If you want a picture of the key trends affecting the asset management industry then PwC’s latest Annual Global CEO survey  is a good place to start. The report sets out a number of headline findings. But beneath all the figures and insights, for me two major, interrelated issues shine through.
1) Cost cutting
Cost pressures are piling up. Regulation is an obvious one, as the barrage of local, regional and national initiatives promises massive disruption and a huge, and growing, cost burden. At the same time, we’re seeing many asset managers’ fees being squeezed by the shift towards ETFs and passive funds, not to mention the escalating competitive threat from technology and new – increasingly non-financial – market entrants. No wonder almost half the asset management CEOs surveyed said they aim to cut costs this year, while over a quarter are looking to outsource.
2) Sourcing growth
How can you achieve sustainable and profitable growth? Regulation, demographics and changing customer behaviours are all creating openings. For example, PwC predicts a massive surge in global assets under management by 2020, fuelled in large part by emerging markets. It also points out how asset managers are exploiting bank deleveraging, and establishing customer JVs and supplier partnerships to move into new and profitable product, service and geographic areas.
The challenges may be intensifying, but I believe this is a really exciting time for those asset managers willing and able to seize the opportunities. Able is the key word here. Having the ability to change and grow requires the support of a technology infrastructure that can help you identify where the most promising prospects lie, while giving the all-important flexibility to experiment – to quickly move into different product and geographic markets, without being hobbled by massive upfront investment costs and operational overheads.
To my mind, technology should be an enabler of business growth and innovation, not the barrier that so many legacy platforms seem to be. With the right set up, your business really has a chance to shine.
 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Mats Berggren joined Advent in 2001, and is now VP of Sales in EMEA, responsible for Advent’s continuous new business growth within Europe, the Middle East and Africa.