Writing the next chapter to shake off the Covid19 fatigue
Posted by Luuk Jacobs on 17 March 2021
With various governments either announcing a roadmap to the end of Covid lockdown or a more step by step relaxing of the measures, we can start seeing the light at the end of the Covid tunnel. This is also helped by successful and speedy vaccination programmes, and with spring being at our doorstep.
This has also brought to the front again the discussion around working from home (WFH). Some companies have committed strongly to continued WFH whereas others are looking at overall more flexible work practises such as 2-2-1 (2 days at work, 2 days from home and 1 day either). A return to the office however is still a few months down the road.
So after almost having spent a year in a lockdown with easing periods in between, we can start planning our lives again beyond the walls of our homes and boundaries of countries; visiting family; seeing friends; and even traveling abroad is again on the horizon. This prospect should hopefully get us all more motivated and help shake the Covid fatigue off.
There is however more to be positive about. Having been for so long in this lockdown situation, we might forget the many achievements during that period as well as the opportunities that lie ahead of us.
The Wealth and Asset Management industry has shown a great resilience which might have been due to the fact that by the nature of our industry we had already the base infrastructure in place to work remotely. Apart from insufficient available hardware and increased investments in security, the industry was quickly able to pivot to WFH for most of their staff. Clearly a downside has been that our homes were not necessarily equipped for hosting multiple people being online 24/7 or having to swap living room, kitchen and bedroom with the whole family at home.
More important is that change and development in our industry has not come to a standstill. The opposite probably with at first an enormous uplift in technology engagement, followed by the embrace of technology to accelerate our industry into the 4th industrial revolution; from videoconferencing to blockchain, augmented intelligence and robo advisors.
The asset and wealth management industry has lagged behind the technology curve and has now an opportunity to make a leap forward; as already is the case for banking and travel, investors could become managers of their assets helped by sophisticated platforms, blockchain could enable a direct connection between asset manager and retail investor and augmented data can give us a better understanding of our own business and its participants. The industry has over the past 12 months build up a digital relation with its investors, staff, suppliers and wider stakeholders and now needs to reap the benefits from it.
ESG in practice
We should also not forget the input this health crisis and other events have given to the ESG agenda. The significant reduced CO2 emissions due to lockdowns have shown us that humanity can make a change if it is putting its efforts behind it. The benefits are simple and tangible; We all have experienced the healthier air, especially in cities. We should not let this development go to waste and use it as an industry to push the ESG agenda for ourselves and the companies we invest in further.
Launching ESG funds or transition existing funds to ESG is an important step, but the real action of our industry lies in engaging with the companies it invests in, to ensure they create ESG driven strategies.
Writing the next chapter
There is however a great deal of work to be done to further embed ESG in the operating models of the wealth and asset management industry. A recent report from ShareAction, “Point of No Returns”, ranked 75 of the world’s largest asset managers’ approaches to responsible investment. The conclusion being that there is significant room for further improvement, with only 5 asset managers scoring an A (from E to triple A).
Of course this is disappointing, although equally it should motivate the industry to design their plans to become an A or even triple A. When in financial terms a company is rated below B, we would not necessarily invest in it, so maybe this will equally be the case for our investors with regards to wealth and asset management ESG credentials.
Many of us have a fatigue when it comes to the endless video conferences and the lack of real interaction with colleagues, clients, suppliers, etc. The lessons learned should motivate us to start writing the next chapter of our industry.
Podcast 14 Coffee with AlgoMe Consulting – ESG and sustainable Finance: Are we moving towards standardisation?
Posted by Pierre-Yves Rahari on 26 March 2021Read post