It’s been hard to escape the media coverage of the “big quit” or the “great resignation” (no one can agree on the operative term) since the pandemic began. As it pertains to the asset management industry, a more apt term would be the “Great Reshuffle.” Are we seeing a lot of movement in our space? Unequivocally yes! Talent acquisition and retention is certainly at a premium right now and a central focus of most every discussion we are having both internally and with our client and prospects. The question that firms of all shapes and sizes need to address is what is at the heart of this reshuffling.
To say that compensation is the crux of resource shifting is short-sighted. While we are not naïve to the point of thinking that talented practitioners in our industry are moving from one firm to the next and taking pay cuts in favor of culture and promises of work/life balance, there is certainly more to the current talent movement than comp. To wit, Citisoft has grown more than 20% dating back to March 2020, with compensation increases undoubtedly a factor; however, we would like to think that our growth success takes a variety of other factors into account.
We first discussed work/life balance in a millennial-themed blog way back in 2015. It admittedly had a bit of a cynical tone. Our industry has always had a bit of a challenge selling the allure of remote work, flexible scheduling, and the like. Whether you’re a senior leader at a global asset manager or a consultant, long hours and travel has always been part of the game, so while culture has always been important, promising work/life balance and delivering upon that promise has historically been quite elusive…seemingly until now.
Asset management firms, consulting companies, and their respective workforce are all undergoing a bit of a pandemic epiphany. Demand for skilled and experienced resources has never been higher and is far outstripping supply. Workers are in the driver’s seat and have had the time and space (pandemic induced, of course) to take stock of their careers and what really matters to them. Asset management firms are re-evaluating what a typical work week will look like once the pandemic finally subsides.
For their part, consulting firms are moving off their 80% travel requirements given the relative success of virtual projects and the realization that our clients can save 10-15% off their project costs with limited to no travel. If your approach as an employer is to mandate a Monday to Friday in-person when normalcy returns, good luck to you. Travel will still be part of the game, as it will always be important to maintain an in-person presence and cultivate relationships, but it will simply not be an everyday occurrence.
The fact is that everyone should be taking a proverbial step back right now and reassessing their approach to talent. Resources across our industry are jumping to where they get a more personalized experience and feel they can make a true impact; in countless cases they are leaving behind the big “machines” to work for firms where they are enabled to drive and enable change. It has always been about the people; they are your single biggest asset, and if you don’t continuously cultivate and innovate around culture, benefits, and the like, you’ll be on wrong end of the talent war that has no end in sight.