The Great Reprioritization: How Industry Leaders are Transforming Challenge into Opportunity
Compared with the hardest-hit industries, asset management has emerged from the pandemic relatively strong — at least from a financial standpoint, according to Yariv Itah, Managing Principal at Casey Quirk, a Deloitte Business.
“The industry has not managed more assets, generated more revenue, employed more people, or paid its people as much as it has over the last couple of years,” Itah told attendees of Nicsa’s 2022 Strategic Leadership Forum on March 31.
Still, Itah, who moderated the panel, cautioned that the pandemic has caused permanent changes in terms of hiring and retention, corporate culture, and technology.
“Our staff do not necessarily want to go back to the way things were before,” he said. “Your clients like some of the Zoom-enabled interactions, so there will be fewer slots to meet in person. Technology investments have shot up in the industry as asset management firms try to become more digital, and so forth.”
With these changes in mind, thought leaders from SS&C Technologies, Franklin Templeton Investments, and MFS shared their perspectives on the pandemic-spurred structural changes that may or may not be here to stay.
“MFS is looking to have a flexible arrangement start in April, and we are very much looking forward to it,” said Rheeta Wise, President, MFS Service Center, MFS. “Think about how nice it is for all of us to be together here today,” Rheeta said. “We’re trying to help folks understand how good it feels once you make your way back to a hybrid arrangement and get that human interaction.”
When asked about red lines — structural changes a firm will not make no matter the circumstance — Allyson Whiteley, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Global Talent Management, Franklin Templeton Investments, remained open-minded.
“Jenny Johnson, our CEO, has been such a wonderful supporter of the opportunity that the pandemic and the shift in thinking has brought to the industry,” Whiteley said. “As you have probably heard her say, we believe talent can be anywhere if we challenge our own thinking and beliefs about how work used to get done. As the competition rises in this industry and the labor market stays buoyant, that’s going to help us tap into the best talent we can find.”
Whiteley pointed to the challenges inherent in managing hybrid workforces for the first time.
“You have some people physically at your side, and it will be easy to lean over to them and give them the tasks you need help with,” she said. “At the end of the day, that might come at the expense of some of the up-and-coming talent who are in a hybrid or fully remote scenario. We are on a precipice where leaders must learn to lead completely differently — and technology is a wonderful enabler in that respect. But it does not do anything if we don't use it effectively.”
To that end, Tracy Shelby, U.S. Co-Head of Global Investor and Distribution Solutions, SS&C Technologies, said his financial technology company has rolled out several tools designed to enable efficient and secure collaboration in a hybrid workplace.
“We are making sure we have technology that's going to be effective whether someone is sitting in an office or if someone is never stepping foot in an office,” Shelby said. “If you look at the underlying outsourcing business that I am responsible for, we had to invest in a lot of technology focused on better enabling the work-from-home workforce. We replaced our telephony systems with a cloud-based telephone system. As part of that, we also implemented a number of fraud detection and prevention solutions aimed to make work-from-home associates more effective in identifying potential fraud.”
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