Technology Project Starts Set to Soar in 2017 as Asset Managers Adapt to Evolving Regulatory and Client Demands

15 November 2016

52% of asset managers plan to replace out-dated technology systems in the next 12 months

65% of firms claim regulation is the biggest driver of industry change

Results of a new survey reveal that technological and operational projects are high on the list of priorities for asset managers over the next 12 months as they respond to the changing regulatory landscape and to meet the evolving needs of their clients. The report, which is being launched at the TSAM Boston conference taking place tomorrow, reveals that over half (52%) of asset management companies surveyed are planning to replace out-dated or legacy technologies in the next 12 months.

One in three companies (32%) are also planning to introduce an online client reporting portal for the first time and 14% are looking to launch a mobile app as they look to improve the quality, timeliness and transparency of communications with their clients. Meeting changing client demands was identified as one of the key drivers of change in the asset management industry over the next five years by a quarter (27%) of the poll respondents. Data governance initiatives (31%) and outsourcing of technology operations (29%) are also both high on the list of priorities for asset managers over the next 12 months.

The survey, by Osney Media and BackBay Communications, highlighted a number of factors that are driving change in the industry, with regulation seen as chief among them. Adapting to regulatory change was cited as a key driver of change by nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents. Pressure on margin and costs was cited by nearly half (48%), while the rise of passive investing was identified by 39%.

Despite the broad range of challenges facing the industry, many respondents are cautious in their expectations for radical transformation of the industry over the next five years with a quarter (25%) believing that it will not look very different to now. This compares to just 13% that expect the industry to look radically different. Furthermore, while the competitive threats from non-traditional competitors is acknowledged, the majority, 61%, believe that their main competitive set will be the same in five years as it is now. Against this backdrop, it is perhaps unsurprising that the majority are optimistic about their firm’s ability to meet these challenges with 76% describing themselves as either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ optimistic.

“The asset management industry faces a number of challenges: growth in passive investment is putting traditional fee structures and margins under pressure, expectations and behaviour of clients are evolving and of course the regulatory environment continues to change,” said Jonathan Wiser, Director at Osney Media, which commissioned the study and organizes TSAM Boston. “We are expecting to see an increase in organizational and technological change projects getting underway in the next 12 months as firms look to adapt to these shifting sands.”

Bill Haynes, CEO and founder of BackBay Communications, the financial services marketing and communications consultancy that conducted the research, said: “One of the most important parts of managing operational or technological change projects is communications. Some projects can impact employees and external stakeholders in ways you might never have imagined and can take a long time to implement. Communicating the goals of a project and setting, measuring and keeping affected stakeholders updated with its progress is an essential component of any implementation.”

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