Deloitte’s Investment Management CFO Symposium

Shaping decisions through data

In June, the 2018 Investment Management CFO Symposium brought some of the industry’s leading executives together to discuss what drives their success in dealing with today’s key challenges. Embracing talent and using data to support innovation and exceptional client service topped the list.

speaker an investment management symposium

Cautious optimism: 2018 Performance Intelligence Survey

A highlight of the opening sessions of the Symposium was the presentation of results from the CaseyQuirk/McLagan 2018 Performance Intelligence Survey. For investment management firms, strong performance in 2017 reflected the most positive year in the industry since before the global financial crisis.

While net-new flows were positive, most asset growth came from market appreciation—while fees continued to slide and costs continued to rise. Beneath the surface, many downward trends showed deep and persistent roots. Seventy percent of those surveyed believe the industry will generate organic growth of less than 3 percent in the coming year, but many believe their own firms will grow at greater than 3 percent. The majority—91 percent—predict their own margins will be flat or rise next year.

Fee pressures are forcing many firms to hone in on curating the right mix of assets to attract and retain clients. One firm with a fixed asset focus moved to more actively managed strategies such as private debt. “It’s what clients expect of us,” said their CFO, “That’s how you defend your fees.”

Staying close to the customer and delivering on their needs was a dominant theme over the course of the Symposium. The survey results reflect that fee pressure is not hitting all products and areas equally. According to Jeffrey Levi, principal at Casey Quirk by Deloitte, “We’re seeing that winners are starting to separate.” The ability to realize premium fees and deliver a better client experience were two of seven factors identified in the 2018 survey as distinguishing factors of firms that were able to grow profitably over the past year. Interestingly, firm size did not seem to matter—delivering a good product and serving the customer helps to level the playing field.

The current climate for investment management firms

Technology, talent, and the future of work

Investment management firms are embracing technology and the right talent is helping them to make the most of it. Automation, artificial intelligence, and cognitive technologies require firms to reinvent worker roles. While technology is augmenting the value of many jobs, tech-savvy employees are crucial to driving transformation and delivering on the promise of these digital technologies.

Yet many firms are finding it tough to compete for data scientists and younger talent with digital skills. Leaders are being challenged to adopt a talent mindset, adding or rewarding talent to meet their strategic objectives. One of the challenges that need to be overcome is that the investment management industry is no longer perceived as a growth industry; as a result, some CFOs view investing in technology as critical to attracting and retaining top talent.

Ensuring inclusion and equitable treatment is emerging as a key objective. A survey by the Knight Foundation showed that only 1.1 percent of total assets under management in the US are managed by firms owned by women and minorities. Yet, another study of investment performance conducted by Morningstar concluded that an investor who picked a fund solely on the basis of the manager’s gender could see better results with an all-female team in both equity and fixed income classes.

While many firms are working actively to correct discrimination, Kamilah Smith, manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP, urged investment firms to collect targeted workforce data to help in equalizing perceptions of women and minorities. Said one symposium panelist, “It’s a complex problem and it’s tough to track, but we see a lot of opportunity emerging for women and minorities over the next 10 years.”

Technology is everywhere and businesses have to be certain they can keep up.

—Margie Painter, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Four qualities of “real” innovators

Innovators tend to do four things well, according to Larry Keeley, managing director of Deloitte Consulting LLP and adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management:

  1. Focus on a smaller number of big ideas.
  2. Install signature innovation methods that drive efficiency.
  3. Balance improving the known with inventing new businesses.
  4. Recognize that integrated ecosystems beat standalone firms every time.
Larry Keely at investment management symposium

Finance 2025

Over the past year, Deloitte specialists have put together seven predictions for 2025 that will impact CFOs as they develop strategies for the future. These predictions were inspired by a simple question: “What would it look like if everything that companies are doing today on a piecemeal basis was brought together?” Here’s what they found:

  • Automation and blockchain have streamlined transaction processing, and as more transactions become touchless, humans will be able to add greater value.
  • Automated operations allow the finance department to focus on delivering business insights and service.
  • Finance goes real-time, with less emphasis on monthly reporting.
  • Self-service for clients will accelerate.
  • New service delivery models will emerge as robots and algorithms join a more diverse workforce.
  • Finance applications and microservices will challenge the traditional ERP, and vendors are ready with new offerings.
  • Application programming interfaces will drive standardization, but companies will be struggling to clean up their data messes.

New technologies, like automation and blockchain, will augment the workforce in investment management and spur new service delivery models and deeper insights into the business.

What’s next?

Investment managers have always walked a fine line as they balance risk and reward. Today, their success depends upon allocating resources between technology and talent in pursuit of high performance. Balancing this interdependency will be a focal point for CFOs for years to come.


Kathleen Pomento

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Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

Vice Chairman | Investment Management Practice

Patrick is a Deloitte vice chairman and leads the investment management practice in the United States. Patrick oversees all of Deloitte’s services provided to mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity... More

Kevin Quirk

Kevin Quirk

Principal | Casey Quirk by Deloitte

Kevin, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP in the Casey Quirk by Deloitte practice, has more than 25 years of experience in the asset and wealth management industry. He oversees many key client r... More