In response to systemic changes in the investment management industry, a cadre of money managers is training a laser focus on attracting and retaining quantitative specialists, data scientists, ESG aficionados, portfolio constructionists, and more women, minorities and people with diverse backgrounds.
Demand has sharpened for next-generation investment talent — both in terms of age and skill set — from investment firms intent on reshaping their businesses to meet new investor needs and to thrive in tougher market conditions.
"All things technology" is arguably the hottest area of recruitment for money managers, said Kevin P. Quirk, principal based in the Darien, Conn., office of Casey Quirk, a business of Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Money managers are seeking data scientists from the technology sector and other industries to add machine learning and robotic automation to their arsenal of tools to improve efficiency, cut costs and enhance investment management.
Goals include improving investment decision-making through better analysis of larger alternative data sets, even for fundamental managers, and automation of routine processes on the operational side of money management companies.
"Research and development in this area is becoming very important. It's not clear that investment companies know exactly where they're going with data manipulation," Mr. Quirk said, noting that for many managers, adding more machine learning and robotic specialists "still is in an experimental phase for many firms that might — managers hope — result in better skill sets five years from now and what could be a very lucrative improvement for companies overall."
Investment managers are facing very steep competition for the same pool of artificial intelligence experts from companies outside the money management industry, Mr. Quirk said, which has led some firms to train existing employees to become data scientists.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management, New York, for example, relies on internal recruitment to fill data analysis positions as well as other roles within the investment business, said Christopher P. Willcox, chief executive officer, in an email.
"We don't have to hire thousands of data scientists from Silicon Valley to be cutting edge … we certainly have made some key hires from tech companies, but we also are investing in training programs for our own employees that allow us to transform … (them) into data scientists," Mr. Willcox said. He added, "retraining is a great way to retain talented employees."
JPMAM managed $1.7 trillion as of Dec. 31.
"Demand is constant" from investment firms for specialist environmental, social and governance portfolio managers and researchers, as well as for female and minority candidates who add diversity to the employee base, said Debra J. Brown, managing director in the investment practice of executive recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., New York.
"Firms are still struggling with the diversity equation at senior levels," she added, noting that inclusion also has been "a key theme on the retention front. The demand for ESG has historically been an institutional phenomenon but now is much more common in retail offerings."