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CFA Institute launches Global Research and Policy Center

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CFA Institute has announced the launch of its new Research and Policy Center, writing that it is designed ‘to engage and convene thought leaders, policymakers, decision-makers, and a community of subject-matter experts on the most impactful themes facing the investment industry’.

CFA Institute writes that the Research and Policy Center is firmly anchored to the CFA Institute tenets of intellectual independence, impartiality, and technical rigor, and will drive engagement by transforming research insights into actions organized around four themes: Capital Markets, Technology, the Future of the Industry, and Sustainability.

The launch of the Research and Policy Center includes the release of new flagship research on the Future State of the Investment Industry, which draws on survey responses from 3,000 investment professionals globally to offer a macro perspective of the megatrends and scenarios shaping the future of the industry, and how current and aspiring investment professionals can best prepare for what is to come.

Paul Andrews, Managing Director for Research, Advocacy, and Standards at CFA Institute comments: “The marketplace of ideas is all too often characterised by research or policy positions without practical value or skewed by bias or partiality. The CFA Institute Research and Policy Center offers a non-partisan forum for industry leaders, regulators, and subject-matter experts to address unprecedented and often systemic challenges and opportunities that are facing the investment industry. Our goal is for the Research and Policy Center to be a positive force for the industry, delivering and transforming research insights into actions and practical applications that strengthen markets, advance ethics, and improve investor outcomes for the ultimate benefit of society.”

New, Inaugural Flagship Research

CFA Institute has also published research on the Future State of the Investment Industry, which is part of a new research series titled New Generation of Investors, New Ways of Investing that aims to help professionals, firms, and policymakers understand and react to the forces of change.

Through interviews and scenario modelling, the Future State of the Investment Industry presents four narratives to assist practitioners and the industry to anticipate, consider, and calibrate for the years ahead: Diverging Worlds, Sustainable Finance, Digital Transformation, and The End of Cheap Money. The institute writes that these scenarios illustrate potential development pathways for the industry, bring forth new findings, and inform recommendations for investment organizations and investment professionals.

Rhodri Preece, CFA, Senior Head of Research, CFA Institute, comments: “Our Future State of the Investment Industry survey findings show an investment industry at an inflexion point. Forces that have defined the sector for years, if not for the last five decades, have begun to shift or even reverse, with economies under strain as we enter a new, uncertain, and transformational era. Our analysis reveals several implications for firms, including opportunities for greater product personalization, AI-driven productivity gains, and industry conditions that are more conducive for successful active managers to demonstrate their value. The challenge to the industry and to investment professionals will be to adapt quickly and to create a better, more integrated, more sustainable, and more client-focused sector.”

Key findings:

Diverging Worlds

·       Deglobalisation, geopolitical conflict, inequality, demographic disruptions, and technological innovation contribute to increasingly distinct and divided perspectives as targeted content and personalization create alternate realities.

o   43 per cent of respondents believe deglobalization will be most disruptive for emerging economies, while only 18 per cent believe deglobalization will be most disruptive for traditional economic powers.

o   63 per cent of respondents believe aging populations will result in reduced global economic growth.

Sustainable Finance

·       Investors increasingly take environmental, social, and governance considerations into account in their decisions, particularly as they pertain to externalities. Much of the business sector and investment industry embraces a multi-stakeholder focus with an emphasis on long-term sustainable practices and climate change mitigation.

o   77 per cent of respondents believe investment management’s future impact on society will be more positive in the next five – 10 years than it is today.

Digital Transformation

·       Rapid technological innovation in the form of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, among other applications, leads to accelerating change in the investment industry. Those firms that best integrate these developments into their talent acquisition processes and investment teams, and best meet client demand for personalised and technology-driven products and securities, come to outperform.

o   The most commonly cited benefit of AI and big data is allowing staff to use their time more productively by automating repetitive activities, cited by 45 per cent of survey respondents.

The End of Cheap Money

·       Elusive economic growth, elevated inflation, and greater levels of debt combine to create higher and more volatile nominal interest rates. Central banks have abandoned their zero or near-zero interest rate policies but struggle to balance the need to manage inflation with that of promoting economic growth. The related turmoil in the economy and financial markets encourages the creation of new investment strategies and products to manage the effects of inflation and satisfy client expectations.

o   Adapting to the changing macro-economic environment is the most strategically important issue for organisations over the next five – 10 years.

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