PIMFA’s latest CEO Sentiment Survey – Key Takeaways
First launched in 2016, the PIMFA CEO Survey is an annual report describing the views of our member CEOs on issues for focus and concern within the Wealth Management and Financial Advice industry. It highlights the causes for concern evidenced over the last year and what those are likely to be in the near future.
This year’s report shows a distinct regulatory hangover from last year affecting, in some cases, many departments and focused on the amount of time spent on compliance and implementation. This is partly due to the fact that compliance is no longer simply the responsibility of those who work in the compliance departments. Everyone within the firm now has a role to play in ensuring that the firm remains compliant with the current regulations.
The main culprit was, once again, MiFID II and respondents stated that ‘getting to grips’ with this complex and demanding regulation was one of their main activities. 75% of CEOs highlighted this, with many stating that they would rather be spending their time on developing their businesses. Hot on the heels of MiFID II comes the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR), due for implementation from 9th December this year, which involves a large, firm-wide project for companies as they look at processes, procedures and the culture of responsibility across their organisations, increasing the regulatory burden still further.
Again predictably, market uncertainties resulting from the continuing lack of clarity on Brexit scored high amongst CEOs. They are worried about the prolonged period of inefficient and costly preparations that would not otherwise have been needed, with some even citing this as a “bureaucratic failure.” They also expressed concerns over other global events like trade wars and political complications that could potentially have an impact on their clients.
With 47% of the vote, cyber and data security is of significant concern now that awareness has increased as to how significant a breach in this area can be for the maintenance of trust with clients and other market participants.
Equal in percentage terms – 47%, as compared with 39% last year – more CEOs are focusing on growing their business in 2019/20. Deeper relationships with existing clients, attracting new clients and the crafting of new strategic undertakings including acquisition and consolidation are seen as crucial. Improving client service and experience was seen as key by several CEOs, as well as the need to facilitate “direct private client growth and diversification”.
Staffing and recruitment concerns were a major issue for 57% of the sample. Retention of good staff was deemed essential as was effective recruitment, both necessary to deliver organic growth. Others also mentioned the importance of maintaining the firm’s culture as it grew bigger so as to deliver a consistent quality of service.
Many firms also mentioned the importance of succession planning and holistic training for the next generation of wealth managers, ensuring they are client focused and aligned with the firms’ culture, views and objectives. More CEOs have mentioned the need to encourage the growth of diversity within both their firms and the overall wealth management community.
With 27% of the count, cost control and fees were seen as perhaps a less contentious point than in the past.
Professional Indemnity insurance was a particular concern as costs for this type of cover are increasing. Maintaining profit margins and even a reduction of costs were points that resonated here.