How can organisations help investment managers get better at their jobs post-Covid?

Wednesday 20th January 2021 Penny Pryor

Covid-19 has drastically changed the investment management landscape in Australia and globally. In addition to continuous professional development requirements, investment managers, and their employers, need to be looking at improving skills in a completely new light.

Cathy Doyle

Cathy Doyle is chair of SR Network, which includes SuperRecruiters, SR Consult and SR Research. She says due to Covid-19 restrictions around both international and domestic travel, organisations need to understand that the talent they currently have is maybe the best they’re going to get for the next 12 to 18 months.

“So, think about redeploying or redeveloping,” she says.

“Otherwise, somebody is already thinking about poaching them.”

Helping crazy ideas

Organisations need to be putting their most innovative crazy idea thinkers onto the biggest problems but also, when it comes to training, they need to be teaching all employees how to think differently when it comes to problem solving.

Doyle suggests tried and tested tools such as Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – a model which helps teams problem solve by considering six different ways of looking at a problem.

“Don’t just throw learning at them and expect to get a different answer…encourage them to actively utilise skills,” she says.

“You’ve got to force them into a different space.”

Investment managers who are also team leaders have borne the burden of Covid in a different way. Many are suffering from Zoom fatigue and struggling to manage employees who are very much enjoying not having to go into work each day.

“The forgotten group I still think are the leaders,” Doyle says.

Leaders need help encouraging team members back to offices and creating a reason for them to do so which moves beyond “presenteeism”.

The creativity dividend

At Martin Currie Australia, head of equity research, Michael Slack, says that in addition to requirements for completing relevant technical training in finance and funds management, Martin Currie has been working with an external consultant to help the organisation look at creative ways of changing behaviours and improving productivity. This might be as simple as time awareness in meetings, but it can have a big impact on productivity over time.

“Our team has been working together for quite some time and it’s good to refresh these kind of things,” Slack says.

“It’s about establishing the right learning mindset … we make our decisions much clearer to understand.”

This approach stood them particularly well during 2020 as Covid-19 impacts hit the market.

“We’ve got a much clearer sense of why we own particular companies now,” he says.

“We’re a value shop so valuation is important to us but so is the story or insight to our valuation being different form the price. This has enabled us to isolate that insight and do it in a very efficient way.”

Over the next 12 months Slack will be completing a training module for his team that he initiated pre-Covid. The module is designed to identify key employee competencies to help them understand which training opportunities would serve them best.

“The technical side and the updating of the technical skill is done through the CPD and then there is this more nuanced stuff around leadership, teamwork and team efficiency that we will try and formalise this year,” he says.

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