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The nature of investment professionals’ work, as well as the nature of their motivations, is changing due to the Covid disruption. The resulting opportunities and challenges are outlined in a report from the CFA Institute.

The report, Future of Work in Investment Management, is based on recent industry surveys and establishes that investment jobs were resilient during the pandemic. For example, compensation reductions were small and expected to be temporary.

Of the global CFA Institute members surveyed, only 15% experienced a pay cut related to the pandemic since January 2020, and 53% expected their pay reductions to last no more than one year.

Further, 75% of investment-professional respondents said they’re confident that their jobs will be secure over the next 18 to 24 months.

Respondents were also positive about the shift to remote work, indicating that the future of work in investment management will be a hybrid model of remote and in-office work.

For example, the majority of investment professionals surveyed (81%) said they’d like to work remotely part of the time, and 53% said working remotely increased their efficiency.

In step with those findings, most organizations surveyed (about three-quarters) said their policies will be adapted to support remote and flexible work.

As work moves to a hybrid model, client management models must adapt, the report said.

Looking at industry roles most focused on client interaction, the report found that respondents expected their use of video calls to increase significantly going forward, while their travel would decline.

An associated opportunity: Some professionals may charge premium rates for in-person access or use that access as a competitive edge — especially for larger clients, the report said.

Another challenge for investment professionals in the evolving work environment is upgrading their skills, which has taken on a greater urgency in recent years because of technological disruption.

The report found that 91% of investment professionals said actively developing new professional skills is important to further their careers. However, less than half (46%) said they receive support from their firms for skills development.

Skills upgrading is further challenged by increasing work hours. The proportion of respondents working more than 60 hours weekly nearly doubled during the pandemic, to 15% from 8%, the report said.

Remote work also challenges firms’ culture. Twenty-six per cent of organizational leaders said culture has suffered because of a lack of in-person interaction.

Industry leaders were also concerned about remote work’s toll on well-being, specifically related to such things as mental health, and child care and eldercare responsibilities.

While most firms have focused on ways to manage the challenge of dependent care during the pandemic, they could continue to do so to increase the effectiveness of employees, the report said. For example, finding office locations closer to employees’ homes would reduce commute times.

The pandemic has also changed investment professionals’ motivations, the report found.

Previous research showed that intrinsic motivation — such as passion for markets and learning new things — was key for investment professionals. Since the pandemic, extrinsic motivators, such as compensation, flexibility and good colleagues, have become more important.

Though it may be temporary, this finding is concerning, the report said.

“Longer hours that compound to a sense of burnout can turn learning into more of a burden than a pleasure,” it said. “Work may also be less interesting without in-person interaction with colleagues, and client relationships less meaningful via a screen.”

The report suggested that leaders be aware of such cultural shifts and aim to mitigate them as they build a new culture in a hybrid work environment.

That will be particularly important considering 50% of investment professionals surveyed said they’d consider taking a new position outside the industry.

In high-performing cultures, time away from the office and colleagues may weaken loyalty, the report said. Investment firms can differentiate themselves and secure employee loyalty by committing to a visionary purpose that supports meaningful work, it said.

About the CFA Institute surveys: Data was collected from CFA Institute members and a select group of investment organizations. The investment professionals survey was conducted in March and April 2021 and included 4,600 people from 120 markets globally. The investment organization leaders survey was conducted from December 2020 to March 2021 and included leaders from 41 organizations globally, representing 234,000 employees.