Career satisfaction leads to sense of optimism for investment professionals

Monday 6 February 2023

Why it is worth focussing on investment talent

  • Investment professionals are more worried about the security of their jobs but appear to be increasingly happy to be working in the sector. 
  • In career transition opportunities they are placing greater emphasis on job satisfaction rather than direct benefits and there is an increased focus on work/life balance. 
  • If looking to move roles, they still believe that strong programming/analytical and networking skills are important, with creativity and sustainability being seen as increasingly valuable.

CFA UK’s bi-annual career sentiment survey asks investment professionals how satisfied they are with different aspects of their experience of working in the investment sector. Where we have comparable data, the answer is that they are more satisfied. The areas of greatest improvement are benefits (where 64% of respondents to the 2022 survey were satisfied versus 48% in 2020) and career progression (with 52% of respondent reporting themselves as satisfied as against 39% two years ago). Career progression is the category with the greatest dispersion with 24% of respondents still actively dissatisfied, even if that is down from 36% in 2020.

There has been a slight improvement in investment professionals’ satisfaction about the ethics of their work – with 61% saying they are satisfied versus 57% in 2020 and less than 10% reporting themselves as dissatisfied, down from 14% in 2022 – and a slight reduction in satisfaction around work/life balance, with 52% of respondents satisfied in 2022 and 56% in 2020 (though the number that are actively dissatisfied has dropped from 23% in 2020 to 19% in 2022.

In 2022, we asked respondents about two new areas: diversity, equity and inclusion and the sector’s contribution to addressing climate change. While we don’t have comparative data for 2020, the scores for both appear weak. Just 50% of respondents said that they were satisfied about the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in investment (with 17% dissatisfied) and only 35% were satisfied with the sector’s contribution to climate change with 23% dissatisfied despite the fact that 57% of respondents to last year’s survey describe climate change and/or the sustainable development goals as being important to their current roles.

That identification of sustainability as a key skill is reflected in people’s assessment of the skills sets that they need to develop their careers. 34% of respondents selected sustainability skills as important in 2022, up from 30% in 2020. Networking, leadership and data skills remained the top three skills that investment professions reckon that they’ll need, but the importance of networking has fallen from 52% to 45% and data has dipped from 48% to 44%. Similarly, relationship building was picked by 35% in 2022 as against 42% in 2020.

In terms of what investment professionals are looking for when they seek a new role, greater job satisfaction remains the most important aspect, picked by 29% of respondents in 2022 up from 24% in 2020. Improved work/life balance was also seen as more important in 2022; selected by 13% of respondents versus 9% in 2020. Conversely, better benefits were important to 22% in 2020, but just 13% of respondents last year.

And many more investment professionals fear that they will have to look for a new role this year. 41% report that they are concerned about their positions over the next 12 months. The equivalent figure for 2020 was just 32%.

Will Goodhart says ‘CFA UK members are enjoying their roles more, however they are increasingly concerned about their job security. That isn’t all that surprising given the way that markets have moved over the past year and some of the statements from high-profile financial services firms. But for those in our sector, most appear to have experienced an improvement in their career progression and a greater satisfaction with their direct benefits which is allowing them to focus more on also achieving the work/life balance that they seek. The only notable areas of disappointment are around diversity, equity and inclusion and sustainability where only a few respondents feel that the sector is doing enough despite all the initiatives that are underway.’


Notes to editors: 

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About CFA UK

Part of the worldwide network of member societies of CFA Institute, CFA UK represents the interests of 12,000 investment professionals in the UK.