Natalie Winterfrost

Natalie Winterfrost, CFA

In recent months, CFA UK has canvassed stakeholders across the investment sector for their views on the profession’s value and the factors that may inhibit our ability to generate greater value. We spoke to investment managers, clients, consultants, the regulator, policy-makers and other stakeholders. We are grateful for their time and for the opinions they expressed that are summarised in this report.

There is universal agreement about the fundamental importance of investment, but views vary about the value the profession delivers and how that can be enhanced. Some of those we spoke to put greater emphasis on the profession’s role in helping clients to meet their needs. Others stress the role investment plays in improving the efficiency of capital allocation across the economy. All believe the investment profession performs a vital social function in converting individuals’ savings into investable capital, which is applied to generate a return for the original savers.

All those we spoke to also identified challenges that the profession should address if it is to enhance the value it delivers and raise its standing. Leaders within the profession are keen to raise levels of transparency and to see the profession’s role and actions explained more clearly.

A recent CFA UK member survey reveals that whereas 55% of respondents feel that clients hold the profession in relatively high regard (scoring 7 or above out of 10), less than 20% of respondents reckon that the profession is held in high regard by society more broadly. We need to close the gap by taking more time to communicate our value beyond our client base.

The value the profession delivers is hard to quantify. Our investment actions take time to feed through to returns. The impact of our stewardship is rarely immediate. Our stakeholders, however, are confident that capital allocation is enhanced by investment managers competing to identify productive investment opportunities and that client outcomes are improved by competition to design and deliver products that can best meet their needs. A common observation among those we talked to is that if the investment profession did not currently exist, it would have to be created – even if its design might not then be exactly as it is today.

Read more in our report.

Natalie Winterfrost
Chairman, CFA UK