Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future


The investment industry is changing rapidly. Investment firms are facing challenges to their business model in the form of fee compression and the need to better integrate technology, and clients are asking for more personalized advice and products that align with their values.(i) These pressures and demands also have implications for investment professionals and their careers. In fact, 43% of investment professionals think the role they perform today will be substantially different in 5–10 years’ time.

Against this backdrop of change, we consider how investment industry roles, skills, and careers (the employee’s lens) and organizational context and culture (the employer’s lens) are evolving to shape the attributes of the investment professional of the future.

This research is relevant for investment professionals in assessing the key decisions about their careers and for investment organizations in understanding the key decisions about their businesses, particularly as they relate to the people model of the firm.(ii)

We look out over the next 5–10 years, a period that represents an important time horizon for organizations and individuals to better face the coming realities, identify the inherent risks, and develop strategic and tactical plans to mitigate them.

Inputs to the report include:

  • 3,800+ respondents to a global survey of CFA Institute members and candidates regarding their career paths, career management, and expectations of the industry and their employers. The exhibits with these findings are noted in green.
  • 130+ respondents to a global survey of industry leaders on trends regarding the world of work in investment management. The exhibits with these findings are noted in blue.
  • 100+ participants in industry roundtables and individual interviews, including investment professionals, human resources and learning and development professionals, university program faculty, and executive recruiters.
  • Insights from desk research and research captured in previous CFA Institute Future of Finance publications—notably, Future State of the Investment Profession (CFA Institute 2017a) and Investment Firm of the Future (CFA Institute 2018b).


Differentiated stories about possible future pathways and states in the investment industry and the wider world. They are not point estimates or forecasts; as relevant stories, they help firms prepare for the future.


Descriptions of the current and future state of industry-specific issues. They help firms with understanding the key details of the evolving landscape in the next 5–10 years. They follow from the scenarios.

The Use of Scenarios and Narratives

By understanding how current trends may affect professional roles, investment professionals can seek out the skills that will be needed to advance their careers. As shown in Exhibit 1, this report is the third in a series that began with Future State of the Investment Profession in 2017, which examines the scenarios influencing the investment industry, and was followed by Investment Firm of the Future in 2018, which unpacks the investment firm into its component parts and introduces narratives to describe how firms must adapt their businesses to succeed against the backdrop of these scenarios. Investment Professional of the Future completes this arc of research by examining the skills and career paths of professionals in this future environment, as well as the organizational context shaping the evolution of professional roles.

The result of these scenarios and narratives is a very competitive jobs environment because the activities of investment professionals are changing and more skills are expected from individuals.

It is into this context that we look at the change factors for investment professionals. Leaders must find ways to fill skill gaps, build effective teams, support on-the-job learning, and foster an environment and a culture that can help professionals achieve both client objectives and organizational goals.

Exhibit 1
Infographic shows four scenarios impacting the industry, including: fintech disruption; Parallel Worlds - meaning that different demographics engage differently with financial services so customization is useful: Lower for Longer, which is about what happens in a period of sustained low interest rates and returns; and Purposeful Capitalism, which envisions a more ethical investment industry. These scenarios are then applied to the functional areas of a firm, and finally inform the Investment Professional of the Future.