By any measure, portfolio manager Susan Hirsch, who runs the $3.6 billion TIAA-CREF Large-Cap Growth fund, is a star.
Under her leadership, her fund has beaten the S&P 500 for the past three, five and 10 years, no easy feat.
On top of that, she’s clearly a trailblazer in a male-dominated field. Less than 10% of fund managers are women; only 2% of mutual funds are managed by a solo female manager.
It’s not because they’re not as good. Morningstar says the average female manager produced returns in line with the average male, and arguably ahead of them once fees are taken into account.
The financial “feminine famine”
Hirsch was just profiled in The Wall Street Journal as a pioneering female money manager, starting as a secretary and working her way up to stock analyst and then portfolio manager.
Women are still in short supply in financial professions.
The CFP Board, a Washington D.C. organization overseeing Certified Financial Planners™, calls this all part of the financial “feminine famine.”
Looking for innovative growth
I had the opportunity to hear Susan talk about her favorite stocks, sectors, and market outlook at the May Investing in Women conference in Dallas.
Hirsch has her eye out for innovative companies that can deliver solid long-term growth, especially those in technology and cutting-edge health care.
“We are living in a world of moderate growth, and companies that can grow revenue and earnings at a 15% to 20% clip will be sought after on a long term basis,” she said in a recent interview with TheStreet.
Why women excel at money management
Susan also explained why she thinks women are better money managers than men.
Women are methodical researchers, she says, and have a better temperament for portfolio management because they realize they may be missing something and don’t always think they’re right. When they make investment mistakes, she says, they tend to be “just a bit wrong.”
In contrast, she says, men tend to be more frequently convinced they’re very right, so when they make a portfolio mistake, it can be a big one because they are “very, very wrong.” That can do serious damage to an investment portfolio.