The asset management industry is used to saying that past performance is no indicator of future success. Never has that statement been truer. As investor needs – and the market environment – change profoundly, we argue that active asset management will be key to success.
How “active” is active asset management? There are a number of variables that investors can use to assess how active their portfolio is – including so-called active share – but what ultimately matters is the quality of a manager’s decisions and the alpha they generate.
Disruption is impacting all industries as societal shifts drive innovation. We believe active managers are best equipped to help clients navigate this changing landscape, but to do so, it is imperative that they stay ahead of disruptive trends in all sectors.
Thematic investing is gaining popularity as investors look to invest in a way that aligns with their interests and values. Without typically being restricted to a certain sector, region, market cap size or any benchmark, these strategies offer an attractive opportunity for active asset managers to show what they can deliver.
In a late-cycle economy, asset-class returns tend to be modest, suggesting a difficult environment for passive portfolios that merely track an index. Moreover, as central-bank stimulus is withdrawn, passive investors could be further hurt by rising volatility and falling correlations. It all adds up to an environment that could provide attractive opportunities for active investors.
In all areas of our lives, disruptive forces and technologies are delivering efficiency, transparency and value by reinventing established models. Asset management is no exception, and the industry’s future success will be shaped by how it embraces and applies disruptive thinking – to place the client at the centre of the business and build trust.
Adoption of ESG investing is growing as investors recognise these strategies’ potential for managing risk and driving performance. But as ESG labels proliferate, an understanding of the terminology involved is essential to finding the most appropriate approach.
Multi-asset strategies have grown to dominate European retail investment over the past decade, and new product innovation should ensure this trend continues. Indeed, testing market conditions can provide a platform for multi-asset portfolios to stand out: their diversified approach can give investors more flexibility to hunt down opportunities.
The expected return to market volatility could unsettle some investors, who have grown used to the steadily rising markets of the past decade. While markets will likely continue to offer opportunities, investors will need to navigate the overall environment more carefully, and active asset management can play a critical role.