Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future


Roadmap for Investment Professionals


Keep Learning and Adapting: Use the Career Flywheel

As covered in the Changing Roles and Changing Skills sections, an individual’s career is made up of a lifetime’s experience in a combination of employed roles and deployed skills over time.

We introduced the career flywheel in Exhibit 18 and include it again here for reference. The flywheel makes up the multiple lived experiences in a professional’s career—their education, jobs, and learning. We visualize the career flywheel creating the human capital, identity, and personal brand that are unique to every professional. An effective career flywheel sustains its momentum through a series of well-executed and well-timed interventions and adaptions on the career journey.

We suggested in the previous section how the roles played in investment organizations must bring a value proposition to both employee and employer; great job experiences are strong alliances that bring together the engaged professional with the empowering employer.

Exhibit 18
Infographic displays the

The inputs in this cycle are combinations of competencies in acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities; work experiences; and the motivations driving them. The outputs are behaviors and accomplishments relative to goals. These repeat in a cycle to represent a career in motion.

The parallel inputs of (1) the employer, (2) the part of the employee motivations it generates, and (3) the organization’s results are key influences on the employee experience. Notably, the employee benefits (or not) from a positive culture, the extrinsic motivations from pay and benefits, and the organizational resilience that match up with complements on the other side of the ledger.

What is different in the future versus the past?

The likelihood of multiple roles in careers, as shown in Exhibit 23, is the consequence of structural changes in work reflecting technology. The need for lifelong learning sits alongside the multiple roles. The impacts of technology suggest technology content in work will be significant throughout all future professional careers.

What is similar in the future versus the past?

Personal character and resilience have always been critical to careers, and we expect that to continue. We continue to emphasize the 3 Es and the 3 Cs: ethics, experience, and empowerment and commitment, connection, and collegiality.

What advice can we offer to the investment professional of the future?

Develop a career management framework—applying career flywheel principles discussed in this report and devoting substantial time to career management planning and action. Across any decade of work, the allocated time to career management should average at least an hour a week.

Managing a career is about to get a lot harder. The principles of doing it well are spread through this report, and we suggest the distillation is to maintain a learning mindset and growth mindset, build an alliance with each employer, and evolve effective work–life integration.

Exhibit 23


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Individuals’ roles transformed multiple times; adaptability critical


Individuals differentiate themselves by being tech savvy


Thriving is significantly about character and professionalism


Diversity contributions, particularly cognitive diversity, valued in teams

Invest in New-Era Skills: Apply the Skills Pathway

The four core skills for investment professionals were introduced in Changing Skills, where we used the term “pathway” to suggest the varying mix of skills that are desirable as careers progress. Exhibit 14 demonstrates the suggested progression of skill development.

Exhibit 14
Graph displays a recommended career path in terms of the balance of skill types needed. Technical skills are the most important type early in one's career, but then the other types (soft, leadership, and T-shaped skills) become more important over time.

All professionals in the field of investment need technical skills. These skills have become more critical over time as the scope of investment has expanded and the investment system has developed greater complexity. We suggest that individuals in all roles need to have a combination of specialized, role-specific knowledge and skills and some understanding of the whole system (a broad base of knowledge gained from a holistic education, such as the CFA Program). One can consider ethics as complementary to (and necessary for) proficiency in technical skills. We see ethics as providing the values and judgments that surround and bind certain knowledge, skills, and abilities.

In Changing Skills, we discussed how, through a competency framework, knowledge, skills, and abilities govern the talent and expertise, experience, and accomplishments that professionals need to perform at the highest level. We suggested that professionals increasingly need a more diverse set of skills and abilities, collectively known as soft skills, to accomplish tasks and goals with interpersonal elements. The area covers communication skills and creative, social, and emotional forms of intelligence. Research shows that soft skills can be learned.xli

We cite leadership skills as requiring these soft skills but going above and beyond in being able to articulate a compelling vision, inspire confidence in others, and propagate shared values that can form part of an organization’s culture. We take the view that leadership is a skill to be developed.

As careers develop and thrive, the skills that are needed are much more likely to be T-shaped skills, which are found in people who connect the dots well, work well with other people, and understand the wider system that their organization functions within. Innate to being effective in a T-shape is being at ease with technology. T-shaped skills are acquired most from combining traditional learning with experience learning (i.e., learning by doing).

An additional step is the mastery of rare and valuable skills. This category can involve very experienced people ultimately adopting highly specialized roles where their comparative advantage acquired through significant devotion to learning has particular value (e.g., the most-talented stock-picking professionals).

There are three key principles for working with the Skills Pathway in Exhibit 14. First, it lines up roughly with length of experience. The skills at the earlier steps are critical to early-stage professionals; and later steps are progressively more important and valuable. Second, careers are not monotonically programmed to move to the right. There are many individual circumstances where steps may be taken lightly or skipped altogether. Third, there is no suggestion that all career plans should end with a role in the rare and valuable skills step. But it is hard to see many senior roles in investing excluding T-shaped skills, which is reinforced by the importance of T-shaped skills in the survey data.

What is different in the future versus the past?

The significant growth in investment system interconnectivity and complexity has created conditions that accentuate the value of T-shaped skills.

What is the same?

Career management requires a capacity to think ahead and develop the opportunities for learning that will produce professional growth later in a career.

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

Build your career management plans to progress through the Skills Pathway.

Be Tech-Savvy: Navigate and Harness Technology

The large degree of change expected in the next 5–10 years, as shown in Exhibit 24, is mostly a consequence of technology.

Exhibit 24








Overall workplace features, roles and skills, work methods, compensation and incentives

Change relative to the past 10 years

We have categorized the effects of technology into three levels, shown in Exhibit 25.

Exhibit 25
Pyramid diagram categorizes the effects of technology, with basic applications making up the base of the pyramid because these will be important for all professionals, followed by specialist applications that will impact some investment professionals, and hyper-specialist applications for a few professionals at the apex.
  1. The basic applications in technology require all professionals to do things differently, ensuring technology improves task execution in amplifying, interacting, and replicating (replacing tasks and sometimes displacing human roles).
  2. The specialist applications in technology will be in enhancing different things where investment teams and technology teams collaborate closely in shared team space and to foster T-shaped team skills.
  3. The hyper-specialist applications in technology are derived from data science evolution and its spin-offs in new and different things like developing and deploying AI systems alongside roles in training, explaining, and sustaining (ensuring safe and accurate tech deployment). While many of the individuals involved will not be dual trained in investment and data science, the best will be.

What is different?

There is a wholesale shift occurring in people plus technology models for the industry. That shift will evolve and accelerate.

What is the same?

Professionals have always had to respond to new technologies. Recall the impact the desktop computer had on the investment industry.

What advice can we offer to the investment professional of the future?

Build tech-savvy skills (i.e., understanding and using technology effectively) and make sure they serve you, not the other way around.


Roadmap for professionals

  • Keep learning and adapting: use the career flywheel
  • Invest in new era skills: apply the skills pathway
  • Be tech-savvy: navigate and harness technology