The asset management industry is going to change substantially in the coming years. Regulatory and demographic trends have already transformed the sector and the advance of technology is only speeding things up.
During the past decade, the asset management industry was mostly occupied with regulatory changes dictating costly compliance procedures. The increase in regulatory burden was mainly felt by small asset management firms. In addition to increased regulatory costs, fee pressure has had a large impact on the industry as well. In the coming years we believe these two forces will remain top of mind, but they have different drivers now.
Technology has entered the asset management industry. This will add costs because asset managers have to live up to ever-increasing demands of customers, who require immediacy, connectivity and ubiquity in a simple and transparent service offering. At the same time, this leads to an increase in fee pressure due to growing transparency, comparability and competition from non-financial companies. We think the asset management pie is still growing strongly, but not everyone is invited to take a piece.
To incumbents, the control over the customer relationship is at stake. They will have to make a strategic choice between spending on technology to offer satisfactory services to their clients, or losing the customer relation and becoming the very efficient infrastructure to the newcomers from the technology sector.
Next to the broad thematic changes within technology, regulation and demographics we observe some changes that are more specific to the asset management industry. Index funds are gaining popularity and make up almost a third of assets under management in the US. This has led to the separation of alpha and beta, which in turn is impacting fees. Partly due to the low fees and ETF opportunity we also observe a growth in demand for multi-asset solutions and liability-driven-investment solutions.
Next to changing products we also see changing customer profiles. As a result of regulation, low commodity prices and central bank policy we observe a shift from the institutional client towards the retail client. Most asset managers have optimized their sales effort on the institutional side, while retail investors require different methods of engagement. We also think the role of the middle-man (wholesale) will be re-defined in the coming years.
Contrary to doom-thinkers, the odds are not necessarily against traditional asset managers. Demographic trends combined with a diminishing role of governments in pensions and social security bode well in terms of demand for asset management services. By means of incorporating technology, the customer relationship that was built up during many decades can be preserved and new customer groups can be served.
We think the impact on the asset management industry can be summarized as higher costs, lower fees and a battle for the customer relationship. We think the first two impacts will lead to consolidation because scale is essential in this new environment. The customer relationship requires a complete mind shift and perhaps even alliances with the technology sector. Not all asset managers will be able to develop the required skills in-house. Strategic alliances between technology providers and asset managers are very likely, but the stability of those alliances boils down to a prisoner’s dilemma. When both sides cooperate, the payoff for society is largest and the pie is divided efficiently. However, the prospect of a bigger piece of the pie is very tempting to some. Not every asset manager will be able to adapt to this changing mind-set. We look for asset managers with scale, multi-asset solutions and integrated technology. Companies that offer investment advice face a more challenging environment.
This report is not available for users from countries where the offering of foreign financial services is not permitted, such as US Persons.
Your details are not shared with third parties. This information is exclusively intended for professional investors. All requests are checked.
The content displayed on this website is exclusively directed at qualified investors, as defined in the swiss collective investment schemes act of 23 june 2006 ("cisa") and its implementing ordinance, or at “independent asset managers” which meet additional requirements as set out below. Qualified investors are in particular regulated financial intermediaries such as banks, securities dealers, fund management companies and asset managers of collective investment schemes and central banks, regulated insurance companies, public entities and retirement benefits institutions with professional treasury or companies with professional treasury.
The contents, however, are not intended for non-qualified investors. By clicking "I agree" below, you confirm and acknowledge that you act in your capacity as qualified investor pursuant to CISA or as an “independent asset manager” who meets the additional requirements set out hereafter. In the event that you are an "independent asset manager" who meets all the requirements set out in Art. 3 para. 2 let. c) CISA in conjunction with Art. 3 CISO, by clicking "I Agree" below you confirm that you will use the content of this website only for those of your clients which are qualified investors pursuant to CISA.
Representative in Switzerland of the foreign funds registered with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority ("FINMA") for distribution in or from Switzerland to non-qualified investors is Robeco Switzerland AG, Josefstrasse 218, 8005 Zürich, and the paying agent is UBS Switzerland AG, Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zürich. Please consult www.finma.ch for a list of FINMA registered funds.
Neither information nor any opinion expressed on the website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. An investment in a Robeco/Robeco Switzerland AG product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, articles of association, prospectuses, key investor information documents and annual and semi-annual reports, which can be all be obtained free of charge at this website, at the registered seat of the representative in Switzerland, as well as at the Robeco/Robeco Switzerland AG offices in each country where Robeco has a presence. In respect of the funds distributed in Switzerland, the place of performance and jurisdiction is the registered office of the representative in Switzerland.
This website is not directed to any person in any jurisdiction where, by reason of that person's nationality, residence or otherwise, the publication or availability of this website is prohibited. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not access this website.