Asset managers overlook culture as a competitive edge

Only a small proportion of asset managers have measured and actively manage their own culture, according to a research paper by Willis Towers Watson’s Thinking Ahead Institute (TAI).

The paper The asset manager of tomorrow suggested successful firms recognised culture would be central to the attraction and retention of talent, motivation and value creation.

Roger Urwin, global head of investment content at TAI, said culture was a big differentiator in determining the successful asset management firms of the future.

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“Many firms are so hard-wired to the use of precise measurement that they omit culture altogether in their strategy, treating it as a non-controllable item,” Urwin said.

“The dangers of this are particularly apparent when organisations confront growth and disruptive changes, as these put even effective cultures into reverse.

“In these situations, it is only with considerable increases in the leadership energy and focus applied to culture that you can maintain its quality and consistency.”

The paper made the case diversity and inclusion were derived both from a business case and a cultural case and highlighted two other attributes of effective culture:

  • Cultural embedded in behaviours – leaders actively promote and manage culture, staff actively live out and experience culture; and
  • Culture synchronised with vision and strategy – organisation need clear linkages between these elements.

It also highlighted too many asset managers are erroneously focused on short-term planning and fail to support long-term value. There was also the need to adapt to potential disruptions that challenge the industry, as well as opening up to innovation.

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