Sheffield Haworth: The Future of Work In Asset Management

Tapping into this new generation’s creativity, ambition and sense of purpose is essential to the evolution and success of asset management. After all, millennials will make up the majority of the workforce within the next 10 years—and their money will power the global financial markets for decades to come.

It’s no secret that the millennial generation, those born between roughly 1980 and 2000, is rapidly changing how the asset management industry operates. It’s not just their embrace of roboadvisors and other disruptive technologies but also their direct effect on the industry’s workforce that is producing shockwaves. Asset management firms must now battle mightily to win millennials both as clients and as employees. In some cases, firms are winning. In most, they’re losing out to startups, technology companies or more forward-thinking competitors.

Are millennials really any different from their predecessors, generation X and the baby boomers? Think back a decade or two to the time when boomers regularly accused the Xers of being lazy and disaffected. Now, both generations look at their younger co-workers with similar suspicion. Yes, some behaviours of millennials are simply a result of youth. As was the case with the Xers, time will change their priorities. Nevertheless, the asset management industry simply can’t sit back and say, “Give it time. They’ll come around.”

Firms need to adapt to today’s realities. And, today, the priorities of the workforce are shifting dramatically.

PwC does impressive research and work around trends in the workforce each year. Their latest (2015) NextGen survey of millennial workers produced some notable insights:

  • Desire Personal Growth – The benefit millennials want most is personal learning and development. Secondly, they want flexible schedules. Compensation? A distant third, despite how much crushing student loan debt they have.
  • They <3 Technology – Millennials’ passion for technology sets them apart – and possibly alienates them. Over 75% believe their techno-abilities make them more effective. However, it may be a source of generational rifts in the office.
  • Prioritize Rapid Progress – According to survey respondents, rapid career progression is key, with 52% saying it was the top attraction for a job, ahead of a competitive salary (44%).


  • They Feel Cheated – Employers are not keeping their promises of work/life balance and diversity. 28% of respondents said their work/life balance was worse than expected and over half said they did not feel opportunities were equal for all.
  • Experience Office Tensions – PwC also reports that 38% of millennials believe management does not relate to younger workers, and 34% said their personal drive intimidated other generations in the office.
  • Have Little Or No Loyalty – Some 72% feel they made a personal trade-off to get a job. This doesn’t bode well for employers as the job market improves. Already, 38% of millennials are looking for a new job and 43% are open to offers.

Elevating the work is essential for asset management firms to win over millennials. To do this, a firm’s culture must demonstrate that it values its workers (all of them) and their contributions.

To read the full report, click here.

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