Technology and risk New hires aim to profit from disruption
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].”