Food for thought at our Edinburgh Round Table
In his recent article “What keeps a funds industry leader awake at night?“, Phil Barker touched on some of the key challenges faced within the Asset Management industry. Continuing our exploration into this, we recently sat down with some of our clients over dinner to discover whether these challenges were universal or whether they had their own sleep stealers.
One thing everyone agreed on was that the key focus remains to grow revenues through improving sales, but of course that can be easier said than done! There are some areas which can distract their focus as set out below:
Everyone agreed that RFP documents are often weighty and time-consuming and there is a clear wish to outsource this kind of work, but also an understanding that to do so might cause more harm than good. It could result in too much variety and inconsistency in the responses. Most attendees thought that Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence might be the way forward. These systems could at least potentially ingest several nuanced answers and disseminate them into a nearly complete answer. Everyone will have a weather eye on developments in that area.
Accessing quality Business Intelligence at sales/redemption level can often be a troublesome. Everyone at the table saw it as imperative to be able to source information explaining investment decisions to clients following portfolio movements. In addition, forward-looking analysis seems to be noticeably absent and this acts as such a hindrance to any Distribution team and the retention of firm assets. In answer to this, several firms are looking into linking their CRM system to an order or operational system. Tricky, but potentially game-changing for a Distribution team?
From the gathering of data (from who? In-house? A third party? An administrator?) to the gentle cajoling of the Fund Manager to provide a commentary within a reasonable amount of time, Factsheets are a common challenge. Judging by the conversation in Edinburgh, it is clear from client feedback that they themselves would prefer the numerical information swiftly rather than it be delayed by the production of some investment analysis. The Asset Managers are seriously considering this and could well be something that we see in the future.
There was agreement around the table that Platforms seem to have the strongest position in the market, and this can be a cause for concern. All agreed that the Platforms are vital to their business but there is understandably caution about the new, and higher fees that are starting to emerge. The question remains will there be further consolidation within the market?
Last, but certainly not least, the sticky subject of Distribution Channels arose. No one had a clear idea of what direction they might be going in, but there is a general belief that the next generation of investors will expect very different channels to those in use today. Those who have been brought up using Google, Amazon etc. will expect different and speedy routes to information, screening, ethical investments etc. The list goes on. Will the new distribution channel be Social? Everyone agreed that this was very likely but it will be a case of wait and seeing for now what impact this has on business models.
We engage with our clients on a regular basis and find that frequent and open communication is always of great benefit to both sides. We consider it a privilege to be able to work in partnership with many of the great companies across the Platform and Asset Management industry, not least with those represented by the attendees who made it to our Edinburgh round table. A huge thanks to each of them.
For assistance with any of your Data, Digital or Regulatory needs, please email us or call us +44 117 980 9994 to talk to one of our experts.
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All figures correct as at 31.12.2019.