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Securian Financial invests in female led MPowered Capital

Firm seeks superior returns – and advances in diversity

Of the nearly $82 trillion in institutional assets under management in the United States, just a sliver — 1.4 percent — is managed by diverse-owned investment firms.1 Yet, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is diverse.2

The team at MPowered Capital, led by Founder and CEO Marcia Page, is out to change that, while at the same time aiming to deliver superior returns. MPowered’s mission is to create a more equitable future where capital formation, enterprise growth and wealth creation are accelerated, and all perspectives are welcome, encouraged and respected.

MPowered announced in April 2023 the close of its MPowered Capital Access Fund I with $110 million in committed capital and investments in or alongside 11 diverse investment managers. Securian Financial was an early investor with a $7 million commitment.

Drew Smith, Vice President and Portfolio Manager HGat Securian says, “We are always looking for strategies that provide a new angle on developing unique investment themes and sources of deal-flow; something that is differentiated from the market at large. The perspectives brought by diverse management teams fit this bill to a tee. The fact that this opportunity was founded by Marcia Page, an investor that we have known for over two decades and hold in very high regard, made MPowered a natural fit for our portfolio.”

Experience and research were drivers for MPowered

Marcia knows the market well — and its imbalance in talent — having co-founded another firm, Värde Partners, more than 30 years ago. Värde Partners, where she now serves as co-executive chair, is a leading global alternative investment firm specializing in credit and credit-related assets. It currently manages approximately $13 billion in assets with offices around the world.

Being a female in a male-dominated industry didn’t hinder Marcia’s success. But, she admits, that success likely led her to overlook that they weren’t fully addressing diversity at their own firm. “It wasn’t until 2016 when I transitioned to a co-chair role that I really took time to look around and make an honest assessment of the industry and my own firm.”

“I thought ‘Where is everyone? Where did everyone go?’” she said. “How is it possible that I’m one of the few female founders with a long track record who has built a firm to scale?” That prompted her to take a hard look at the data around diversity both at Värde and in the broader investment industry. “It was evident that the rate of change in financial services has been nothing short of glacial,” Marcia noted.

The idea for MPowered began as a passion project as she thought about these grave disparities. “It started with a thesis that there was a massive dislocation in the market,” she said. “So, I started personally investing in funds led by diverse talent. I also took a bottom-up view of the addressable market and realized there was a huge opportunity. That was the ultimate motivation to start MPowered Capital.”

The research backs up her thesis. An abundance of studies demonstrate that diverse teams outperform in a variety of settings. For example:

  • Relative to male-only deal teams, gender-diverse deal teams in private equity outperform by an average 12 percent of internal rate of return, along with reducing average capital loss ratios by 8 to 12 percent.3
  • Venture capital firms that increased their proportion of female partners by 10 percent saw, on average, a 1.5 percent spike in overall fund returns each year and had 9.7 percent more profitable exits.4

The research combined with MPowered’s unique understanding of, and relationships with, diverse managers, provides compelling support for their belief that diverse managers, at their core, should outperform.

Leading in this market and the flywheel effect

In addition to investing capital, MPowered provides strategic advice and support to help diverse managers with operations, human resources and business development. “We’re pairing strategic advice with flexible capital to help firms accelerate,” Marcia explained.

And Marcia believes if they do this well and bring others along, transformation can happen. But it takes time and intention. “We need to push the flywheel together. We need to turn the wheel to build momentum to a point of breakthrough.”

“It’s a big wheel to turn so I encourage people to ask ‘where is my place in this flywheel? How can I step in and go after opportunity and fill in a gap?’” she says. “It’s a personal choice on where to play but remember — everyone has a place. If we all pull together, we can make meaningful progress and make a more equitable future.”

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1. Knight Foundation, Bella Private Markets, Dec. 7, 2021, Knight Diversity of Asset Managers Research Series: Industry

2. Jones, Nicholas et al., August 12, 2021, “Improved Race and Ethnicity Measures Reveal U.S. Population is Much More Multiracial.” United States Census Bureau

3. HEC Insights, Why Private Equity firms should include more women, October 22, 2020 

4. The Other Diversity Dividend by Paul Gompers and Silpa Kovvali, 1 July 2018. The study used data on 14,000 VC investments in 42,000 individual startups.

DOFU 2-2024