Over the past few years, we have seen companies put greater focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. It makes business sense: organisations that focus on D&I are 1.6x more likely to understand its customers, have higher profitability and are 21% more likely to outperform less diverse peers [1][2].

To help our businesses achieve this, we often talk about employer branding, revisiting internal recruitment processes and encouraging people to bring diverse perspectives to the table. Yet, how does the investment industry communicate D&I initiatives externally? Are we truly diverse and inclusive in our marketing? More importantly, are we reaching all groups in our society, beyond existing clients and identified prospects?

As part of our efforts in helping marketers use their voice to become more influential and strategic in the industry, we brought together marketing heads from global asset managers who wanted to add their voice to society-led research initiatives. Through this, we aim to offer valuable insight on challenging and shared issues.

We believe it is our responsibility to find and present a tangible way for using our voice and acting together to combat institutional racism.

With growing awareness of the issue, our first research project shines a light on the ethnicity pension gap and is led by City Hive. This work gives us the opportunity to take collective action against financial inequality.

Shining a light on the ethnicity pension gap

To understand the barriers and actions needed to close the ethnicity pension gap, City Hive interviewed a diverse group of 160 financial market participants through in-depth interviews and surveys. This allowed us to learn more about respondents’ investment knowledge and behaviour towards financial planning, as well as the role that motivation, lifestyle and culture play.

Ethnicity and gender pension gaps have been identified in earlier research. Socio-economic factors such as pay gaps contribute to the pension gap. This is compounded by the fact that ethnic minorities and women are less likely to hold the positions with the highest structured pension schemes. It tends to result in smaller contributions over a lifetime of lower paid or part-time work and a smaller pension pot.

24.4% or £3,350 a year – The difference in pension income for pensioners in the UK who belong to an ethnic minority group, compared to pensioners of a white ethnicity (2017-18, according to the People’s Pension).

This is partly addressed by action on the pay gap and the introduction of the government’s auto-enrolment scheme. However, it is not the full picture. Our research shows that for various reasons – such as exclusion or lack of engagement – wealth, assets and savings occur outside of mainstream financial products and providers.

What leads to this gap?

Our research defines the issues faced by different ethnic minority groups and the barriers to take action. Here are a few of the key challenges.

A selection of cultural factors:

  • Investment is often presented and interpreted as something elite, rather than through a lens of relatable financial security
  • Advertising rarely reflects the diversity of our society and people do not always engage with it; while there is an awareness, it does not always resonate or stick
  • There is strong demand across the board for more relatable role models that can demonstrate positive financial behaviours with realistic trajectories

A selection of financial literacy and behavioural elements:

  • Gaps in financial education are evident from a young age and young people only stumble across finance and investment by accident
  • Day-to-day spending takes precedence over future financial planning
  • Struggle to transition beyond a savings habit to cultivate investment practice, which is not simply due to lack of funds as the investment world can appear intimidating

A selection of attitudes towards financial security:

  • There is a disconnect between taking action and understanding the need to take action; people think they still have time to act. Administrative barriers of information that apply to them personally prevent taking action
  • People view retirement as a time for leisure, hobbies and supporting younger family, but they don’t know how much money they will be retiring on
  • Black respondents appeared to be most engaged and proactive about their financial futures; Asians the least

With this research we hope to raise awareness and provide solutions for investment firms to close the ethnicity pension gap. Ultimately, by addressing diversity and inclusion, we are ensuring equal opportunities for everyone and making voices heard. Let’s collectively try to increase participation from women and ethnic minority groups who are in a position to save and invest, as well as take the opportunity to create a new class of investors.

White Marble is committed to this purpose and has taken the first step together with a number of global asset managers. Our upcoming research will continue to focus on access to finance and capital for different sections of society, alongside the role that investors play in perpetuating or ameliorating that access.

Our vision is to engage investment firms and related stakeholders in a meaningful and purposeful debate around specific issues that impact our industry. We aim to release regular proprietary research on these topics. Through this, we can develop effective metrics that will help investment firms drive improvements, focus on what matters and ultimately create measurable change. Would you like to find out more about this research and see how you can help/contribute towards an inclusive and sustainable future? Get in touch via [email protected]


  1. Dixon-Fyle, S., Dolan, K., Hunt, V. and Prince, S., 2020. Diversity wins: How inclusion matters. [online] McKinsey & Company. Available at: <https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters
  2. Capgemini.com, 2021. Be Challenged. [online] Available at: <https://www.capgemini.com/nl-nl/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/sites/7/2021/06/Be-Challenged-brochure_V6.pdf>