10 Defining Themes For The Future Of Wealth Management
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10 Defining Themes For The Future Of Wealth Management

A list of new commandments for money management.

By Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management
Tue, May 18, 2021 11:19amGrey Clock 4 min

J. Pierpont Morgan would be proud that many of the historical tenets of the asset- and wealth-management industry still form the bedrock of how money is managed in modern times. The fund’s 150-year track record is a testament to our industry’s founding principle: While the world may change, clients’ desire for investment expertise and personalised service won’t.

With that in mind, here are 10 key themes that we look forward to helping our clients navigate in the future.

1) Price. Ever since I entered the asset-management industry, sceptics have warned that fee pressure will destroy profitability and detract top talent from the profession. Fees in every industry compress at some point. Successful firms of the future will thrive by either providing commodity-like products at scale for near-zero cost, or delivering hard-to-access insights and exposures that command a premium. Our industry must strive for continuous improvement on both ends of the spectrum.

2) Scale is a matter of survival. With compressed pricing, heavy regulatory controls, and immense spend on data, analytics, and risk-management tools, firms need a relentless focus on operational efficiency, a rigorous control framework, and a disciplined prioritization process around investments for the future. In this context, scale is key. Mergers and acquisitions and outsourcing of sub-scale and noncore capabilities to service providers will enable smaller firms to refocus their efforts back into their most important asset: talent.

3) Actively advising clients. If we learned anything from the Covid-19 crisis, it is the need for sound advice in volatile times. During that time, thousands of actively managed funds outperformed their passive alternatives across asset classes and portfolios. While markets may be efficient, manager selection is key and clients need guidance. The average industry return of a balanced portfolio over the past two decades was 6.4% annually, while the actual experience of the average retail investor was only 2.9%, a stark reminder of how critical hands-on advice is.

4) Impact and purpose. Portfolio managers and research analysts have become essential for investors seeking to make an impact in the world through their assets. Over 80% of surveyed CIOs expressed intent to invest in environmentally and socially conscious companies. Analyzing CEOs and their management teams is no longer just about inquiring about their financial and operational expertise and vision, but also about the impact they make on their communities and the planet. Rising demand for companies that drive positive change will create a virtuous cycle of asset allocation for good.

5) Personalization. Today’s investors want to be intentional, not passive, in investing. They care about taxes and want to overweight companies that can make a difference. They want to avoid whole sectors, or actively own and vote on a company’s strategic plans. Giving clients the freedom to pursue their very specific objectives in a highly customized manner will continue to drive innovation in our industry.

6) Stable and predictable incomes. Millions of investors around the world have come to rely on their investment portfolios as a stable source of income. With individuals enjoying longer life spans and more active lifestyles, especially during retirement years, asset managers need to adapt their strategies to provide for a stable and predictable flow of income every month. Along the same lines, saving needs to start at a young age. Today, less than 40% of Americans have enough savings to pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense in cash. It is our collective responsibility to educate and advise on what is required to cover all of life’s events and milestones.

7) Understanding China. The pandemic has highlighted the interconnectivity of the world and how important China is to supply chains and new innovations. Against this backdrop, it is irresponsible to be a fiduciary of client capital and not have a deep understanding of places like China. It is hard to imagine having a true grasp of competitive global forces without on-the-ground insights of the economies, cultures, and politics of re-emerging global marketplaces. After 100 years of being on the ground in China, J.P. Morgan is poised to become the first foreign asset manager to acquire full ownership of a Chinese fund manager, pending regulatory approval. That kind of commitment will contribute massively to our global research network.

8) Technology drives everything. To adapt to the velocity of progress and change, technology is providing our industry access, speed, and agility like never before. With more technologists than Google and Facebook combined, J.P. Morgan invests over $12 billion annually in technology to help empower our clients and employees to work faster and more seamlessly in ever-changing markets. We need to be forward thinking and have the ability to be a disruptor. Agile, collaborative partnerships between technologists and their businesses will drive innovation and speed to market at an exponential pace.

9) Access. With a global footprint and a full suite of investment vehicles, asset managers must continue to focus on enabling first-time investors to invest in previously inaccessible areas. We are finding ways to provide more opportunities, more choice, and more power to people. Investments once only available to the largest investors in the world are now being accessed by the everyday investor. Democratization of markets should create better outcomes for investors of all sizes.

10) A new flexibility. Our industry adapted quite seamlessly to a previously unimaginable work-from-home scenario. As such, increased flexibility will broaden talent pools and should promote greater diversity. While never losing the apprenticeship nature of our business, we should continue to find new ways of working with one another to generate even greater success.

In coming years, the industry’s winners will remain obsessed about their fiduciary responsibilities. As stewards of capital, the ability to leverage technology and scale to deliver the same extraordinary experience for every investor, with $100 or $100 million, is now within reach.

Reprinted by permission of Barron’s. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 14, 2021.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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