Asset & Wealth Management: CEOs’ confidence high but slow adoption of technological change could threaten growth

Published at 00:01 AM on 20 February 2017

  • 65% of asset and wealth management CEOs say technology will impact or reshape competition within five years
  • Just 10% are prioritising improving digital skills and capabilities

Confidence in the 12 month and three year outlook for revenue growth in asset and wealth management has grown again, with almost two thirds (64%) of industry leaders planning recruitment.

PwC polled the sector’s CEOs as part of the 20th annual CEO Survey, and found 92% confident of growth over the next 12 months, higher than the average across financial services sector (86%).

185 asset and wealth management CEOs from 45 countries were surveyed, revealing an industry confident about its growth, yet showing signs of being slow to innovate and adapt to opportunities. Only 10% of CEOs plan to strengthen their digital capabilities, compared with 23% across Financial Services, despite two thirds of CEOs being concerned that the speed of technological change is a threat to growth.

68% admit they have already changed their people strategy to recruit, develop and retain future skills, but just 27% say they want to collaborate with start-ups, confirming the sector’s reluctance to innovate and tap into an area known for its agility and highly sought skillsets.

Amongst the key growth strategies identified:

  • 52% of CEOs are planning strategic alliances or joint ventures and 41% are planning a merger or acquisition to drive profitability.
  • 62% say it has become more difficult to gain and retain trust in the sector, reflecting a financial services wide concern about falling levels of trust in business.
  • OECD economies are viewed as the most important for the sector’s growth in 2017. This year’s responses showed a big shift towards the US as a key market, with over half (54%) judging it to be the most important market outside their home market, vs 39% last year. China (28%), Germany (25%) and the UK (18%) also score highly in 2017.
  • Focusing on the financial centres that are most important for the sector’s growth, CEOs put New York top. London ties with Beijing for second, as China’s capital continues to emerge as a global wealth management centre.

Mark Pugh, UK asset and wealth management leader, at PwC commented:

“Confidence is high, but the sector is showing signs of being slow to innovate and adapt – particularly to technology and a changing customer base. The sector demonstrates a dramatic need to drive technology adoption, global expansion, and recruit new talent.

“Their muted responses to issues on technology show some firms are planning on continuing business as usual and it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that some are at real risk of being swept aside by those already taking action.”

CEOs five biggest concerns in the sector are the availability of key skills (71%), the speed of technological change (66%), changing customer behaviour (64%), lack of trust (61%) and cyber threats (59%).

Despite concern about technology’s speed of change, CEOs believe that, over the past twenty years,  it has had less of a transformative impact on the sector than other financial services areas. Just 53% believe technology has completely reshaped or significantly impacted competition in the sector, vs 74% of banking and capital market leaders. By contrast 77% of CEOs across financial services see technology doing the same again within five years, vs only 65% of AWM leaders.

Notes to editor

  1. 185 CEOs from 45 countries were surveyed between August and December 2016, as part of PwC’s Global CEO Survey. For more information see pwc.com/ceosurvey.
  2. Mark Pugh is available for interview. Please contact Ellie Raven on [email protected] or +44 (0) 207 804 3663.

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