This was a year of changing fortunes in the Asset & Wealth Management business. Leadership confidence in the Fall of 2017 during the 2018 planning cycle was almost at the level of the summer of 2015, particularly on the back of unexpectedly strong year-end incentive compensation trends. Our pipeline of new business and new searches launched reflected this in the first half of 2018. Unfortunately, the year is finishing with fading confidence, and although we remain busy, the pipeline in the fourth quarter is weakening.

The incentive compensation outlook for 2018 is a “two-tiered” story, generally matching the niche-driven trend of our search work in narrowly defined skill sets and asset classes. Boutique firms with differentiated, high active share products (particularly in alternative structure wrappers) and the very largest firms with powerful distribution and marketing budgets and deep product sets (particularly in ETFs) have continued to grow in both AUM and profitability. The middle tier firms, particularly those with traditional core product lineups, have suffered flat to declining client growth and falling margins.

We expect compensation to end the year with bonus pools flat (2017 to 2018), with the stronger firms as noted above perhaps seeing 5% gains, and the bottom performing quartile of firms experiencing incentive programs down 5-10%.

The “two-tiered” story of growth and profitability has driven our search work to be very niche driven, with over 30% of projects demanding “out of industry” candidates.

Market Thought Leadership

Throughout the year we provided leadership commentary on a number of important market trends

▪ Recruitment driven gender pay gap unconscious bias and remedies co-authored with former PGIM/ Prudential Investments General Counsel and Head of Diversity Cathy Verhoff, which will be published in P&I as an OpEd column in early 2019.

CEO leadership transitions observation as firms pursue a “risk on trade” in succession planning which was prominently covered in Institutional Investor, and was the framework for a panel at the US Institute’s CEO Forum with Shundrawn Thomas, CEO of Northern Trust Asset Management; Stephanie Braming, CEO of William Blair Investments, and Kristi Mitchem, CEO of Wells Fargo Asset Management.

▪ Trends in investment research and portfolio management careers in CFA Institute Magazine.

▪ Extensive market commentary on diversity issues including:
– Pensions & Investments: Salary history ban won’t be a problem for money managers, recruiters say, by Danielle Walker
– Fund Industry Intelligence, FI Breakfast Briefing: Cultivating Diversity in Asset Management – Practical Steps and Data Applications to Solve the Diversity Mismatch
– FundFire Exchange Webinar: Addressing the Gender Pay Gap When Recruiting
– BoardIQ Webinar: What Diversity on Mutual Fund Boards Means

▪ Thought leadership on the evolution of AI and fintech innovation in asset & wealth management:
– Keynote speaker on fintech innovation’s impact on careers at the SIFMA Asset Management Group Operations Member Meeting.
– Advisory Director of successful fintech venture fund Vestigo Ventures.

Selected Search Work for 2018

The “two-tiered” story of growth and profitability has driven our search work to be very niche driven, with over 30% of projects demanding “out of industry” candidates. Specialty, one-off requirements represent most of our client relationships now. Examples include:

CEO for the Insured Retirement Institute with a strong C-suite leadership track record, instead of the traditional Washington belt-way insider background, to continue the association’s successful track record as a thought leader on retirement solutions. Wayne Chopus succeeds industry legend Cathy Weatherford.

▪ CEO of a multi-billion family office with a focus on alternatives and private investment leadership.

▪ CEO of a major OCIO firm with a specialization in alternatives and private investing.

▪ Significant overhaul of revenue growth strategies at one of the largest wealth management platforms targeting the integration of big data-driven metrics and predictive analytics as the core driver of sales tactics through the recruitment of a new Chief Revenue Officer and new Head of Sales, both “out of industry” hires.

▪ Head of ETFs for one of the largest global asset managers.

▪ Chief Human Resources Officer for a mid-sized investment firm seeking a broad-gauged business leader with strong financial skills, rather than a traditional HR background, to continue the successful transformation of the firm through diversity initiatives and acquisition-driven growth, among other strategies.

▪ Investment team lift-outs in concentrated small-cap value equities and emerging market credit with local currency focus.

▪ Head of Client Solutions for a mid-sized investment firm seeking to build a quantitative asset allocation/portfolio construction optimization capability in support of the distribution team.

▪ Senior product managers/ marketers for one of the leading ETF firms.

Industry Events & Outreach

Although our unique portfolio of search work is the source of most of our market observations, we also maintain an active outreach schedule, attending numerous industry events.

▪ Attended the SASB Annual Symposium – Moving the Market where we visited with Board Member and former client Curtis Ravenel, and longtime friend investor Jeff Ubben, among others.

▪ Attended the NASP 29th Annual Pension and Financial Services Conference, with the outstanding programming on unconscious bias and micro-messaging recognition and training, led by Shawna Ferguson of Wellington, becoming a highlight of the year for us.

▪ Attended the 8th Annual OutLeadership U.S. 2018 LBGT+ Senior Summit, where we were impressed by the depth of insight presented in the PwC “Out to Succeed” research report, but the real highlight was having a chance to personally thank Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, attorney at Ropes & Gray, for successfully arguing Obergefell v. Hodges before the Supreme Court.

▪ Joined our successful candidate, CEO Craig Pfeiffer, and former client, Chairman Roger Paradiso, at the Money Management Institute Annual Conference.

▪ Joined our successful candidate, President Jim Fitzpatrick, and former client, Chairman Dan Houlihan, at the NICSA General Membership Meeting.

▪ Attended the Investment Company Institute General Membership Meeting of our former client, visiting with numerous current and former clients on the ICI Board, including Conference Chairman Stuart Parker.

▪ Attended the Inside ETFs Conference, visiting with numerous current and former clients in this exciting field, including Matt Collins and Joel Sauber at PGIM, Jan Van Eck, and Steve Cohen of ProShares.

▪ Attended CFA Institute Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, where we supported Rebecca Fender, Head of the Future of Finance Program, in the Women in Investment Management Initiative, at our former client.

Wilbanks Partners continues to be recognized as one of the leading retained search firms by FORTUNE magazine, despite our highly specialized focus on the asset and wealth management business.

We hope that you will give us the chance to help you in the coming year, even if it just to share competitive market intelligence on organizational management, succession planning or compensation issues you are considering. Please give us a call at any time or visit our website for an update on our activities and viewpoints.

We wish everyone a successful conclusion to 2018.