To recognise and celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, ETF.com Europe is publishing a series of interviews with prominent female members of the ETF industry.
Today we talk to Dr Evrin Erdem, an expert in quantitative investment, who has worked across various institutions like Fidelity, Nutmeg and is now at the helm of Copia Capital Management, an ETF and index tracker-focussed discretionary fund manager (DFM) at Novia Financial.
ETF.com: How did you get into investing?
Evrin Erdem: I have a mechanical engineer by training. After I received my PhD I worked in engineering for a few years. My first job in finance was as a quantitative analyst in a hedge fund. As I progressed in my career, my work evolved from pure quantitative research into a more business-facing role related to money management.
ETF.com: What does your role involve and what do you do day to day?
Erdem: I was hired to build up Copia Capital Management nearly two years ago. That included carrying out due diligence on the ETFs we invest in, development of the quantitative strategies, setting up software and data infrastructure, drafting the marketing materials and aiding the sales team.
Now that the system is in place, my role involves maintenance and researching the strategies, monitoring the ETF market, ongoing due diligence, contributing to marketing materials, meeting clients with the sales team and promoting our proposition through various channels.
Obviously, monitoring the investment performance and keeping up with the market developments are the daily aspects of my job.
ETF.com: What are the benefits of quantitative investing?
Erdem: Quantitative investing is a systematic, rules-based style of investing, governed by mathematical models. It takes human biases and emotions out of investment decisions. It is scalable and eliminates so-called “key man risk”, so it is lower cost.
In the U.S., two thirds of the aggregate assets managed by ETF strategists are run using quantitative strategies. I hope to see similar uptake of quantitative investing in the UK retail market soon.
ETF.com: What's it like being a woman in this industry?
Erdem: I have no complaints about being a woman in a male dominated industry. In general I appreciate different qualities in men and women and what they bring to the table. I like working with and being in the company of people that believe in the same things as I do and inspire me with their ideas – just like anybody else.
I must admit there are days when I do wish there were more women around in my work environment. There are not many women in this industry with a technical background doing a similar job to mine so when I meet a woman like that, I treat them like a long-lost friend!
ETF.com: How can women be empowered and inspired in this industry?
Erdem: I would love for more women to be in this industry; not only in marketing, PR and sales, but also in key decision-making and technical roles like money management and at executive level. That diversity would move the industry away from the traditional division of labour between the genders along with the associated stereotypes of men and women’s abilities, and move towards an equilibrium of genders in the workplace.
I believe in leading by example – by having integrity and taking responsibility to make things happen. It is through our self-belief and what we stand for that we gain respect, credibility and power to bring about change. Mentoring is a by-product of this – not only mentoring women, but also men. The more we give to others, the stronger we become.
Having said that, we must be careful to avoid the pitfall of insinuating that women are victims of circumstance, which is anything but empowering. And it sends a negative message to young women who are considering entering the industry.