Custodians of Progress

Asset management isn’t about personal wealth creation anymore.

As a new generation comes to terms with its relationship to money, asset management will continue to be one of the most important and most turbulent industries in the world. There will be more participants—with more assets—entering the market than at any time in history. These participants will demand creative and innovative solutions to challenges more pressing than personal wealth creation. Through the market they’ll transform energy, they’ll save the planet while taking us to new ones, and they’ll extend human life and happiness for billions of people.

Progress requires prosperity. And asset managers will need to embrace their role as custodians of progress. This will put pressure on their traditional profit centers as many investors now understand the limited value of high-priced stock-pickers. Instead, they’re looking for creative problem-solvers to address a broader range of challenges. Asset managers will need to offer a portfolio of solutions that meet this need, while providing the transparency, tools, and experiences that allow their investors to self-actualize, empowering them to use their means to realize the change they want to see in their lives, and in the world at large.

“Progress requires prosperity. And asset managers will need to embrace their role as custodians of progress.”

The project here is monumental. It’s exciting and promising. It’s empowering and equalizing. The difficulty will be in rending the traditional culture and attitudes within financial services institutions to the ground, along with its legacy, pre-dialup infrastructure. The guidance that asset managers provide will need to be perfectly married to digital goods and services that embrace the culture of DIY investing among individuals, and one of “do no harm” among institutions. Regulators, as well as individual and institutional investors, are leaving asset managers with no place to hide. Transparency and technology will define the next-generation asset manager.

The good news is that modern platforms have solved the need for speed to market and security at scale. The problem is that these platforms are rarely used by asset managers. Too many are looking to legacy technology providers to deliver transformational experiences. These legacy platforms, however, are painfully slow to integrate into modern experiences, and once you do, there’s no path to faster innovation downstream. It’s the same grind every time. This is an untenable model as the next-generation asset manager will need to take a digital-first approach to expanding their portfolio. Speed and creativity will become the terms on which they compete. Legacy platforms, however, will kill them both.

“Over the next decade, few industries will have the impact that asset management will have on the world.”

Instead of looking for help from legacy partners, asset managers need to take a hard turn toward the future. They need the solutions that are powering innovation in other industries. They need modern cloud applications purpose-built for their industry. They need high-performing, flexible technology—secure, scalable, and compliant out of the box—that allows them to innovate faster. It’s these platforms, designed around the regulatory requirements of the industry, that will serve as the foundation for the future of asset management.

Over the next decade, few industries will have the impact that asset management will have on the world. New countries, new participants, and new attitudes toward investing are emerging. Many, quite literally, will be looking to solve the world’s problems through the market. They’ll invest in companies and causes that reflect their values. And they’ll have an extremely high standard for the digital conveniences and creative partnerships that will allow them to make their impact.

Asset managers need a new approach. Instead of looking for fees to mimic the return of the market, they need to create value through the experiences, innovation, and solutions that allow investors to improve the world around them. They need to be custodians of progress, driven by technology and committed to transparency.

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