2016 – The Year in Review

2016 was one for the record books. The British voted to leave the European Union; we saw our first female presidential candidate; and Donald Trump, the recently inaugurated 45th President of the United States, pulled off a victory that many did not anticipate. Yet amidst these transitions, one thing is certain: there’s a shake-up coming in the status quo.

What’s Trending in Asset


Asset managers will stay busy in 2017 with quite a few issues on the horizon:


2016’s DOL rule may be just the tip of the iceberg as a number of measures were passed by Congress last year. New policies regarding reporting modernization, NAV pricing, liquidity requirements, and limits on derivatives will keep financial managers on their toes. Revisiting Dodd-Frank and further implementation of the DOL rule may add to that burden. The wild card is the Trump administration; can its promises of de-regulation hold water?


Subdued growth around the globe has made the quest for above-market returns a scavenger hunt. Investors are turning to private equity and hedge funds to add value to portfolios and the rise of tactical portfolios will come into sharper focus.


After the 2008 crisis, concerns over fees and compensation have exposed the industry to scrutiny and caused a re-evaluation of the way in which financial services are provided. Firms will begin offering lower-cost models and products to smaller investors-even at the expense of profitability.


Robo advisors were a hot topic in 2016 and in the year ahead, regulation may drive more assets towards this technology. We’ll also see the rise of Big Data in 2017, as firms look to amalgamate different portfolio management processes on a single platform. The gain is reduced risk, potential for alpha generation, and better methods to identify and ameliorate problems.


As more Baby Boomers retire, millennials are settling into the workforce. The world view of this demographic is vastly different and firms that work to identify and serve it will need to evaluate low-cost, socially responsible investments and mobile- and technology-friendly platforms.

Insights from the WE-Suite

When conducting executive searches, we pursue talent regardless of gender, as we believe that the process should encompass talented men and women. In today’s environment, however, the talent pipeline of women has been less than robust. It’s for this reason that ECK Consulting launched WE – Women Executives in 2012, and this division has been compiling the largest global database of executive-level women in Asset & Wealth Management ever since.

As part of our WE initiative, we launched the WE blog, a hub of ground-breaking ideas from and for women executives. The blog includes my ongoing series of interviews with women in the C-Suite, all of whom share hard-won insights and experiences that enrich us all. In 2016, I sat down with several impressive women, among them:

Janet Foutty, CEO and Chairman of Deloitte Consulting LLP, who spoke to the give and take inherent to the mentoring process:

“I’ve been really fortunate to receive guidance from senior mentors and sponsors, but the mentoring I get from some of my key team members who are less tenured than I am is also pretty amazing; I learn as much from them as they learn from me.”

Sharon French, Executive Vice President, Head of Beta Solutions, OppenheimerFunds, who confirmed that a strong sense of self is critical to success:

“If you show up and believe that you should be there, that comes through. In order to be taken seriously, you have to act accordingly. I didn’t always feel like I needed to jump in and say something, but when I had something to say, I said it with conviction and I had the supporting data to back it up.”

Executive Search News

Over the past year, we were busy searching for outstanding and diverse talent to fill executive roles across the country. Below is a list of 2016 engagements:

  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Head of Wealth Management
  • MD, Chief of Institutional Sales
  • SVP, Institutional Sales
  • Chief Investment Officer
  • Senior Portfolio Manager, Equity
  • Chief Strategist
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • VP, Client Service

Looking Ahead

As 2017 gets underway, I have launched a new interview series, C-Suite Insights, which will feature interviews with some of the industry’s top CEOs including Ted Truscott, CEO, Columbia Threadneedle Investments; Bob Reynolds, CEO, Putnam Investments; David Hunt, CEO, PGIM; Kai Sotorp, CEO, Manulife Asset Management and Ron O’Hanley, CEO,SSgA.

In the inaugural interview, Putnam Investments CEO Bob Reynolds shared his experience and insights on a variety of topics, including his commitment to diversity:

“This is a game of human capital, and you always want to attract the best people, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, etc., and that’s what we try to do. We are committed to having a diversified workforce and are very mindful of that in our recruiting initiatives. We also pay close attention to our benefit programs to make sure they encourage women to stay in the workforce, offering more time for maternity leave, for example, and flexible work schedules. We try to do everything humanly possible to support women because we want to get the best – it’s just part of the way to run a successful business.”

My interview with Ted Truscott, CEO of Columbia Threadneedle Investments, which will be published soon, was equally engaging. Among Ted’s observations:

“These days, when we’re looking for top-notch individuals on the distribution side, their skillset has to be more oriented towards platform distribution, because going forward the US is going to look more like Europe in terms of more platform-based distribution. Wholesaling will be different. We firmly believe it will have to be more consultative, more solution-oriented, and more value-added than it’s ever been, so that skillset is going to have to change.”

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017!

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