Consulting Asset & Wealth Managers
Discussing the behaviour of the market pre- and post-COVID-19.
Courtesy of Jamilla Adelline - Asset & Wealth Management Consultant
Pre-pandemic, how had client needs evolved during your time focusing on the Asset Management industry?
Up until the pandemic hit, the asset and wealth management sectors, which are traditional and stable markets, were experiencing lots of dynamic change. My view is that needs are changing because the world is changing and people - the clients of asset and wealth managers - are changing.
From an institutional perspective, when we think of funds and the like, I’ve seen an industry-wide focus on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and ethical options as asset managers need to be able to service their clients who are now thinking more from an ethical perspective. If the people that they’re servicing change, they need to change.
When looking from a D2C (direct-to-consumer) perspective, one stat that I absolutely adore is that over the next eight years or so there is expected to be £4 billion of wealth transfer from the golden age generation to millennials. This means that the face of the client is changing, the needs of the client are changing and the individuals who have control over large sums of wealth is changing - the digital generation. Investment managers need to be able to service those millennials whether it’s through the ethical perspective on the institutional side, having more digital options or having a different type of wealth management service - having a different culture within their business to support a new type of client. Those are the huge things that are driving the clients’ needs.
How has the pandemic impacted the services that can be provided to asset managers and their clients?
Personally, the type of work I do hasn’t changed much. I would probably caveat that by saying that all companies this time a year ago didn’t know what this would mean. My thoughts at the beginning when it hit were ‘Oh no! Will this affect my job security? Will the industry I specialise in weather the storm?” Thankfully, I am still in employment a year later, so it was not the scary event I initially anticipated. I enjoy where I work and there is amazing leadership so my worries did not last long. They knew what was going on in the same way we knew what was going on. From a work perspective, there were very few times that I felt that I was going to be hit by what was happening in the world, but then I would say that as a consultant, I’m not very often in our own offices. Like most consultants, the majority of the time I’m at a client’s site. I do have the opportunity to work remotely from my company’s head office which made the transition of working from home more of a seamless one.
There was a period of uncertainty, no matter the industry, with regards to what can happen and what can’t happen, especially with the pandemic happening right before the budget season. However, I’ve been very lucky to work alongside individuals who are very understanding of the fact that there is a pandemic and people are doing their best in the circumstances.
If anything, I’ve seen continuing strategic change occurring, a lot of which we see through announcements that have been made over the last year. The type of work I enjoy and have been lucky enough to work on include developing strategic initiatives such as product and launch strategies. These types of growth initiatives are not what one would expect during a pandemic, but it is a testament to the resilience of the industry!
There are obviously some things which have become more important. I’ve recently co-written an insight piece on collaboration, collaborative culture and using collaboration tools. That has become so much more important because how do you collaborate when you can’t just chat in the kitchen or pop by someone’s desk?
Digitisation of processes and functions, such as marketing, was something that was already occurring but with the pandemic keeping organisations remote, I would think it is more pertinent than just over a year ago. Across the industry, changes were already being made, but now you almost don’t have a choice because you need to figure out how to collaborate if no one who works for you is in the office.
How did you navigate the pandemic? Did you have support?
The one thing I would definitely say is that when there is uncertainty in any circumstance – whether a pandemic or not – it is important to be honest with yourself and those around you. I understood that there was uncertainty and no one around me pretended there was a crystal ball that let them know what was coming up – both in my personal life and my professional life. From a work perspective, I work for an organisation where wellbeing is key and that ensured I had the support in place to persevere through the unprecedented times.
In terms of transitions, are there any skills or tools that you see asset and wealth managers or their consultants finding more or less useful as a result of the pandemic?
My personal view - office buildings. A lot of companies, especially consultancies, have a lot of real estate that the pandemic has shown that they don’t necessarily need. In terms of skills, I don’t think there’s anything that’s less useful. The only thing I can think of is that there has been a shift in ways of working. If I use myself, for example, I am able to give my clients all of my skills, which I obviously think are great, in a very efficient manner. My days are flexible yet efficient because I don’t commute, I use my breaks in my day to eat and do some yoga. They really can get everything that is possible for me to offer, whilst I’m also able to provide myself with self-care. The pandemic hasn’t been positive, but it’s shown a positive light on a new way of working. We’re still all trying to achieve the same thing - growth and sustainability. None of that has changed nor will change, but maybe there’s an increased need for sustainable ways of working because we now live in a slightly different world. The pandemic has shown that anything can shake up the world, the markets and how your business works, so you just need to have the structures in place to weather the storm.
Jamilla Adeline - Asset & Wealth Management Consultant