With the likely advent of a much larger remote workforce in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, preservation of the unique investment culture of their firms is top of mind for money management executives.
"One of the biggest impacts of the COVID-19 on asset managers likely will be on investment management culture," said Kevin P. Quirk, a Darien, Conn.-based principal of Casey Quirk, a practice of Deloitte Consulting LLC. "Many firms have built a pervasive, singular, in-office culture."
Casey Quirk advises money management companies about their business operations and Mr. Quirk said that over the past few months, CEOs have expressed concern about retaining their firm's culture if most workers are not in the office. They also are worried about the mental health of their employees if they must continue to work in isolation, he said.
"There's a social contract embedded in an investment company's culture that's focused on face-to-face interaction in the office with portfolio managers sitting next to traders and research analysts all sharing investment ideas. What happens to that reliance on each other if the relationship remains largely remote?" Mr. Quirk said.
Sources agreed that culture preservation is essential to the success of managers going forward.
"Culture is extremely important to money management firms because there's a huge human element to the business," said Christopher Thompson, director global equity manager research based in the Stamford, Conn. office of Willis Towers Watson PLC.
"Companies that create an environment of flexibility with a caring focus on individuals and succeed in navigating the secular industry shift to remote working and effective communication with employees will be the winners going forward," Mr. Thompson said.
Senior money management executives are using remote communication technology to engage their investment teams in day-to-day investment, research, risk management and trading activities as well as for client relationship management.
PGIM Inc., Newark, N.J., is tightly focused on "retaining our culture on the investment side because it's critical to maintaining performance," said Taimur Hyat, chief operating officer.
PGIM's portfolio managers have an average tenure of 17 years and are "quite bonded together. The culture pervades our public and private market teams. Ours is a culture of debate and discussion and the richness of the debate is essential for money management," Mr. Hyat said.