There's been this buzzword — objective-based investing — that has centered on a very specific type of investment that typically people would think of as multi-asset class, go-anywhere-type investments, with a cash or CPI-plus- type of objective.
I'd broaden the definition. We need to always remind ourselves of what the end investor's goal is and that they have employed us to help them achieve that outcome, however narrow the mandate might be. For example, if an investor is seeking an emerging markets small cap strategy, it's important to understand how that exposure will help them achieve their investment goal so we can devise the appropriate objectives within that mandate.
As the investment industry in recent decades has evolved to focus on narrower mandates, it has caused us to lose sight of that link back to the end investor's objective. The types of conversations we are having with our clients include explicit objectives of getting more from the core part of their equity portfolio, how they might be thinking about de-risking their growth assets, or how to reduce redundancy in their active multi-manager equity portfolio.