How fund operators can develop the right skill sets to ensure success now, and in the future

Paul Hansen, Group CFO at SIGNET explores how fund operators can add value through upskilling and which emerging skills should be top of mind

Sara Benwell POSTED ON 4/29/2022 6:45:33 AM

Sara Benwell: How important is upskilling for fund operators that want to drive added value?

Paul Hansen: This is critical and talks to two quotes that I always keep in mind when thinking about training teams. The first I must admit I have no idea where it came from although highly likely in a book I read. CFO asks, “What if we train them and they leave” CEO answers “What if we don’t, and they stay.” 

Quite simply, who wants to end up with a workforce of unskilled people that are going to do more damage to your business than good. Ultimately, the go-getters will leave and you’ll end up with unfit-for-purpose teams. And if these skilled people end up leaving?

“We see around the world the Alumni of great organisations often going onto bigger and better things and this is a credit to those businesses that incubated and trained that talent.”

In summary therefore, training staff is important not only to ensure that organisations are fitted with the most relevant skillset of the day, but also to empower your teams to want to be more. 

Sir Richard Branson said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”  

Sara: What are some of the critical emerging skillsets that should be top of asset managers’ list?

Paul: Outside of the obvious in each relevant department, psychology has always been an interesting one for me in the context of the fund management sector and managing the ebbs and flows of the market. While we would expect our portfolio managers to have a strong grasp of their emotions during times of volatility, why not extend this type of thinking to others within the organisation. 

“An outside of the box move is to bring in a skill that has trained in an area different to the skillset of the respective team.“

This could generate some friction in teams that like to ‘do things the way they have always been done’ however, the different way of thinking about processes and procedures can highlight glaring opportunities for renewal or improvement. 

Lastly, and one I find is overlooked is etiquette. Maybe not so much a skillset, but one that can certainly be enforced in an organisation. Clients clearly should be treated with respect, but why should this not be extended to work colleagues and service providers. We spend a huge amount of time with colleagues, dealing with service providers, 3rd parties and of course clients, so why not just be kind, have respect for each others time and treat people the way in which we’d like to be treated. 

Sara: How can firms make sure that they’re developing the skills they need both now and in the future?

Paul: Covid taught us a lot here with teams working from home. Personal interaction is so important in generating ideas and camaraderie, but we have all realised that we can get the same amount of work done, if not more, with some personal time in between. We all have our efficient times of the day, or places where we operate optimally from, so why not use these advantages across the workforce. 

In this line of thought, developing skills of the job should be done in parallel with personal upskilling. This touches on my training in psychology, mind and behaviour. Trust plays an important role here too and I get the sense that if we trust our teams to deliver set outcomes, we’ll have more engaged teams willing to put the time in when needed. 

Understanding what competitors and peers are doing in terms of training is important, as well as obtaining direct feedback from teams on their thoughts provides direction on keeping skills relevant.

Sara: How important is it to build these skills internally – as opposed to just outsourcing?

Paul: This question is always top of mind when thinking about the most efficient ways in which to run a lean organisation. Outsourcing can take away from the stress of managing large teams. However, personal input and being challenged on matters is also important. I find that this point in particular often generates healthy (and sometimes very heated) debate. A compromise needs to be found on this one.


Please Sign In or Register to leave a Comment.