The New York Stock Exchange and the Fearless Girl statue. Photo by Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Fewer than 10% of asset management firms are owned by women or racial minorities, despite performing on par with firms owned by white men, according to a study released Monday. This includes firms that manage mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity funds and real estate funds.

Why it matters: The disparity promotes wealth inequality along gender and race lines.

The study, conducted by The Knight Foundation, Harvard Business School Professor Josh Lerner and Bella Private Markets, considered firms with at least 25% ownership held by women or minorities.

By the numbers:

  • Mutual funds: Female-owned firms comprise 9.9% and manage 0.8% of total industry assets under management (AUM). Minority-owned firms comprise 8.8% and manage 0.4% of industry AUM. The study found no difference in performance compared to other funds and that 26% and 29% of underrepresented firms, respectively, had top-quartile returns.
  • Hedge funds: Female-owned firms represent 4.6% of all firms and manage 1.5% of total hedge fund AUM. Minority-owned firms make up 8.9% of all firms and manage 2.7% of AUM. The study found no difference in performance and that 26% and 28% of underrepresented firms, respectively, had top-quartile returns.
  • Private equity: Female-owned firms represent 5.2% of firms and manage 3.4% of industry AUM. Minority-owned firms represent 3.9% and manage 3.8% of industry AUM. The study found no evidence of lower returns than the overall industry.
  • Real estate: Female-owned firms make up 1.8% of firms and manage o.8% of industry AUM. Minority-owned firms make up 2.2% of all firms and manage 1.2% of industry AUM. The study found "some weak evidence" that minority-owned funds underperform relative to others, but it is not statistically significant when using net internal rates of return as the performance metric.

Funding the funds: The study found that female- and minority-owned private equity funds have a smaller number of institutional investors as limited partners than do other private equity funds.

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