Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future


Roadmap for Investment Organizations


Enhance Employee Experience: Cultivate Stronger Culture

In the previous section, we discussed the individual’s need to keep learning. Here, the principle is applied to the employee experience. That learning should focus particularly on how to apply strong culture and purpose to the benefit of the organization and its individuals.

In the Changing Cultures and Organizational Context section, we discussed the investment professional through the employer lens. The major points concerned the significance of three areas of investment organizations: culture, technology, and authentic communication. We summarize the major ideas about culture here.

There are a number of choices investment organizations can make to attract and retain outstanding professionals. In Investment Firm of the Future, we described how organizations have three different ways of creating focus or visions: results centered, client centered, and people centered.

We suggested that a results-centered organization appears to lack a compelling and unifying purpose. But organizations that are either client centered or people centered are able to align on purpose and create stronger motivational forces as a consequence.

We further noted that there is a growing appetite for people-centered cultures that make employee experience and well-being central to policies and practice.

The other factor at work is a changing ethos on the underlying purpose of firms from a societal perspective, as shown in Exhibit 26.

Exhibit 26



You would have to pay me a lot more to work for an organization that does not offer this


I would never work for an organization that does not offer this

Shared Action: My employer has a greater purpose, and my job has a meaningful societal impact



Personal Empowerment: I know what is going on, I am part of the planning process, and I have a voice; the culture is inclusive



Job Opportunity: My employer offers wage growth, training, career growth, and work that I find interesting and fulfilling



The view that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates is widely subscribed to and appears likely to progress further in the next 5–10 years. Investment firms and organizations of all types should recognize the force of this changing societal norm.

What is likely to be different in the future versus the past?

The choices of professionals are growing. Particularly with millennials and the new generation joining the workforce, it is clear that employers have to do more for the employee experience or face major business difficulty. Expectations of clients and other stakeholders are also changing. It is clear that organizations must take more notice of the tacit terms of their societal license to operate.

What is likely to be the same?

The organizational tension that investment organizations face is between profit maximization and the professional duty to serve clients. This has been a matter of significance since investment firms came into existence.

What advice can we offer here to the investment firm of the future?

The principal advice we offer is to work on a stronger, more purposeful, and more engaged culture. As described in Future State of the Investment Profession, it is a case of enlightened self-interest—firms that do this should do better over time, benefiting themselves and their clients.

Invest in Empowering Leadership: Communicate

Where individuals need to invest in their skills, investment organizations need to invest in their leaders and the empowering culture that can make that leadership work.

The leadership of investment organizations has a particular challenge to reconcile seemingly contradictory actions:

  • Integrating direct decision making with indirect levers like strategy and culture
  • Balancing internal and external constituencies
  • Proactively driving an agenda while responding to unfolding events
  • Focusing on tangible decisions and the symbolic significance of every action
  • Combining formal power and less formal legitimacyxlii

The data suggest that employees, clients, and society more broadly are looking for leadership that

  • Speaks out. People crave strong leadership shaped from rich values; leaders have scope to craft messages that go further than the strict confines of the business.
  • Draws on legitimacy. An effective leader speaks within the sphere of competency and stakeholder reach.
  • Is empathetic. A leader should know how to read the audience well.
  • Shows the courage necessary. Courageous leaders can convey the need for change effectively.
  • Is clear and consistent on values. Organizational values should be in sync with actions; authenticity is critical.

Investment organizations have, until now, kept a quiet profile with respect of the limits to their business. This is consistent with seeing stakeholder relations as limited by tight boundaries.

But in the more open era we are living in, leadership will be expected to demonstrate greater influence.

What is particularly important is how successfully leaders connect with their workforce around a new agenda of topics that were previously not discussed in the workplace. Employees will increasingly seek engagement and counsel on a number of areas:

  • The future of work in the organization, where jobs are enhanced, where jobs are being displaced, and how employees can benefit from the former and avoid the latter
  • The relevance of work in the organization (i.e., employees seek meaningful work and need leadership to have the vision to explain the wider significance of their work; for example, asset management producing excellent retirement outcomes for large numbers of individuals)
  • The ways for workers to address career management
  • The society/community issues that are, or should be, important to employees and how some level of workplace exposure to these issues is valuable
  • Inclusion and respect for all employees generally and individuals’ identity and self-worth in particular

What is likely to be different in the future versus the past?

The workplace of the future must respect the whole-life considerations of employees, which calls for considerably greater emotional intelligence than was needed in the past.

What is likely to be the same?

Very little, which is why being change-savvy is so critical.

What advice can we offer here to the investment firm of the future?

Investment organizations need to pursue a much more carefully weighted hierarchy of organizational principles than they have in the past. This suggests that in the alignment of vision, strategy, and culture, the soft aspects of the employee value proposition and related value system need much more attention. Positive change will emerge only if the cultures of organizations become more open and the communication abilities of these organizations become much more authentic, inclusive, and empathetic.

Be Change-Savvy: Transform Your Worldview

The accelerating pace of change in the investment industry is fundamentally conditioned by the increasing impact of technology. The biggest factor in this change, according to our expert opinion, is AI displacing and/or enhancing investment roles previously filled by humans. Our discussions with industry leaders show a large degree of apprehension as to how to manage organizations through this transition. This apprehension stems from the limited appreciation that leaders show of how to manage technology effectively.

The second factor that concerns industry experts is about industry consolidation driven by the relentless pressure on costs and streamlining. Investment firms are compelled to continually increase technology spend just to stay competitive but also must manage those costs to stay profitable.

The third factor is technology enabling new professional roles to grow in data science and wider fields. The development of tech-savvy investment professionals and visionary leadership appears most critical of all. The human–machine interface requires people to do new and different things and to do things differently. So far only a small number of organizations have begun to reimagine their business process to optimize collaborative intelligence.xliii

The fourth factor concerns innovation in the workplace. In the Changing Cultures and Organizational Context section, we suggested that most organizations have had a fairly unfocused approach to workplace management: Typically, offices are based on a hierarchy, and there are uninspiring group spaces, barriers between teams, and inflexible work arrangements. The workplace is ripe for innovation.

What is likely to be different in the future versus the past?

Moore’s law and its corollaries suggest that technology capacity limits are bringing marginal data costs down to nil. That means that over time, machine learning and other data science applications will be highly influential factors in investment industry portfolio management and service delivery.

What is likely to be similar?

An important fact is that the purpose of the industry remains the same; its function of delivering investment outcomes to clients has not changed, even though the tools used in it have.

What advice can we offer here to the investment firm of the future?

The principal advice we offer is there is only one way to progress: Become a firm that uses technology and innovation effectively. The means by which organizations achieve this state starts with leaders broadening their frame of reference and becoming more T-shaped in their understanding of technology. In particular, the opportunities for innovation in the workplace are considerable. The consideration of data and research should be instrumental to changes in workplace arrangements using evidence-based principles.


Roadmap for organizations

  • Enhance employee experience: cultivate stronger culture
  • Invest in empowering leadership: communicate
  • Be change-savvy: transform your worldview