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Can Australian wealth managers learn post-lockdown lessons from overseas?

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Management leaders are pushing for more ambition in the industry and advising experts tolook towards theUK and Europe for lessons on how to emerge from lockdown.  

According to Adam Salzer, chairman of Whitewater Transformations, the industry could learn a lot by looking overseas with many countries experiencing surprisingly fast economic recovery, indicating that a similar movement could shortly be seen in Australia.

“Many wealth management organisations are simply striving to get back to where they were before lockdowns, before COVID,” he said.

“By contrast, savvy wealth managers are preparing for the acceleration in business that has come with the ending of lockdowns in other countries.”

Mr Salzer explained that wealth managers who have taken note of the challenges faced by their international peers, as their economies began to open,  could be best placed to move ahead of their competition.

“Many wealth managers are restarting stalled projects, realising this is an opportunity to move ahead of those that are slower to respond.

“Others are adopting emerging technology for an advantage, and as investors have grown used to doing more online.”

However, one key thing Mr Salzer believes Australian wealth management could be lacking is“transformational leaders”. 

Conversely, Craig Keary, Ignition Advice CEO for the Asia Pacific, is fairly confident that while the Australian industry may not yet be caught up to its peers in Europe,there are indicators things are moving in in the right direction.

He highlighted that Covid-19 had catalysed positive intent for change in the industry.

“The foundations of our wealth management system are very very strong,” Mr Keary said.

“What we do know is that transformation is also very very hard, it takes time”.

Despite this, Mr Keary is optimistic that the global experience has created clear trends and expectations. As such, he believes the industry will soon accelerate its own rate of change to meet fresh needs.

War for talent

Another key challenge of the ‘new normal’ could be the ‘war for talent’. 

According to Cathay Doyle, chair of Super Recruiters and the SR Network, increased flexibility forced by Covid-19 could ignite a “war for talent” in Australia, similar to that seen in the UK and Europe.

“Employees have seen the benefits of flexibility and they don’t want to lose that – and will move. This includes some executives,” she said.

Ms Doyle noted that in post-lockdown economies, employers that donot offer continued flexibility arelosing staff to competitors that do. This is already happening locally in other sectors, she noted.

“Just look at what is already happening in the tech and software space in Australia in terms of war for talent and skill shortages,” Mr Doyle said.

“For example, key projects I am championing at MNF Group, a software company, are bold retention and recruitment programs. It’s a preview for wealth management firms.”

Mr Keary is a little more wary, noting that in his experience, the wealth management space would seek to maintain the benefits associated with “inclusivity”.

“I expect what we will see is, there is a lot of talent around and being able to say to your talent, that you can work in a way that works for you… I think it opens up a huge range of possibilities.”

“It’s actually quite exciting.”