The future of work in the investment industry


The CFA Institute has released the fourth report in its “Future of Work” series, exploring the context, culture and content of working in the investment industry.

The report, “The Future of Work in Investment Management: The Future of Skills and Learning”, posits that the fundamental purpose of finance is to contribute to society by enabling the creation of wealth and increasing the welfare of society. It also highlights the current gaps between the supply and demand of skills in the investment industry, examines learning trends and proposes changes for investment teams to better leverage the diversity of talent and the combined power of discrete but complementary skills.

The Future of Work series uses quantitative responses from a combined group of over 11,000 investment professionals worldwide across three surveys, 41 investment organizations representing over 230,000 employees and over 100 professionals investment and human resources in the investment management sector.

The next generation

As competition for talent has intensified across multiple industries, the report begins by analyzing the pipeline of investment professionals, including how students perceive finance as a degree program and the attractiveness of finance as a career.

Overall, finance remains an attractive field, with 80% of accounting or finance students saying they believe their career prospects are as good or better than those of their parents’ generation, the report says. Among CFA Level I applicants, the most common undergraduate studies are finance (38%), economics (15%) and business (15%), while STEM subjects (science, technology , engineering and mathematics) increased to 14%.

Continued interest in finance bodes well for the future of the industry, although investment professionals have varied backgrounds and many organizations are beginning to hire those who leave school before they have graduated, the report notes.

The pandemic has caused noticeable disruption for those in the pipeline, including a shift in candidate demographics, the report said. The loss of one year of CFA exam availability between 2020 and 2021 means that the average age of candidates entering the CFA program, which has been on a downward trend, has increased in 2022.

Additionally, the gender gap among candidates widened in 2021, reversing a multi-year trend and highlighting how women have disproportionately felt the effects of the pandemic, the report said. This led to a candidate ratio of 60% male and 40% female.

The future of investment roles

With 37% of CFA Institute members believing their role will be significantly different in the next five to 10 years, the report examines the type of roles investment professionals have, as well as the extent to which those roles are expected to change and why.

Fintech and information technology (63%) were the roles most likely to change over the next 10 years, with 9% saying they expect their role won’t exist in the same way in the future. future, the report says. This is followed by traders (56%), sales (48%), accountants/auditors (47%) and investment managers (45%).

Most expect certain roles to be disrupted by the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the report says. Some also cited the integration of sustainability considerations into investments and the changing regulatory landscape.

The report mapped the career progression of CFA Institute members and found that the most common job transition is from analyst to portfolio manager to CIO. Career paths are diversifying, mainly influenced by the technology sector via fintech and entrepreneurs, notably private equity boutiques.

Skills for Success

The CFA Institute uses a competency model from the Professional Competency Framework to help identify the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics needed to perform a job well, the report says. In a dynamic field like investing, where the skills needed for mastery often change, it is important to differentiate between the minimum fundamentals required.

Hard skills are most important at the start of a career, with soft skills, leadership skills and ‘T’ skills becoming more important over time, the report says. T-shaped skills are a combination of deep knowledge in a single domain and broader knowledge in other domains and the ability to connect them.

According to the report, the most important category of soft skills is influencing, persuading and negotiating. Some of the skills that have become more important in the new world of work are more effective time management; be effective in influencing, persuading and negotiating; direct communication; and be smarter.


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