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Consultants reflect on culture through their own research

The work that manager research teams do at investment consultants can not only help inform their ratings, but also their own cultures.

Consultants are learning from their work "all the time," said Suzanne Lubbe, senior research specialist, equities at Mercer Ltd. in London. "There are different managers … and team approaches to culture, and there are things that I think 'this is something we could learn from,' (such as to) try and engage with more junior members of the team. At the end of the day, we don't have all the answers either," she said.

For Luba Nikulina, global head of manager research at Willis Towers Watson in London, "every conversation is educational."

She said whenever consultants research managers, "at the same time you continuously think about how you improve yourself — you are an investor at a different level, not in securities but in asset managers. But there is so much you can learn from those firms who have best practice principles."

And conversations about culture can also be beneficial to the managers themselves.

Ms. Lubbe said an open discussion with managers after conducting research "hopefully will trigger them to look at it more seriously."