Q4 continued the slow and disorderly implementation of Brexit. Against this backdrop, Investment Managers increasingly focused on their product offerings and explored new distribution strategies, in an effort to address how they can trade most effectively in this new landscape. Many Investment Managers have also attempted to determine the fate and viability of particular investment products in event of a ‘hard’ Brexit.
Investment surveys conducted in December saw the UK Equity Fund worth £367 million to be rated the top performing fund of the quarter; while Fixed Income held up well against equities. Two funds from T. Rowe Price came in second and third, with its US Large Cap Growth Equity and US Blue Chip Equity funds returning 9.3% and 8.3% respectively. These findings correlate to client requirements, as we have noted individuals with a strong Fixed Income and Private Equity fund knowledge have been particularly in demand.
We noted an uplift in senior and strategic sales positions coming to the market, both UK centric with a regional focus and across broader EMEA remits. We have also seen consistent demand for European languages, and strong European regulatory knowledge to target new audiences abroad. The political, social and economic environment of the UK will place new demands on marketing content, strategic thought leadership pieces. It may be difficult to qualify the ever-changing external environment from the minds of investors, but what we do know is that ‘fund messaging’ will become extremely fundamental to investment performance for 2019. It seems social media and data science research will continue to propel the marketing message to new heights.
Diversity in investment management has also been a continued focus. The Equileap annual ‘Gender Equality Global Report and Ranking’ research released in October outlined the four leading global financial services firms for gender – Westpac, Swedbank, National Australia Bank, and JP Morgan & Chase. It is clear that the road to achieving diversity is long, but asset managers have recognised that diverse leadership results in better investment decisions, with moves to implement in-house gender diversity voting decisions.
In Q4 we witnessed growth across most functions of Marketing; however, the need for skilled Marketing Executives remained the most active. These skilled
roles vary from channel specific coverage (retail, institutional) to an increasing demand for an additional European language. As industry product offering grows, the need for strong, technical Investment Writers remains one of the most challenging, yet sought after skillsets. RFP Writers across all levels also remain in demand both on a permanent and temporary basis. Mid-Senior level RFP writers are most desired, however, we have seen demand for junior RFP writers as asset managers focus on internal talent pipelining to ensure longer term retention.
We saw a rise in Regional Sales Manager hires towards the end of Q4, predominantly across the South West and North East, as Asset Managers appear to be keen to bulk up their Regional teams in order to present new sales ideas and campaigns and forge long term businesses partnerships.
We anticipate Q1 2019 will be turbulent, with the culmination of Brexit amongst other macro events affecting the economy. This can be accredited to a number of factors with Kristina Hooper, Chief Global Market Strategist at Invesco, identifying high levels of debt, protectionism and monetary policy as potentially disrupting the growth of the economy. This uncertainty may reduce the ability of firms to grow in multiple areas, including Sales and Marketing. However, this will depend on whether some certainty is gained in the Brexit negotiations. There may also be reason to expect growth with the cooling of the trade war between the US and China. As Akiyoshi Nagashima, CIO of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management recently stated “It will improve market sentiment and undoubtedly provide an opportunity for investors”, allowing for economic growth and heightened Sales and Marketing efforts. We expect the focus on Public Relations and Communications Strategists to continue as firms look to best inform investors and the public of their position during such volatile times. We also believe the presence of ESG funds presence will continue to grow which will see firms looking to not only acquire specialist Portfolio Managers, but also specialist Investment writers. Throughout Q4 ESG funds continued to enter the mainstream. We anticipate their presence will only grow during 2019, and firms will look to not only acquire specialist Portfolio Managers, but also specialist Investment writers.
We were delighted to have such a good turn out to our recent breakfast seminar ‘Does a Diverse Sales Team Increase Revenue?” in which we were joined by an excellent panel: Selina Tyler (Head of UK Wholesale) at Mirabaud, Scott Stevens (Head of Sales and Marketing) at Quilter Cheviot, Sally Todd (President) at City Women’s Network and our facilitator Geraldine Gallacher (Managing Director) at the Executive Coaching Consultancy.
We organise several panel events throughout the year. Our aim is to ensure that the subject matter is always timely and relevant and the speakers are experts in their fields. In this instance, we also carried out our own study using data from our clients, candidates and our extensive database.
We explored some of the following: What Proportion of Your Sales Team Is Female? Why do we think there is a drop out rate from Sales Support? Where are they going? What was the impact of having a Diverse Sales team on sales revenue? How many women and men are there in Sales & Marketing positions and why is this? Do you think men are inherently better suited to sales?
This sparked some interesting debate for our panel.