Tech­nol­ogy and risk New hires aim to profit from dis­rup­tion

Financial Times Middle East - - Ft Big Read -

The hottest hires in the as­set man­age­ment in­dus­try are no longer MBAs and CFAs, but data sci­en­tists and pro­gram­mers. Jobs ad­ver­tised for the lat­ter out­num­ber those for fun­da­men­tal an­a­lysts by a fac­tor of eight, ac­cord­ing to Bank of Amer­ica. And Cap­i­tal Group is also dip­ping its toe in the tech wa­ters.

High­light­ing the sense of the as­set man­ager try­ing to shake things up, last year it lured Heather Lord from Charles Sch­wab to be its head of “strat­egy and in­no­va­tion”. She has been tasked with bring­ing some dis­rup­tion to the in­vest­ment group, ex­am­in­ing what pro­cesses can be au­to­mated or aug­mented with tech­nol­ogy.

“What’s on my mind at night is, how do you bal­ance the thought­ful­ness that’s let this place ex­ist for nine decades — and pivot as many times as it did over that pe­riod of time — with the need to move faster over the next three to five years,” Ms Lord says. “This pe­riod of dis­rup­tion and in­sta­bil­ity cre­ates threat and op­por­tu­nity.”

Cap­i­tal has also set up an in­no­va­tion lab called the “Emerg­ing Tech­nol­ogy Group”, led by for­mer Ac­cen­ture part­ner Jeff Roed­er­sheimer who an­swers to the in­vest­ment group’s chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, Julie St John.

It has qui­etly started to in­vest in tech com­pa­nies with prod­ucts that might be use­ful for Cap­i­tal’s more dig­i­tal fu­ture.

But it can be hard to mod­ernise a com­pany as old and big as Cap­i­tal, Ms Lord ac­knowl­edges.

“How do we get com­fort­able in some ar­eas, tak­ing a lit­tle bit more risk and fail­ing fast? We’re not a place that does that,” she says. “And I think to re­ally take ad­van­tage of some of the emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies be­com­ing avail­able, we’ve got to be com­fort­able with that am­bi­gu­ity [of not know­ing what will work].”

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