Major restructuring expected in investment sector: investment professionals happy in roles but fear redundancies

Friday 9 October 2020


Major restructuring expected in investment sector: investment professionals happy in roles but fear redundancies

  • CFA UK survey reveals majority of investment professionals are satisfied with their careers but nervous about the future
  • Two thirds (67%) expect their firm will restructure within the next two years
  • Nearly one third (32%) fear redundancy in the next 12 months
  • Faced with a challenging outlook, only 16% would recommend working in the investment profession to a friend or colleague

9 October 2020 (London, UK): CFA UK – which represents the interests of 12,000 investment professionals in the UK – today released the results of its new annual survey, analysing investment professionals’ careers.

The most significant finding was that, while job satisfaction is currently high, investment professionals are expecting major changes in the coming years and are nervous about the future.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of the investment professionals surveyed are happy with the intellectual challenge of their job, and the majority are also satisfied with their work/life balance and overall career. However, just 16% would recommend working in the profession to others.

This low proportion is most likely due to the impact of COVID-19 and the major shifts that investment professionals are expecting as a result, both in their own firms and in the sector more widely.

So far the COVID-19 pandemic has had little impact on respondents’ roles. Over 90% feel they’ve been able to satisfactorily perform their role working from home, and only 19% said their role has changed while working remotely.

However, the survey indicates uncertainty ahead. It found that two thirds (67%) of investment professionals expect their firms to restructure within the next two years. Of these, 39% expect the restructuring to take place at all levels. Almost a third (32%) of investment professionals are concerned that their role is at risk of redundancy within the next 12 months. This is a marked rise from 2019, when CFA UK’s 2019 Brexit survey revealed that 22% of respondents felt their job wasn’t secure in light of Brexit.

The results show that the profession could additionally face a recruitment pipeline challenge soon, with approximately one third of respondents saying it is quite likely or very likely they’ll move to another country within the next 5 years. Comparatively, in 2019, just 9% of respondents to the Brexit Survey felt they were likely to leave.

Aside from COVID-19 related challenges, professionals are expecting the biggest challenges of the next five years to be: (1) changing investor needs, (2) new regulations, and (3) evolving technologies.

In order to succeed in the face of an uncertain future, the majority of respondents are looking to develop soft skills as a priority. More people thought they needed to improve their expertise in networking (52%) than IT, programming and digital skills (48%). Relationship building and communication skills were also deemed important, at 42% and 39% respectively. Seventy percent of respondents also expect knowledge of ESG will be important for their career.

Says Will Goodhart, chief executive of CFA UK:

“It is encouraging to see that investment professionals are largely happy in their chosen career but, understandably, there is also significant anxiety at the moment. Those working in the sector will need new skillsets as the landscape changes. Firms have a responsibility to support their employees in developing these skills – particularly in areas like sustainable investing which we will only see grow.

“It was worrying to see that such a low number of investment professionals would recommend working in the sector to others. Given the high levels of personal satisfaction that investment professionals take from their own roles, this suggests that they are very pessimistic about the outlook for the sector. This is clearly a time of significant change and stress, but our view is that the sector will continue to play an important role in meeting client needs and allocating capital effectively within the economy. Changes in product mix, technology, data and client preferences are creating challenges for some, but opportunities for others and the UK investment profession has always and will continue to demonstrate a high degree of innovation and adaptability.”


Notes to Editors:

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About the Survey

The survey opened on 18 August 2020 and closed on 7 September 2020. It was open to all CFA UK members and there was a total of 456 respondents.

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.