macdonald and company
macdonald and company

The Secret to Attracting Asset Managers

28 May 2019
Howard White our consultant managing the role

To Hire Asset Managers, Create a "Lifelong Culture"

To attract and retain talented real estate asset managers to your private fund, asset management house or fund of funds, training and development opportunities are vital. The RICS  Macdonald & Company Rewards and Attitudes Survey 2019 found that among professionals working in real estate and the built environment:

  • Training and development is considered one of the major influences of how professionals feel valued in their role
  • Training and development is the fourth most influential factor when considering a new asset manager job, behind only salary, location and career progression (which, of course, is linked to Training & Development)
  • Only around one quarter believe their company will invest more in training and development of their staff

The critical nature of training and development has also been highlighted in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Capital Trends report. A huge 86% of respondents to its survey believe that changing the way that people learn in organisations is an important or very important issue, and the number one trend for 2019.

Asset Manager Training & Development

Ania Prosniak, Asset Manager Recruitment Expert

After nearly a decade of unbroken economic growth, like other economic sectors, real estate asset management jobs are suffering from a tight labour market and a skills shortage.

Employees understand that the evolution of markets, investment strategies and technology places a strain on their professional capabilities. Both employers and employees rely on new skills to remain competitive.

With this as a background, Deloitte considers that there are three distinct ways in which training and development is evolving:

  1. Greater integration of learning at work
  2. Greater personalisation of training and development
  3. Learning as a lifelong model

Developing a continuous and personalised approach to training and development requires a shift in organisational culture. Instead of focusing on short-term goals, companies with a culture of learning will motivate their people to take a longer view, and help them to identify the skills they must develop to enhance their individual – and therefore collective – value.

Why chase short-term gains when you can benefit from the compound returns of continuous development of your asset management team?

Disappointingly, while almost nine of 10 respondents to the Deloitte survey consider creating a new culture of learning and redefining the T&D regime is crucial, only 10% feel they are ready to address it.

Why Should Asset Managers Be So Concerned about T&D?

The whole economy is on the edge of a seismic shift in how people work. New technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are disrupting traditional processes and procedures. In particular, AI is redefining how investment decisions are made and transacted. Ask politicians, business leaders and employees how such evolutionary models will affect the world of work, and most will say that that jobs will be eliminated.

Transitioning workplaces from where they are now to where they need to be in the future requires redesigning ways of working. It also requires reskilling the workforce. Jobs are being redesigned to deliver new objectives and goals. The world of real estate asset management is not immune to this. It is likely that many asset managers will need to upskill in the next three to five years as their roles are redesigned and their working practices are reshaped.

Training and development is becoming a key issue for the most talented professionals. It should be for their employers, too. The skills shortage means that your competitors are more likely to come knocking at the door of your most talented employees. By offering a more flexible and self-targeted training and development regime, in a culture of learning, you are more likely to retain your best employees and attract talent when you most need it.

Integrating Learning and Work

For many asset management houses, the strategy of developing their employees revolves heavily on external training, or training sessions arranged internally (and often presented by external specialists). This takes the employee away from their place of work, disrupts workflows and creates a disconnect between work and learning.

Emma Burnaby-Atkins, Asset Manager Recruitment Director

The challenge for employers is to create an environment in which training and development and work are considered interlocking keystones in a progressive career-oriented role. Learning must be integrated with work to the extent that it is considered a natural part of the working day.

Organisational leaders might learn much from how IT teams have developed as the pace of technological change has accelerated. Increasingly, the design/develop/test/operate model of systems integration has been replaced with a model that integrates all functionalities. IT managers have realised that each function relies on the others in a rapidly changing world. It is the same when considering training and development and work tasks – when processes, procedures and technology are evolving rapidly, so too are the skills needed to work effectively.

What actions could your company take to make this integration of learning and work a reality? Here are a few possibilities:

  • Use technology to create opportunities to integrate workflow with real-time learning. These might include the use of social media, cloud-connected mobile devices, and augmented reality. Such technologies may enable virtual learning to be spoon-fed unobtrusively during the day, with real-time lessons directly linked to the work being undertaken. Such training practices would give more meaning to learning.
  • Personalise delivery of learning to the individual, allowing them to select the method by which they receive lessons – e.g. video, podcasts, text, etc. This could be incorporated with a flexible timetable of digestion of lessons, enabling employees to receive lessons in the way that suits them best and when it suits them best.
  • Directly link training and development to the development of teams, providing upskilling to enhance individual and team skills, enabling the company to be more agile and evolve teams in new directions as business needs determine.

Empower Asset Managers & Personalise Training & Development

Ben Hoban, Asset Manager Recruitment Director

We are moving away from a world in which a company decides how an individual’s career should progress. In the past, an employee’s internal mobility and career progression was determined 90% by the needs of the company and 10% by the wishes of the employee. 

Companies are learning that empowering their employees more fully in this decision making produces more highly-motivated and productive employees.

This career directing naturally leads to joint accountability for training and development. It becomes the employee’s responsibility to identify learning needs and opportunities for training. One way in which an organisation can encourage employees to take greater ownership of their personal T&D is to link incentives to performance including acquisition of new skills. This encourages employees to seek practical opportunities for self-development, and enables the employer to reap the rewards of an upskilled workforce.

Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning

When asset managers feel valued in their roles, they are less likely to consider moving elsewhere. While training and development is considered as one of the most influential factors in how professionals feel valued by their employers, it cannot be a single event. It must be structured, delivered continuously, and personalised to be most meaningful.

Well-trained employees are the most productive. They are better able to provide mentorship to new employees. They are more likely to be engaged at work, provide better customer service, and reduce risks to the business. They are also more likely to be creative and provide the human muscle an organisation needs to expand and grow.

Companies that benefit from a culture of lifelong learning exhibit several common organisational characteristics. These include:

· Leadership of Learning

It is imperative that leaders, managers and supervisors are enthusiastic learners. Employees tend to follow the lead of their managers, and managers who convey a lack of need to learn and continue learning tend to manage teams that become skills-stagnated.

Bosses who invest in their own learning naturally encourage their people to do the same. Training and development becomes a thing to be proud of, and it is recognised that learning is considered as integral to performance.

· Collaboration & Involvement

While it is important that individuals become accountable for their own training and development needs (supported by the organisation), they should be encouraged to collaborate with colleagues and share their newfound knowledge with their teams.

By creating team goals for learning, the team is empowered to learn more, faster. Key to this is to ensure that a mechanism exists for professionals to share their experiences and learning with their team. This also reinforces the learning in the individual who is now passing on their newly-learned knowledge.

Employee Engagement

Engaged asset managers are more likely to be motivated to learn and develop. If they have been involved in setting their team, department, and company vision and mission, they are more likely to be inspired to deliver on company goals.

The same holds true when employees are empowered to create their own visions for training and development needs. Involve your employees with strategy, setting daily targets, and identifying development needs, and where, when and how these needs can be satisfied.

Howard White, Asset Manager Recruitment Expert

Encourage your employees to be part of the strategy building process. Enable them to be part of the process of creating a positive learning experience at work, ensuring that training and development is integrated into the working day, that they own their career development, and that you create a culture of lifelong learning that makes your employees feel valued.

To find the most talented qualified professionals for your asset management team, contact the Real Estate Investment and Funds team at Macdonald & Company today.

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