Giselle Roux is no stranger to the big issues, be it markets or diversity

Independent consultant Giselle Roux has had an unusual path in the investment world and it's shaped her insights on markets.
Sara Allen

Livewire Markets

When you think of a starting point for a successful career in finance, geology might seem a bit left field. But that’s exactly how independent consultant Giselle Roux began her career. She moved to commodities demand, to equities research before ending up in asset allocation.

Her unusual path may have come with a range of hurdles but can easily be described as an interesting and successful journey. It has also offered her a more diverse lens in her views on the industry and markets.

“I have no regrets and a shout out to a wonderful set of colleagues in the journey that made (almost) every working day fun and interesting,” Roux says.

It’s fair to say both geology and finance are heavily male-dominated. Roux is not one to shy away from a challenge. While pushing the boundaries herself, Roux believes there are both real and perceived barriers for women entering these industries and climbing the ladder.

“There are many reasons. Lack of female role models where we observe women mostly in support functions rather than as decision makers, lack of manager support and belief, an atmosphere that can be aggressive and competitive at times, blame games on decisions that don’t go to plan, the lack of women’s voices in rooms, potentially long unfriendly working hours and travel requirements. The list goes on,” says Roux.

Some of these reasons are an external view of the industry rather than the reality, while others can be the status quo.

In this wire, Roux discusses changing the gender balance, her journey into asset allocation and where investors can find opportunities in the coming market.

Livewire is pleased to feature Giselle Roux as part of our International Women’s Day coverage profiling establishing and up-and-coming female investment leaders in Australia. We are dedicated to featuring more female chief investment officers, portfolio managers and analysts in our articles, podcasts and videos.

Giselle Roux, independent consultant

The portfolio manager in brief

  • Name: Giselle Roux
  • Title: Independent Consultant
  • Years in the industry: 35
  • Speciality: Initially equities, more recently all asset classes and asset allocation
  • Biggest personal portfolio holding: The best one – CSL (ASX: CSL), held since the day of listing
  • One thing very few people know: I talk too much for anything to come unexpectedly out of the woodwork
  • Guilty secret pleasure: I don’t watch TV but podcast as much as possible (and almost none on financial topics)
The view from Roux's property in Bellarine looking across at Mornington with Arthur's Seat on the horizon.

Changing the status quo in finance

The existence of International Women’s Day can be a reminder of both how far gender equity has come – but also how far it still needs to go.
“Data shows that less than 4% of CIO roles in Australia are held by women. This is under the 8% global average, hardly itself a great number. There are no women as Head of an Investment Banking operation* in this country. There are a few notable women are in the commercial banking sector, but still vastly under represented,” Roux says.

*The data I used came from a global survey where the specific question was Head of Investment Banking within firms such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. Therefore relating to capital markets divisions rather than being at a CEO level.

She doesn’t believe it’s a matter of roles not being suitable – or appealing – to women. Instead, Roux regards a lack of awareness and modelling as offputting for many entrants. She also notes that there are some areas where women would be particularly suited, such as roles that work in behavioural finance, financial advice, and investing that are focused on long horizons (given that women are typically more risk averse).

But what is the solution? It’s not an easy fix. Nothing worth doing ever is.

“There is no doubt the industry would be better if there were diverse voices in the room. What can be done? Role models where possible, expressing confidence in talented women, toning down the ambience of male-dominated interactions and for women to appreciate how rewarding and interesting the pathways in finance can be,” says Roux.

Moving through the industry

Roux has undoubtedly experienced some of the challenges of the finance world first-hand. She also points to some universal challenges faced by anyone regardless of gender, such as the eternal battle of working parents in juggling the work-life balance. Roux raised three children, so she’s far from a stranger to this issue.

The nature of the finance world also has its own unique battles.

“The challenges work-wise have mostly been about difficult periods in financial conditions and the uncertainty that ensues. The anxiety to get things ‘right’ is always present, especially when you consider the human being end investor, rather than just numbers,” Roux says.

The right colleagues clearly have a significant part in influencing these challenges and how they affect you – and mentors along the way.

“A few people may have single standout mentors. In the investment world, we are surrounded by many clever, interesting people. There is a lot to learn from almost all of them,” says Roux.

Facing the current environment in markets

Roux knows markets and she’s seen tough conditions before, so what does she think investors need to know now?

Perhaps the first thing to know is that we’re not likely to return to a pre-covid style environment. The interest rate environment was highly unusual and we should be thinking about higher rates as being a more normal state of being. Conditions are likely to be different for the next few years.

“Investment outcomes will be impacted by a longer-term higher cost of capital, possibly more variable economic growth and a host of geopolitical change, national interests and energy systems,” says Roux.

She believes markets are focusing too closely on the short term (like inflation data) and haven’t priced in structural changes.

“One of the key concerns for markets is the balance between labour and capital returns and the potential for many struggling companies to default on loans,” Roux says.

Beyond the market noise

That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities in the volatility.

Roux has a couple of tips for investors to consider.

“Companies with hard or costly to replace assets that will resonate into the coming decade make sense in the current world. Many such companies are in infrastructure and utilities,” she says.

She cautions that different fund managers have different criteria to assess what infrastructure is so are not always directly comparable.

Roux also suggests considering the major themes and needs of our world now and in the coming decades.

“Cybersecurity, energy transition, changes in healthcare for example. There are ETFs which can be suitable, though investors should recognise these are valuation agnostic. A blend of active managers that pursue these themes and passive funds may be a sensible approach,” she says.

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Sara Allen
Content Editor
Livewire Markets

Sara is a Content Editor at Livewire Markets. She is a passionate writer and reader with more than a decade of experience specific to finance and investments. Sara's background has included working at ETF Securities, BT Financial Group and...

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