Seeking Data and Tech Specialists, No Asset Mgmt Experience Necessary


FundFire | September 22, 2020

The FundFire article, “Seeking Data and Tech Specialists, No Asset Mgmt Experience Necessary," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Chris Davis on the types of tech leaders the asset management industry should be looking for. The article is excerpted below.

Asset managers are looking to strengthen institutional sales teams by hiring candidates with a technical background and not necessarily a history of asset management experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many institutional sales teams to work remotely, has accelerated the need for technology and data specialists to generate sales leads and construct complex strategies for clients.

The pandemic has largely ended debates about whether an asset manager should invest in emerging technology roles and data or infrastructure functions, says Chris Davis , co-leader of Russell Reynolds Associates ' global fintech practice. Selling complex strategies to institutional clients requires a lot of research that is now being collected by more automated processes, and that is all supported by technology, he explains.

“[The need for technology], it's creating new roles, and it's kind of exciting because some of it is actually about creating efficiencies in existing processes, and some of it is actually about entirely new ways of working and new go-to approaches," Davis says.

These next generation technology leaders, like heads of emerging technology who support institutional sales efforts, should understand cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation, he says. They should also be great leaders, a change agent that can start working with the institutional sales group and drive new behavior, he says.

“The ability to challenge convention really comes down to leadership," Davis says. “Therein lies a really difficult trade off because on the one hand, it's pretty useful for these tech leaders to understand the domain. At the same time, traditionally, you haven't always found the best emerging tech leaders in institutional investment environments."

Hiring technical specialists to aid institutional sales from outside the asset management industry could sometimes lead to a culture clash, but assessing candidates based on soft references and psychometric assessments can help determine whether someone will be a good fit, Davis says.

“If you could just take some of that DNA [from outside the asset management sector] and bring it onboard and teach them the business side, it might really be worth making that kind of bet," Davis says.

To read the full article, click here.

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Seeking Data and Tech Specialists, No Asset Mgmt Experience Necessary