In a pool of limited talent for both wealth and asset managers, the role of the institution becomes all the more critical in transforming products salespeople into solution providers.“All asset managers receive the same CVs that we do,” says Andrew Hendry, managing director of Asia, M&G Investments, but the difference occurs when they walk into the building. In an era when the talk of robotics, big data and cloud communication are invading large parts of life, Hendry believes that private banking is and will remain a people’s business.
“We’re very focused on the fact that sales and client servicing is a long-term profession and not a stop gap to achieve an end.”
Hendry notes that product knowledge, diligence and professionalism are the bare minimums required, highlighting the significance of having an awareness of local flavours and institutional (on a bank-by-bank basis) needs.
“Before letting our sales people go out on the road, we practice intensively with role play; we pretend to be difficult bankers, investment consultants and gatekeepers,” he says, illustrating simulated interactions. “If we compare ourselves with major players in the industry, it’s clear that we don’t have the same level of resources to deploy but where we lack in terms of scale, we have to make up in the quality and intensity of our interactions.”
The growing trend of delegation among the region’s HNWIs is making the quality of service to distributors all the more essential, especially in unfamiliar markets where investors are not comfortable with stock picking. Divergent monetary policies are making markets different from the post-crisis when equity prices uniformly rose. With an allocation that will always be fixed in portfolios and the need to dig into mid- and small-cap stocks, clients will increasingly shy away from handpicking in unfamiliar territory.
And when clients decided to exit from their favourite American blue chips, gatekeepers selected M&G Investments, a player that Hendry calls an “upstart” in the region, as their Best Fund Provider – US Equity.