CFA® charterholder Jenny Atout Ahlzén began her career in 2007 in asset management. Later, when given the opportunity to support startups and help shape Jordan’s alternative asset management industry, she joined one of the pioneering tech venture capital groups in the Middle East: Silicon Badia.
With the hope to build the next generation of asset managers in Jordan, Silicon Badia recently launched a new joint venture with Endeavor Jordan called BeyondCapital.
Through BeyondCapital, Jenny and the team are hoping to create one of the region’s first foundations for asset managers. BeyondCapital will provide a variety of services including helping finance entrepreneurs create new products to address early-stage funding gaps, building capability around fund management, and providing establishment support to first-time fund managers.
While this accomplishment is incredibly exciting in itself, what excites Ahlzén most is her work with female entrepreneurs and members of the investment management industry.
“To me, being a CFA® charterholder means a lifelong commitment to excellence,” said Jenny Atout Ahlzén.
Venture capital groups are scarce in the Middle East. Jordan, a country known for its talented, hard-working people with an entrepreneurial spirit, is also known for its prominent gender gap.
Jordan is located in what is considered to be the most gender unequal region in the world. On top of this, the country ranks 135 out of 144 countries in terms of gender disparity.* For a woman to have many years of venture capital experience in a male-dominated country is a true rarity.
“This industry is about identifying opportunities and estimating the risks associated with them,” said Ahlzén. “In order to assess risk in a more balanced way, you need both men and women working closely together.”*World Economic Forum: Global Gender Gap Report 2017
Ahlzén hosts workshops geared towards women in finance in an effort to cultivate the next generation of female asset managers in Jordan. She invites investment managers, entrepreneurs, bank managers, and others to “Afternoon Teas” at Silicon Badia’s offices in Amman. There, they discuss a variety of financial topics ranging from venture capital, entrepreneurial projects, and ways to empower women.
By demystifying the venture capital process, Ahlzén strives to build Afternoon Tea participants’ confidence and prepare the women she meets for a future as entrepreneurs or investment managers.
“After just a few sessions, we’ve received all sorts of positive feedback,” said Ahlzén. In fact, these Afternoon Teas have been so successful that men working in the investment management industry contact Beyond Capital about attending as well.
CFA® charterholders are trained to put investors’ interests first, no matter what.
In 2019, more than 39% of CFA Program candidates were women, and that number is expected to grow.
Sound investing requires diversification, both in portfolios and team construction. That’s why CFA Institute champions women through our Women in Investment Management Initiative, scholarships, and other programs.
There is no doubt that Ahlzén’s actions are leading the investment management profession down a more inclusive and diverse path.
“I hope to see a future that is tech-enabled, where investment professionals are agile and nimble in adopting the latest technologies in the quest for serving clients. I see an industry that is inclusive and allocates opportunities to the most qualified individual, irrespective of gender or race. An industry that values diversity,” said Ahlzén.
Ahlzén believes a female presence is essential to encourage a healthy future and growth for the investment management industry.
Jenny Atout Ahlzén, CFA
When it comes to actions that build a better world for investing, Ahlzén’s efforts are exemplary. When it comes to the future of the investment management industry, her efforts in mentoring female finance professionals will no doubt inspire other financial leaders to measure up.