Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future

Executive Summary

As the investment industry undergoes accelerating change, the investment professional of the future must adapt and embrace new challenges and opportunities for career success. This report considers how investment industry roles, skills, and careers (the employee’s lens) and the organizational context and culture (the employer’s lens) are shaping the attributes of the investment professional of the future.

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Changing Roles

Adaptability is essential: 89% of industry leaders agree that “individuals’ roles will be transformed multiple times during their careers; adaptability and lifelong learning will be the most essential skills.”

Change is anticipated: 43% of investment professionals think the role they perform today will be substantially different in 5–10 years’ time.

AI+HI will become the norm: Significant professional roles at the investment firms of the future will include investment roles, technology roles, and innovation roles. “AI+HI” denotes the interaction of artificial intelligence (AI) and human intelligence (HI). For certain interactions, the combined model adds more value than either component alone because it leverages the benefits of both. Ethical orientation, transparency, communication, empathy, tacit knowledge, and trust interaction are the key human elements that technology cannot (yet) reproduce.

Teams will dominate: A preference for portfolio management teams and a reduced reliance on star portfolio managers have prompted a focus on workforce diversity to improve decision making.

Work–life integration is the goal: Technology blurs boundaries between “work” and “life,” and professionals seek to move beyond work–life balance to work–life integration.

Asia Pacific growth continues: Asia will exhibit higher demand for investment professionals. China will experience multinationals establishing foreign majority–owned asset management firms and large international asset managers forming wholly owned subsidiaries. India—because of the increasing demand for financial services, its strong economic growth, and its number of capable engineers—could become the world’s investment hub.

Changing Skills and Careers

More investment professionals are motivated by learning than by compensation: Investment professionals are motivated most by having interesting work (65%), learning new things (63%), and having competitive compensation and benefits (51%). Key reasons to leave an employer are compensation and benefits (61%), not working for a good team or supervisor (58%), and not having interesting work (51%).

Soft skills is the topic most pursued across all career phases: Early career professionals also favor portfolio risk optimization and data interpretation. In later-career phases, sustainability and alternative investments are prioritized more highly.

T-shaped skills are valued: T-shaped people are subject matter experts, they adapt to changing environments, and they can work across disciplines, which includes being at ease with technology. Traditional learning and learning by doing both contribute. Investment industry leaders rank T-shaped skills as the most important future skill category (49% rank these first), followed by leadership skills (21%), soft skills (16%), and technical skills (14%).

Many important skills are difficult to find: The most important skills in each category are solutions skills, creativity/innovation skills, ability to articulate mission and vision, and situational fluency/adaptability. Creativity/innovation skills, ability to connect across disciplines, and solutions skills are the most difficult to find.

Time spent in on-the-job learning is high: CFA candidates spend 38% of their working time learning new things. More experienced CFA Institute members still spend 25% of their time on new work.

Career catalysts exist: These include mentors and sponsors, career roadmaps, acquired diversity, and a network of contacts.

Changing Cultures and Organizational Context

The world of work is changing: 77% of investment leaders expect the industry’s world of work to change more than it did in the past 10 years. We define the world of work as overall workplace features, roles and skills, work methods, and compensation and incentives.

Firms are managing the employee experience more: Employee experience will become a more common lever for organizations to differentiate themselves, including a commitment to an increased per-employee investment in training programs.

Workplace design is an enabler of culture: Workplace design focuses on functional elements (e.g., the environment, layout, and the quality of any enhancements in the workplace) but influences all aspects of the employee experience.

Technology will change cultures: Because a group’s collective intelligence will matter more than individual intelligence, investment firms will increasingly favor teams supported by technology. Organizations will seek to use technology to enhance human roles with some net cost and efficiency gains. Technology opportunities will cause role displacement, creating challenges as leaders manage the cultural transition.

Training will increase: 60% of industry leaders surveyed expect firms to increase training and development. Organizations recognize the need to continuously upskill professionals to remain effective. Benefits of providing ongoing learning opportunities include higher-quality analytical work, deeper client engagements, retention of a firm’s best people, and a stronger bench of talent. People who develop a deep expertise stay longer because their key development needs are being met.



A Roadmap for Investment Professionals


Use the career flywheel. An effective career flywheel sustains its momentum through a series of well-executed and well-timed interventions and adaptations on the career journey. Career paths today vary more than in the past, and employers are less likely to prescribe a preferred path. The critical success factors are maintaining a learning and growth mindset, building a “give and get” alliance with each employer, and having healthy work–life integration.


Apply the skills pathway. At the start of a career, build a technical edge. Blend in soft skills for mid-career effectiveness. Add leadership skills that produce value from influences on others. Make connections, and develop lateral thinking (i.e., T-shaped skills).

Think of a portfolio of these skills, and take career planning to more detailed and forward-thinking levels.


Navigate and harness technology. The ability to work with technology is a necessity for all professionals. The success of AI+HI applications will be dependent on T-shaped teams with shared team space and shared language. The opportunities for specialist roles in technology to build financial context into technology development and deployment are particularly significant.


A Roadmap for Investment Organizations


Cultivate stronger culture. 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 a new societal norm that is likely to progress further in the next 5–10 years. Managing culture involves deliberate strategy and leadership action to establish cultural signatures that are particularly motivational and sustainable.


Communicate. The workplace of the future must respect the whole-life considerations of employees and calls for greater emotional intelligence than has ever been needed before. This change will require openness and for the communication abilities of organizations to become more authentic, inclusive, and empathetic.


Transform your worldview. There is only one way to progress—become a firm that uses technology and innovation effectively alongside talent and strong culture. The opportunities for innovation in the workplace are considerable when leaders broaden their frame of reference and become more T-shaped in their understanding of technology.