Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future

Strategies for Learning New Skills


The two basic approaches for building new skills are on-the-job learning and use of learning resources. Our survey of members and candidates gives an indication of the level of on-the-job learning: Investment professionals spend about one-third of their work time learning new things versus doing familiar work. Lifelong learning is an essential element of ongoing success, and in fact, those with more years of experience are more likely to see the industry as intellectually challenging (77% of members agree with this statement compared with 65% of candidates).

The proportion varies by job role, as seen in Exhibit 17, and can be explained in part by the typical pathways to these roles.

Exhibit 17
This graph asks investment professionals to estimate the proportion of their work that is doing familiar work versus new work that would require learning, and results are displayed by role. On average, about one third of their work is new, but the ratio is lower among more senior roles like portfolio managers (25% new work) and chief investment officers (28%).

Individuals doing relatively less new work tend to be in linear career paths—that is, roles that are similar in terms of progression of skills and knowledge at the same or different firms. An example of linear career progression in investment management is the traditional path from research analyst to portfolio manager to CIO. In contrast, individuals with lateral, or non-linear, career paths experience different roles and functions, thus requiring different knowledge and skills at multiple stages of their careers, possibly in different functional areas or industries.

In terms of resources, the most valuable sources of professional learning, according to our member and candidate survey respondents, are books and publications, favored as one of the top three most valuable sources of professional learning by 64% of respondents. A close second, at 61%, is coworkers/industry peers, especially early in one’s career, which shows the value of personal networks. The next tier of resources are conferences (33%), webinars (32%), and in-person courses (29%). In Asia, online courses via social media platforms are popular.