As the saying goes, “There are those who do, and those who watch.”
Eve Ellis is a doer, as she’s shown time and again throughout her life. Her most recent successes include her work on The Matterhorn Group at Morgan Stanley’s Gender Parity Portfolio and other Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, underscoring why she was nominated to receive the 2018 “Betty Cook Award” by the Women’s Bond Club at their 25th Merit Award Dinner sponsored by JP Morgan Chase.
The Betty Cook Award is given to an individual who epitomizes the advancement of women across the global community. It was created in honor of Elizabeth “Betty” Ellsworth Cook, a 1908-Cornell graduate and 20th-century pioneer who started the Women’s Bond Club nearly 100 years ago (in 1920), giving women on Wall Street a way to connect, share, mentor, learn and – bond.
Betty was not afraid to stand up for what was important to her: peace, equality for women, the ability for women to vote and the option for women to choose a career. Similarly, Eve hasn’t shied from blazing new trails with her work at Morgan Stanley and on the many charitable organizations with which she’s engaged.
A graduate of Yale University and former professional tennis player and coach, Eve is accustomed to pushing the envelope and charting new courses. When her long-held belief that there’s a strong correlation between diverse public companies and financial strength was substantiated (through third-party research and insight garnered from the Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index), Eve saw an opportunity to create a way for investors to have a voice in the gender equality movement
“My goal is for women to be in positions of power in the corporate arena,” said Ellis. “I won’t be satisfied until we achieve 50/50 parity and representation on Boards and senior management, and to generate Alpha for investors by focusing on such companies.”
The Gender Parity Portfolio, conceived by Eve, is an investment vehicle that focuses only on companies that demonstrate a specified level of gender diversity. Each organization must have at least three women on its Board, as well as financial performance related to free cash flow, profitability, valuations and risk measures; qualitative components including the gender quota and a footprint in emerging markets in terms of job creation; and, a risk-focused-portfolio-construction process such that it isn’t overexposed in any sector and is well diversified.
There are between 25 – 35 companies in the Gender Parity Portfolio today, many of which are household names. Ellis wasn’t permitted to name the exact companies in the portfolio, but she did confirm that of the universe of 3,000 organizations with which they started, there are currently around 400 that meet the Gender Parity requirements, up from just 250 five years ago. With those 400 in focus, Eve and her team apply their quantitative and qualitative analysis to whittle them down to the best 30 companies that fit in the investable group.
While SEC rules prevent Ellis from sharing performance numbers, she did say she’s pleased with the Gender Parity Portfolio’s five-year track record. Despite the success, however, Ellis has faced challenges along the way. “There are some people who don’t want to believe the research. They say it’s not causal, but that it’s ‘only a correlation’ to dismiss its relevance. But, they don’t require causality with other metrics used to seek financial performance,” said Ellis. “There is still quite a bit of bias.”
Ellis’s passion in her fight for women’s equality doesn’t end with the Gender Parity Portfolio. Rather, it’s a launchpad for other organizations with which she’s involved. Ellis is on the Board for the Ms. Foundation for Women, which works to empower women and girls in the United States. “I feel like part of the family there,” said Ellis, of the Ms. Foundation.
She’s also involved with the Thirty Percent Coalition, which works to increase gender diversity on corporate boards; the 30% Club, which aims to have FTSE-100 boards comprise at least 30 percent women; and the steering committee for the 2020 Women on Boards organization.
And for her “day job,” Eve is a wealth advisor, portfolio manager and co-founder of the Matterhorn Group at Morgan Stanley. Does Eve have time for sleep? “Of course,” she chuckled.
When asked about the significance of receiving this award and what it means to her, Ellis didn’t skip a beat. “Like Betty Cook, my niche is finance and I fight for opportunities for women in the corporate world. I am truly honored and humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Betty Cook,” said Ellis. “I hope that in the next century, while our fight and our goals may be valued, a fairer society will no longer require champions.”
It was my distinct honor, along with my fellow Board member Donna Wilson, to present Eve Ellis with the Betty Cook Award on behalf of the Women’s Bond Club. May she continue her important work in the years to come.