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The Future of Skills and Learning in a Rapidly Transforming Investment Industry

New CFA Institute Future of Work Research Examines the Skills, Learning Trends, Competencies and Pathways for Career Success

New York City, United States 07 Jul 2022

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, today released the fourth report in its Future of Work series, exploring the Context, Culture, and Content of Work in the investment industry.

Advancing technologies and hybrid working continue to change the shape of careers in finance. The Future of Work in Investment Management: The Future of Skills and Learning draws on CFA Institute survey data to identify the skills and learning equation for building talent and careers in a rapidly transforming investment industry. The report highlights current gaps between the supply and demand for skills in the investment industry, examines learning trends, and proposes changes to investment teams to better leverage diverse talent and the combined power of discrete but complementary skills.


Fewer than half of survey respondents receive support from employers to develop the new skills they need. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, decentralized finance, and sustainability currently present some of the largest gaps between interest in learning and supply of expertise. Chief Investment Officers and those in fintech/IT, trading, sales, and accountancy positions have the highest expectation of significant change to their roles. 


Rebecca Fender, CFA, Head of Strategy and Governance for Research, Advocacy and Standards, CFA Institute comments:


“The world of work has been experiencing dramatic changes, and as the investment industry competes for the best talent, an opportunity exists for investment organizations to reset and reframe their focus on talent development programs that match the pace of change. It’s not only new markets, asset classes, data sources, and investing techniques that are demanding a fresh focus on skills and learning. For many, hybrid working has opened a new way of thinking about the employer-employee relationship.”


Key Findings:


  • The impact of new analytical methods on roles: More than a third of CFA Institute members surveyed believe the role they perform will be substantially different in 5-10 years’ time, and the biggest disruptive factor will be new analytical methods, including AI and machine learning.


  • The pathway of traditional investment careers: For CFA Institute members, the most common job role transition is from analyst to portfolio manager to chief investment officer. Among portfolio managers surveyed, 46 percent were analysts previously and 25 percent went on to become CIOs. Among asset management CEOs surveyed, the most common preceding roles were chief investment officers (20 percent), portfolio managers (18 percent), and relationship managers (10 percent). Some private wealth managers and financial advisers have the most varied career pathways to their respective roles.


  • The outlook for less traditional investment career paths: Career paths are becoming more varied and characterized by more career breaks and greater flexibility. The primary influences on career path developments are from the technology sector (via fintech) and entrepreneurs (particularly private equity boutiques).

  • The skills pathway: Technical skills are most important at career entry, with soft skills, leadership skills, and T-shaped skills (a combination of deep knowledge in a single domain and wider knowledge in other fields and the ability to connect them) growing in importance over time.


  • The skills in high demand: New sources of data will affect the skills needed for investment decision-making. The skills mentioned most by investment professionals include a foundational understanding of AI and machine learning, as well as knowledge of sustainability issues. The most important soft-skill category is influencing, persuading, and negotiating. Other skills that have become more important in the new world of work include time management, direct communication, and being more resourceful. Managers and leaders will need to adapt their skillsets to succeed in a more flexible and dispersed work environment.


  • Skills availability and areas for development: Investment professionals are interested in new skills but are time constrained. Of 16 trending skills areas, notable differences between “saying and doing” are evident. For AI, for every person pursuing the skill, three others intend to do so.  Currently some 20 percent of respondents say they are pursuing learning in AI and machine learning, indicating how much respondents anticipate AI will change the investing landscape. Sustainability and data visualization have seen the highest overall increase in interest levels over the previous two-year period.


  • The talent factors: Employers seek a combination of skills, grit, and experience.

Nick Bartlett, CFA, Head, Practice Analysis, CFA Program, CFA Institute comments:

“Today’s investment industry professionals and CFA charterholders will invest in continuous professional development to stay fluent beyond their foundational studies. For graduates and early career professionals aspiring to roles within the investment profession, the CFA Program offers a comprehensive curriculum for demonstrating professional competence, and a platform from which candidates can deepen their expertise and drive forward their careers.”

To access The Future of Work in Investment Management: The Future of Skills and Learning, visit here.                                                           

Future of Skills and Learning offers new survey data collected through a “Skills and Careers Survey” of 2,137 CFA Institute members conducted in November 2021, with a margin of error of +/–2.1 percent. The complete four-part Future of Work series draws from quantitative responses from a combined group of more than 11,000 investment professionals globally across three surveys conducted between March and November 2021. The series also draws on survey input from leaders at 41 investment organizations representing more than 230,000 employees. In addition, more than 100 investment professionals and human resources professionals in the investment management industry provided qualitative input through virtual roundtables in the following markets: Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay. The report also draws on research captured in previous CFA Institute Future of Finance publications, notably Investment Professional of the Future (2019).


Aligned reading

The Next 75 Years: Will Generalists or Specialists Prevail?

by Larry Cao, CFA, Senior Director of Industry Research, CFA Institute


About CFA Institute
CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 190,000 CFA® charterholders worldwide in more than 160 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide, and there are 160 local societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter at @CFAInstitute.


For further information or to speak to the report’s author, please contact [email protected].

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