We are a world away from the days when “2020 vision” was used in connection to a future-focused strategy with a clear plan to achieve it. With this infamous year coming to an end, one can be forgiven for looking forward to 2021 with impatience.
COVID vaccination, hugging relatives and friends after long weeks of quarantine, in-person meetings, resuming curtailed hobbies and activities, ending unpopular social distancing, going to a movie theatre, and being able to enjoy a crowded place without wearing a mask are all things to look forward to in 2021.
As we hopefully return to a less abnormal world from next year onwards, the effects of 2020 will be felt across many industries for years to come, investment management included. The good news is that many of these effects are positive.
We look forward to the following in 2021:
- A more connected world – The tools that we have all used to remain connected in 2020 will not disappear in 2021, far from it, making people more connected than before and increasing the ability to engage seamlessly with colleagues, clients, friends and family regardless of location.
- More digitisation – Digitisation has only begun its course in investment management. As discussed in previous articles, it is an unstoppable wave. Those who harness it to improve the way they serve clients will win in the digital age. While technology has, in years past, been heavily focused on data, the back and middle offices, expect technology to play a greater role in the front office in 2021 and beyond, to help financial firms engage with clients, visualise solutions, experiment in near-real time and execute personalised solutions electronically.
- More personalisation – Closely connected to the point above, expect client centricity to increase in 2021 and beyond, with growth in custom indexing, customised solutions, and personalised portfolios delivered to more clients across more segments with the help of new digital technology such as the ALPIMA product suite.
- More workplace flexibility – 2020 has taught us it is possible to work from home and continue to operate at a high level with teams dispersed across a number of locations rather than a single office. Mentalities have changed in a positive way with respect to allowing people to work from home and other locations. Organisations that emphasise output rather than input will continue to give their staff more flexibility compared to pre-COVID times, a welcome development, to be sure.
- More transparency – The digital wave we mentioned earlier is driven by a strong force, which is that technology tends to push information to the surface. This force will continue its work in 2021 and beyond, in pre-sales, sales and after-sales processes across all client segments.
- Less dysfunctional politics – With the US elections out of the way and a Brexit agreement finally reached, 2021 should be less dysfunctional, which will hopefully allow senior political leaders to re-focus on matters such as health, inequality, education and the environment with more clarity.
- More meaningful ESG progress – As more and more senior leaders appreciate the parallels between the COVID pandemic and climate risk – both being global crises with potentially catastrophic consequences, expect environmental issues, and more broadly ESG, to further grow in importance in 2021 as discussed in earlier articles. With ESG already described by some as the most important transformation affecting investment management in living memory, it will continue making its way to the top of the corporate agenda, with tangible initiatives and visible results.
Goodbye 2020. Here’s to a more connected, more personalised, less dysfunctional and more ESG-focused 2021.
Happy New Year from ALPIMA