Asset Managers Eye Portfolio Specialists

Hiring portfolio specialists is a growing trend within the asset management industry.

As investment products become more complex, demand for distribution support increases, according to Pamela DeBolt, senior analyst at Cerulli. “This is putting a lot of pressure on product managers to get everything done,” DeBolt said. Half of asset managers will hire a portfolio specialist within the next 12 months, Cerulli predicts.

The November issue of the U.S. Asset Management Edition of The Cerulli Edge reviews the challenges asset managers face in structuring their product management organizations.

Staffing levels may never return to pre-2008 levels, Cerulli observed, which is driving the need for firms to get creative with personnel and forcing them to examine their overall structure.

Portfolio specialists are generally tasked with providing product expertise to help fill the gap in product coverage. They typically reside outside the product group and often report into investment management.

“Advisers expect a broader range of support from their wholesalers, which is putting more emphasis on the importance of portfolio specialists,” DeBolt said, pointing out that many specialists travel with wholesalers to meetings in order to provide additional resources and product expertise.

Asset managers often struggle with how to best organize their product groups within their organizations, Cerulli’s research found. Some firms believe product development and product management belong together because they are related. Others believe they should be separate because the roles require different skill sets. Cerulli believes that marketing should be housed under the same organizational umbrella as product to avoid inconsistent messaging.

“Firms that are in the process of increasing their headcount have used the opportunity to analyze the current structure of their product personnel and to make changes where necessary,” DeBolt noted. “Asset managers should assess their product organization structure and evaluate their product managers to see where efficiencies can be achieved. Allowing products managers time to analyze unique client needs will allow better support of distribution efforts.”

More information about The Cerulli Edge: U.S. Asset Management Edition, November 2012 is available here.