How the industry has been reacting to the pandemic

Thursday 23 April 2020

CFA UK Insights

Author: Joanne Frearson

Marg Franklin, CFA, President and CEO of CFA Institute talks to Will Goodhart, Chief Executive of CFA UK about how firms are responding to the Covid-19 crisis and the value of being a CFA charterholder today

Working from home and coping with the shocks of the markets has been a transition for asset managers. They have to make sure their employees are protected as well as their clients from both a human and portfolio perspective. But what actual plans are they making to get a grip on the challenges the crisis are creating.

 

 




The four phases of how firms are responding to Covid-19

Asset managers are dealing with the pandemic in stages with the first being making sure employees are safe and set up to work from home effectively. 

Franklin recently spoke with 25 CEOs of global asset management firms about how they were dealing with the crisis and she thinks the industry has made a relatively smooth transition to new ways of working. 

The second phase, Franklin has noticed amongst asset managers, is managing how employees are coping in this virtual world and how clients are responding to it.

“The second phase really marks making it work as people are really starting to talk about the impact on their people, the fatigue and weariness that sets in,” she says.“There is a really big difference between working virtually and home by choice and under a lockdown.” 

Despite these stressful times, she points out asset managers are saying their clients have mostly been coping with a level head. 

“The general tenure is really one of calmness,” Franklin says. "Clients are taking the long-term view that portfolios are designed to do certain things and are performing that way irrespective of some of the shocks.” 

The third phase for asset managers has been all about running the businesses and the operations and undertaking what is critically important to them.   

“You can see firms are perhaps even accelerating some of the plans that they had in flight whether that is technology, structuring their operations or talent management,” she says.  

Lastly, she states, the fourth phase is about making the culture within the organisation work in a virtual environment. 

The heightened importance of the code and standards

During these difficult times, she thinks adhering to the CFA Institute code and standards is more important than ever for the industry. 

Putting the code and standards in practice help investment professionals put their clients interests first, she explains. Studies by the CFA Institute have shown if clients have greater trust in their financial advisor individual client outcomes are improved. 
 
“That is probably because they better understand how their portfolios are designed and what they are designed to do,” says Franklin. “There is professional oversight navigating or reconciling competing priorities that clients often have.”  

How CFA Institute is responding and the value of the charter today

This is also a time where having the CFA Charter is more important than ever as investors look to people in the industry they can trust with their money. 

“You want people who deeply understand the market and can continue to assess and find those values and opportunities,” she says. “And put them together in portfolios that meet clients' objectives.” 

Like other financial companies are bringing forward their plans as a result of Covid-19, CFA Institute are looking at ways to deliver the CFA Program exams online as well as modernise the curriculum to meet the changing needs of the industry. 

“It was unprecedented in our history to have to defer for the very first time our June exams and we hope to administer them in December 2020,” says Franklin. 

Like other financial companies are bringing forward their plans as a result of Covid-19, the CFA Institute is looking at ways to deliver the CFA Program exams online as well as modernise the curriculum to meet the changing needs of the industry.  


To find out more about these issues, here are the key areas to watch [timestamp in brackets].

The phases of how firms are responding to Covid-19 [0:00-6.00]
The heightened importance of the code and standards [6.00-8.30]
How CFA Institute is responding and the value of the charter today [8.30-11.45]


This video was recorded over Zoom on Friday 17th April. 

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