s book, her first, is a partly personal one. She described how she became fascinated by equity markets in her youth, and how that became her profession. “In investing, conventional wisdom dictates that you can have either high returns or low risk but not both. You can have either capital appreciation or capital preservation but not both. I disagree. I custom- designed non-consensus investing to target both. I use the same unconventional thinking and counterintuitive concepts that have resulted in ground-breaking discoveries and outsised success in science, society, sports, and Silicon Valley,” she says.
Her last chapter of the book is particularly pertinent. Rupal says: “As a woman who has succeeded in a male-dominated profession, I wrote this special chapter [the last chapter in her book] to encourage young women to consider finance as a career and share some insights on how to break through the glass ceiling. If you are or know a parent with a young daughter or are a female in the workforce looking for advice on how to rise through the ranks of your organization, this chapter is a must read.”
‘Non-Consensus Investing: Being Right When Everyone Else Is Wrong’, by Rupal Bhansali, is published by Columbia University Press.