Investment industry should focus on providing value to society, says Daniel Murray, CFA

Thursday 28 February 2019

 crowd of people

Author: Maha Khan Phillips

Daniel Murray, CFA, is Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Head of Research at EFG Asset Management. In November, he became the new chairman of the board of CFA UK. He talks to Professional Investor about the future direction of the Society, and about the challenges the investment industry faces more broadly.

Daniel Murray, CFA, has worn many hats since he joined the investment industry in 1997, having worked as a portfolio manager, director of strategy, as an analyst, in research, and as a chief economist. He also has a strong academic background, having been awarded a PhD in Economics from the University of Bristol.  In November, he stepped into a new role: becoming the chair of the board of CFA UK.


So what does the new chair of the Society think the future holds for the investment industry? 

More professionalism, he says - which can only be a good thing. “I think there is increasing pressure on the industry to professionalise, in the same way as there was pressure a few hundred years ago on professions such as medicine and accountancy. I think there will be pressure on financial services and on fund management in particular, which will come partly from self-regulation, and partly from the regulators themselves,” Murray explains.

Equally importantly, however, Murray believes the industry must decide what it really stands for. “What is it that we are selling, what is the value we are providing to society, and what is the value that we are providing to our clients? The focus has been very much on performance. Of course, all our clients want to receive good performance, and that is a worthwhile thing to work for. But in a room of a thousand conscientious, hard-working, bright, intelligent CFA charterholders, roughly half will outperform and half will underperform. That is just the mathematical and statistical reality of it,” he points out.

Of course investment professionals should try to avoid bad performance, but, Murray argues, they should also do some ‘soul searching’ about what we are trying to provide more generally as an industry. “At the moment, our value proposition is centred very much on performance, and it is hard to demonstrate value in an industry that is obsessed with performance if you are underperforming. So I think we have to determine just what value means.”

He also believes the financial services industry has to do a better job of articulating all the key services it provides, from helping people retire, borrow at reasonable costs, and fund houses via mortgage markets. “It’s about the efficient allocation of capital, about trying to encourage productivity growth, which of course is a benefit to society as a whole,” Murray says.


CFA UK role

Murray has begun his tenure at CFA UK a few months before the Annual Conference, which will take place in London, in May this year, and which, he says, is a short term focus. “As ever, we have a fantastic line up of speakers, and are expecting visitors from around the world to come to London.” He adds that the conference is one of the few times a year that he gets to ‘stop and think without too much interruption’ about the investment world, while hearing some really interesting speakers cover a broad range of subjects.

Murray is also excited about CFA UK’s new ESG qualification, launching this year, which will give investment professionals the skills and knowledge they need to integrate ESG issues into their day to day roles. “It’s something that we feel reflects the changing nature of the industry, and it’s an area that asset owners and asset managers are becoming increasingly focused on,” he says.

He is a passionate believer in volunteering, and wants CFA UK members to give their time back to the Society. “There are all sorts of different levels of volunteering, so some people are fully committed and are involved in multiple different aspects of [the] Society, but other people just volunteer on a lighter basis. Really, the Society is grateful for any time and effort people put into these things. Even small efforts can make a big difference. Some people just get involved in occasional projects, which might take a bit of time, but it would be for a limited term commitment. But other people get involved in committees and so forth that typically require a longer and larger time commitment. There are all sorts of different levels, so I would encourage people, if they see something they think is interesting, to knock on the doors of the Society, and I’m sure they’ll be welcome with open arms.” 

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