Watch out: Asset management firms are rethinking their staffing plans, according to new research from Greenwich Associates.
According to the report, fee compression, the growth in the outsourced chief investment officer market, and big data have already pushed firms to reconsider how they approach their strategies. Now, asset managers are taking a look at whether their employees have the skills necessary for the firms to grow, especially in non-investment functions.
Employees with data science and technology backgrounds are in high demand across departments at asset management firms, according to Sarah Sikes, the report’s author and a consultant at Greenwich Associates. But those who lack that type of experience need not fret, she added.
“You need to evolve,” Sikes said of these employees. “There has been a shift, or will be a shift, depending on which firm you’re at, in terms of the skills that are desired.”
The report showed that 66 percent of companies surveyed said effective digital channels are the most important factor when they’re considering ease of doing business. Given this, more firms are considering how they can improve their digital capabilities. And while investment jobs tend to already use big data and technology, these skills will become necessary in all departments, including sales, marketing, and consultant relations, the report showed.
According to Sikes, institutional marketing departments are seeking the biggest shift.
“Historically, the marketing department has been more of a resource center, where different groups were saying they need reports or commentaries or updated pitchbooks,” she said.
The role of these teams has become more elevated recently and is now on par with senior leadership, Sikes said. New hires are expected to balance their creative side with the ability to leverage new technologies, according to the report.
Other departments at asset management firms should also expect change, the report showed.
Those in relationship management roles are expected to become more proactive when managing day-to-day requests; this will be aided by technology and tools, the report said. And those in consultant relations are increasingly expected to have an “entrepreneurial spirit,” the report showed. For their part, those in institutional sales are expected to become more data-driven and collaborative, according to Greenwich’s report.
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According to Sikes, some firms are changing the layout of their offices to foster more collaboration. Whatever tactic they use, though, it’s clear to Sikes that growing competition in the industry will push more firms to focus on how their employees can use technology, she said.
“The existing, established asset management firms have a competitive advantage,” Sikes said. “They already have an established client base. For the firms that haven’t embraced the shift, they’ll lose their competitive advantage.”