16 October 2019 13:56
Fund manager M&G today faced allegations it failed to deal with repeated sexual harassment by a senior manager of junior female colleagues. The Bloomberg news agency, which highlighted allegations of a culture of harassment at the Lloyd's of London insurance market, said he fondled two women inappropriately and grabbed and kissed two more at a staff party, largely focusing on junior colleagues and trainees. The man, not named in the report, is also accused of sending sexually graphic images to one of the women late at night. Bloomberg said the women claimed when they reported his behaviour, nothing was done. M&G said it had hired law firm Baker McKenzie to investigate the allegations, describing them as "very serious matters which merit a full investigation".
The report made numerous allegations about the environment at M&G, accusing it of having "a deeply embedded drinking culture", where some staff and managers go drinking at lunchtime, view pornography at their desks and head to strip clubs after work. Lloyd's launched a full review into its culture after Bloomberg's report. Prudential Plc has received resounding approval from shareholders for the demerger of its UK and European savings and investments business. At the British insurance giant's general meeting yesterday (October 15) in London, 99.43% of the votes cast by shareholders were in favour of the proposed split with M&G Plc. The demerger from the parent firm will result in two separately listed companies, with M&G shares to be admitted to trading on the main market for listed securities of the London Stock Exchange. On completion of the split, shareholders will hold interests in both Prudential and M&G.
Meanwhile the general meeting also saw shareholders give the nod to Amy Yip's appointment as a non-executive director. Yip, who is part of the remuneration committee, brings extensive experience of China and Southeast Asia to Prudential following a four-decade career in insurance, asset management, and government. Last month, in Prudential's analyst presentation, the enterprise described itself as an "Asia-led group focused on capturing opportunities in structural growth markets." Aside from the demerger, part of its UK and Europe exit is the sale of £12 billion annuities to Rothesay Life Plc. (Bloomberg)--One of London's top money managers, responsible for overseeing billions of pounds of assets at M&G Prudential Plc, is alleged to have sexually harassed female colleagues over several years. The senior fund manager targeted women in junior positions at the firm's London headquarters and barraged them with sexually explicit text messages, inappropriate comments and unwanted physical contact, according to people who experienced or witnessed his behavior and asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. One woman who frequently dealt with the manager said he would often put his hand on her bottom, fondle her thighs or give her unsolicited shoulder massages. When she asked him to stop, she said, he would refuse and complain she was being uptight, or say he had touched her by accident. A second woman said he did similar things to her. The first woman said she complained about the behavior to the firm's human resources department. It isn't known what, if any, action the company took, but the manager has remained in his position. "We consider the allegations that you have raised with us to be very serious matters which merit a full investigation," Alexandra Ranson, a spokeswoman for M&G, said in an email to Bloomberg News. "We want our people to feel safe where they work, and expect all our employees to treat each other with dignity and respect. If it is found that any individuals in the employment of M&G Prudential have breached our very clear policies relating to conduct and behavior, we will take the appropriate disciplinary action." The firm has hired law firm Baker McKenzie to assist with the investigation, according to people with knowledge of the probe. A Baker McKenzie spokeswoman declined to comment. M&G, which manages about 340 billion pounds ($430 billion) of assets on behalf of both retail and institutional investors, is owned by British insurer Prudential Plc. Prudential is planning to spin off its U.K. and European investment and savings business as M&G Plc later this month. Drinking Culture Harassment is still part of daily life for many women working in finance in London, where the high cost of pursuing court cases and some of the toughest libel and privacy laws in the world conspire against them. In contrast with the U.S., where media outlets have identified accused sexual harassers, many in the U.K. have remained anonymous. Few people who say they've been victims have been willing to make those claims publicly in court. Bloomberg News isn't naming the manager at this time. His lawyer said he has never been made aware of any complaint about his behavior to HR. A Bloomberg Businessweek investigation in March revealed a culture of sexual misconduct nearby at the 331-year-old Lloyd's of London insurance market, ranging from inappropriate comments to unwanted touching and sexual assault. In response, Lloyd's set up a whistle-blower hotline, introduced lifetime bans for inappropriate behavior and barred those under the influence of alcohol or drugs from the exchange. Like Lloyd's, M&G has a deeply embedded drinking culture, where some employees, including managers, knock back pints in the pubs and clubs around the office at lunchtime before returning to the office or after work. Some would round off an evening with a trip to a strip club. Rape jokes and other coarse sexual language were the norm in the office and at the pub, the people said. Some men would openly look at pornographic pictures on their mobile phones while at their desks, one person said. The senior manager who allegedly harassed junior colleagues made no secret of what he was doing. At a staff party a few years ago, he approached a trainee, grabbed her around the waist, held her close and kissed her, according to a person who witnessed the incident. The woman was visibly distressed, but no one did anything to stop him, the person said. The manager did the same thing to another woman later that same night, the person said. Inappropriate Messages The manager would target women in junior positions where they didn't have any power, the people said. One woman said he started off by making inappropriate comments about her clothing and physical appearance, then asked for her phone number in case he needed to contact her outside of work and connected with her on social media.