Beyond Covid - how one firm is preparing for the workplace of the future
Guillaume Lesage, Global Head of Operations, Services & Technology at Amundi explains why firms invest in operations and IT, whilst simultaneously reducing costs and going digital.
Fund Operator POSTED ON 1/25/2021 7:43:23 PM
Fund Operator: What do you feel that we have learnt from Covid-19?
Guillaume Lesage: It has had a major impact and I believe it will continue to have a major impact for months or even years both on a personal and professional level.
In terms of remote working, this was something that was done pre-Covid-19 but we have got to the point where we know it will now be the rule.
We have 100 traders in our subsidiary, Amundi Intermediation, and they were all able to work from home with one day’s notice.
The technology made this possible because we have a fund system which is fully market compatible. Currently 80% of them are working from home and this will soon come down to 50%.
There is a lot of uncertainty, as we don’t know what is going to happen both on a health basis but also an economic basis next week, month, or year. So, organisations must be able to adapt very quickly, be flexible, organised and agile.
"When you never see your clients, you need to be able to connect with them through digital solutions."
Offshoring is also an issue. At Amundi we don’t offshore, and we base our operations on internal teams but some of my partners have had big difficulties in India for instance because people didn’t have the capacity to work at home and connect to their offices. This shows that the way we globalise will have to be rethought.
When it comes to people, particularly operations people, working like this with no travelling, no meetings, and without teams on the same floor as them, means that you need to have very motivating managers who can lead and encourage their employees in this context.
We will have to make changes in human resources and capital to be able to cope with this.
The way we do global operations is challenging on the client side too. When you never see your clients, you need to be able to connect with them through digital solutions.
"It isn’t about pre or post-Covid-19, it is about being able to adapt over the long term."
For people who are digitally capable this will be key. For instance, when we acquired the asset management arm of Bank of Sabadell, we closed the deal in July and signed in January.
We are now ready to run it in the next few days and this was done 100% remotely. In the past for such an acquisition, we would have sent people to Barcelona, but we didn’t.
This is the same for us in China as well, which is a testament to how we have learned to adapt to the new situation.
It isn’t about pre or post-Covid-19, it is about being able to adapt over the long term.
Fund Operator: What do you expect on the return to the office for employees? Do you expect that it will go back to a five-day working schedule or have we forever seen the balance between home and office working changed?
Guillaume: You still need to be flexible as it isn’t clear when we will be back to a more stable situation.
We started like everyone almost 100% home working. Then we sent a lot of people back to the office because we felt it was important for collective work that people connected again after two months at home.
We were around 70% of people back in the office, but on a part-time basis. Now, we are back to a lower percentage around 15%. People can go back to the office, but some don’t and others only for 2-3 days per week.
"It will be different for those working in operations, sales or IT."
In the long term, I believe that part of the job will be done at home and we will have to adapt to that, but I do feel that this will have to be done on a team-by-team basis.
There is no overall rule, and it should be for managers to decide, as it will be different for those working in operations, sales or IT.
You need to adapt and keep the collective spirit. This is so necessary especially for a company like Amundi, which is based on good people management.
Fund Operator: What solutions do you see are required to adapt to this new working environment?
Guillaume: There is a strong need to invest in operations and IT, whilst simultaneously reducing costs and going digital.
I know financial people would ask how you can invest and reduce costs at the same time and in the past, this would have been impossible but now it is completely necessary.
Investing in operations is about bringing value to customers through technology and new types of services.
If you want the right tools to excel and find the market needs, to go digital, to strengthen, and reduce costs, you must invest in your technology and operations.
"There is a strong need to invest in operations and IT, whilst simultaneously reducing costs and going digital."
Many asset managers have been postponing investment for a long time and they now have legacy systems, which are causing difficulties.
These managers need to partner with a company that can provide them with the right infrastructure at the right cost so that they focus on ESG, active management, or responding to clients.
At Amundi, we have invested in Alto. We use services like trading and middle office. One of the options for asset managers is to partner with people like us and then concentrate on where they can add the most value.
The main thing is that in there is no more time to procrastinate. Some companies have put things off for a few years but with the interest rates where they are and Covid-19, whatever decision you make, you need to make it quickly.
You need to move quickly to be prepared for the future.
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