These are the Skills CEOs and CIOs Need

A new survey from the CFA Institute asked investment professionals what qualities were most important for the industry’s leaders.


What does it take to make it as the head of an investing organization?

A new report from the CFA Institute surveyed 1,145 professional investors to determine the skills needed to succeed as the CIO or CEO of an asset management firm or asset owner over the next decade.

“Our industry is at an inflection point, where success or failure hangs in the balance,” said Paul Smith, president and CEO of the institute, in a statement accompanying the results. “Industry leaders will make decisions over the next five years that will have an impact not just on their firms, but also on the entire landscape of the investment profession as we know it.”

Across the board, survey respondents prioritized the ability “to articulate a compelling vision for the institution” for the future as the number one skill required for investment executives.

For CIOs and portfolio managers, respondents also ranked relationship-building skills and specialized financial analysis skills as the second and third most important traits for success. Relationship-building skills were also considered very important for asset management CEOs, while respondents believed an understanding of corporate governance and regulations was highly necessary for asset-owner CEOs. For both types of CEO, the ability to instill a culture of ethical decision making ranked as the third most important skill.


For asset managers in particular, strong ethical values were considered necessary to attracting and retaining clients: In an earlier CFA Institute survey, 72 percent of institutional investors rated “acting in an ethical manner in all our interactions” as an important attribute for any asset management firm they work with.

Few believed CEOs needed much knowledge of information technology, science, engineering, or mathematics — but roughly a quarter thought CIOs and portfolio managers did.

However, while the majority said prospective employees skilled in science, engineering, and math were common enough, applicants with sophisticated knowledge of IT were among the hardest to find.

The “ability to articulate a compelling vision” was also voted one of the hardest skills to find in the labor pool, despite being considered the most important. Strong crisis management skills were also considered relatively rare.

Still, ethical decision making was voted as the most important area of focus for employee training programs over the next five to ten years. A majority also said investment organizations should focus on developing relationship-building and financial analysis skills, as well as teaching employees about corporate governance and regulations.

Information technology was voted the least important subject for employee training, even though 44 percent of respondents believed IT posed a strategic opportunity for their organizations over the next decade.