As investment firms continue to deal with the immediate impacts of Covid-19, new questions are constantly emerging about how the pandemic will affect those working in the sector over the longer term.
Investment professionals and those looking to enter the sector want to know what the pandemic means for their careers, and which skills they need to develop for the post-pandemic world.
Impact on career development
Economic uncertainty resulting from Covid-19 is set to continue for the next year at least, and firms are now thinking about how they will need to restructure to meet the new challenges they face while continuing to serve their clients to the highest standard.
We have already seen major shifts from active to passive investing, and in firms reorienting themselves from product providers to solutions providers. As a result of this pandemic, we can now expect further shifts.
Investment houses will need to be disciplined with costs and very deliberate in the use of human capital. The pandemic has also changed the way people work and, while it has proven that flexible structures can get the job done, it has called into question traditional working practices.
As companies digest what these challenges and learnings mean for them, we may see more reticence to recruit new people or make other significant changes to teams.
Professionals already in the sector might find it harder to move between roles, slowing the pace of their career development.
Certain areas of the profession might struggle more than others. Some of our members are expecting fewer positions to be created for pure finance roles, while anticipating opportunities to continue emerging in the main growth areas we were seeing before the pandemic - fields such as ESG, big data and artificial intelligence (AI).
For those looking to start out in the investment profession, the situation is complex. Remote working is continuing to be the norm for many companies and, while reports suggest workers have taken to mastering virtual forms of communication well, it is still difficult to learn skills this way and even harder for new joiners.
They can be instructed via video calls and effective mentoring arrangements can be put in place, but virtual tools are ultimately a stop-gap.
For new employees finding their feet, there is nothing that replaces being in the office of an organisation, observing behaviours and seeing how people interact.
There is also no easy solution when it comes to holding interviews and arranging internships virtually. They can be done, but both inevitably work better in person.
It is not all bad news, though. The pandemic has encouraged firms to think more freely and we are likely to see them increasingly hiring people with new skills and different backgrounds.
Businesses are more conscious of the need to respond to rapidly changing environments and they know that to respond flexibly, they need people who think differently from one another - a team that only looks at a problem or opportunity through one lens will see it in only one way.
As firms look for employees with the skills and knowledge to provide new solutions and strategies, we will see an increased and welcome diversity in the sector.