In most asset management firms today, it’s common to see highly compensated employees doing low value-added, even menial tasks. And it’s not just top people being asked to handle low-level tasks once in a while, it’s all the time. In fact, it’s the new norm. This isn’t only inefficient, it’s a waste of assets. It’s like asking your ace pitcher to field batting practice in the minors.
This misalignment of capabilities to tasks is not only an enormous waste of brain power, it’s an opportunity cost that is growing bigger for firms as the economy continues to improve.
How did asset managers get here? During the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed, asset managers moved quickly to rein in their operations, implementing austerity measures that included major reductions in headcount. At four firms alone (Merrill, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citi), job losses totaled more than 182,000.
As always with layoffs, firms focused on keeping their “A” players. Marginal performers were shown the door. With smaller teams of their smartest and most talented employees, firms hunkered down to weather the storm. And the belt tightening largely worked; most firms survived. At those same firms today, these bare-bone teams are still doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
Extra-lean staffing made sense during the recession, but not so much today. With the economy recovering, new business opportunities are popping up everywhere. To capitalize on them, firms need their best people at the forefront of their businesses. Firms can’t expect to win and grow if their best and brightest are continually bogged down with things like putting together pitch books, manually updating fund fact sheets, or chasing down the right compliance notices to drop into PowerPoint presentations.
But how can firms free up their best people? Hiring lots of new staff isn’t the answer. Most firms no longer have that luxury.
The answer is that asset managers have to scale their operations. They need to do more, and do it more effectively, with their existing staff. The smartest and most effective way to achieve this goal is with technology that automates many of the mundane and repetitive steps in asset managers’ business processes. The right automation system lets a firm do things like:
- Automatically feed new data (investment performance, ratings, etc.) into fund fact sheets as soon as it becomes available
- Tap into pre-approved and context-driven content to build custom pitch books in hours, not days
- Make finding and accessing collateral materials quick and easy for any staff member, partner or advisors
- End the compliance guessing game by automatically including the correct compliance notices in any deliverable
Today’s market is a different ballgame. To edge out competitors and capitalize on opportunities, firms need to scale their operations and have their A players on the field. Automation systems provide the best game plan.