Investment Professionals Seek Greater Flexibility and Hybrid Workplaces, Say CFA Institute Members in New Study; Employees’ Mental Health a Top Concern for Employers

COVID-19 has accelerated workplace disruption and innovation according to “Future of Work in Investment Management” report

New York City, United States 26 May 2021

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, has released the first report in a four-part research study examining the changes that investment organizations and professionals are likely to adopt post-pandemic, influenced by three critical elements: the context of careers, the content of work, and the culture of organizations.

In the report, The Future of Work in Investment Management, workplace transformation is evaluated through the lens of the “what, where, and how” of work, underscoring how evolution across these factors is happening in tandem and at a rapid pace. The report explores not only how the pandemic has impacted individuals’ attitudes toward their workplace environment, but also the real-world implications for employers’ business models and structures.

“We find ourselves at the intersection of return to the workplace and the future of work, where the multi-layered challenges we’ve faced as organizations and individuals over the course of the pandemic have now become opportunities to transform the way that we work going forward,” said Margaret Franklin, CFA, President and CEO, CFA Institute. “Within the investment industry, the time is ripe to challenge the norms that have long driven our daily work lives. The way that we work must adapt.”

The findings show that 81 percent of professionals surveyed would like to work remotely at least part of the time, signaling that a hybrid-model workplace is here to stay. While a majority of investment professionals (60 percent) are confident in the ability of leaders to manage teams in a hybrid work environment, there is still concern that it will be more challenging for managers to be effective in a hybrid work environment than in the all-remote work experience. The report also uncovered that leaders’ responses to the stresses of the pandemic will have lasting effects on relationships with employees. The findings include both quantitative and qualitative insights from more than 4,600 investment professionals globally and investment organization leaders representing more than 200,000 employees.

The report further explores the key three themes of workplace transformation:

  • The Context of Careers – Where work gets done: Investment professionals are confident about job security over the next 18-24 months, with 75 percent reporting they believe their job will be secure. Employers are supportive of their workforces’ desire to work remotely, with strong support for remote-work policies jumping from 15 percent pre-pandemic to 77 percent post-pandemic. Overall, investment professionals believe that remote work has increased their efficiency (53 percent). This adaptability applies across roles including those who were thought to be incompatible with remote work, such as chief financial officers and traders. The structure of investment management roles also indicates that they are well suited to a hybrid environment.

  • The Content of Work – What works gets done: Modes of client communication will see significant changes. For example, business travel is expected to be permanently reduced by 25-50 percent. However, investment professionals do recognize that the increased use of technology poses real risks, with 59 percent stating regulators will increase scrutiny of financial technology tools as hybrid models become more widespread. Investment professionals also recognize the need for professional development to further their careers, with nearly all citing that they need to actively develop new skills, though less than half said they receive the support they need from their company in order to do so.

  • The Culture of Organizations – How work gets done: Many investment organization leaders recognized a silver lining of the pandemic, with 59 percent citing that culture has improved because their staff have learned more about their colleagues. Yet, 100 percent of investment organization leaders reported that mental health issues were a top concern as it relates to their employees, quickly followed by the impact of childcare and eldercare support (cited by 80 percent) on their staff. Investment professionals also reported a shift in what motivates them most at work, with factors such as workplace flexibility and having good team members becoming more important – this could be a direct result of the economic impact and social isolation of the pandemic.

“The future of an investment professional’s career looks quite different today than it did even two years ago,” said Rhodri Preece, CFA, Senior Head of Industry Research for CFA Institute. “As our lives both inside and outside the office evolve, the onus is on organizations to recognize those changes and adapt to the new environment. As we dig deeper into these topics in our subsequent research, we anticipate the findings will inform transformative actions for investment management organizations that are prepared to support their employees into the future.”

The Future of Work in Investment Management will continue to be explored throughout a series of reports to be released throughout 2021.

For further information, please contact pr@cfainstitute.org

Notes to Editors

Methodology

The Future of Work in Investment Management series of reports will be based on quantitative and qualitative input. This first report is primarily based on data collected from CFA Institute members and a select group of investment organizations. A qualitative phase will follow to inform future installments of the series. Contributions to this report included:

  • An Investment Professionals Survey with approximately 4,600 CFA Institute member respondents from 120 markets. The data were collected from March – April 2021.
  • An Investment Organization Leaders Survey of 41 organizations participating in the CFA Institute Experimental Partners Program, primarily located in North America, representing more than 234,000 employees. The data were collected from December 2020 – March 2021.

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 170,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 164 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and there are 161 local member societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFAInstitute and on Facebook.com/CFAInstitute.