There's been some positive news with several countries stating that they are easing the lockdown measures resulting from COVID-19. While this is welcome, we are certainly not out of the woods yet as experts have indicated that we may face continued movement restrictions until we have a vaccine - potentially H2 of 2021.
Most asset managers are just catching their breath after a few challenging weeks as they ensured their BAU ‘machinery’ continued to function in turbulent market conditions. Regardless, I anticipate that homeworking arrangements are now established, with firms considering reigniting strategic initiatives. Continued focus is required on those that will have an adverse impact to the P&L if delivery dates were to be significantly extended or if such initiatives were halted altogether.
There will naturally be an element of project re-prioritisation depending on their importance and impact to firms. External assistance in delivering such initiatives will still be vital as it provides firms with immediate access to specialist knowledge and experience. If you are looking for external assistance, then you may also want to factor in the following in your decision making:
- Seek practitioners with experience - this will likely result in cost efficiencies.
- The relationship should not be transactional - working in partnership will allow a better understanding of your business model and a more efficient delivery.
- Consider adaptability and responsiveness - this is always important and especially in the current climate.
- Value for money is key. Identify how this can be achieved i.e. breadth of experience, industry insight and ability to self-manage.
In a recent interview with the Investment Week, Keith Skeoch (CEO at Standard Life Aberdeen) stated his expectation on the added focus on responsible investment whereby asset managers will look to support firms with good long-term prospects. Likewise, I also expect that long-term investors in asset management firms will be looking for the same.
Clearly stewardship in current times is vital so firms that decide to suspend strategic projects should consider their long-term competitive standing when making such decisions. There’s a lot for Boards to consider and it is important that the right decisions are made.