Consulting Playbook: Optimizing portfolio and program management in Financial Services

by Hélène Laffitte | Aug 2, 2022 | Consulting Playbook, Operations


The Consulting Playbook, Edition #21

Keeping the Momentum After Years of Continuous Growth in Financial Services

A major Financial Services company experiencing rapid growth for many years (both in assets under management and staff) faced a number of issues with it. The industry has become increasingly complex with methods and products ever more sophisticated, as the assets under management grew to over $100B, the management required help in identifying clear goals, in pace with the growth. The operations started lagging behind demand and an impediment in overall strategy implementation was starting to shape up. The Consultant had the major task of identifying discrepancy and pain points in operations, as well as to discover new opportunities in efficiency to enable growth.

Diagnosis and Aligning New Roles for the Organization

  • A comprehensive organizational diagnostic was carried out for all ongoing activities and projects. They were later divided in to 6 groups – business programs with clear outcomes and goals identified (technology, tools, processes, governance, …)
  • A project management office was developed simultaneously with roles, responsibilities and governance for each business unit defined
  • High level evaluation of capacity versus commitment was performed identifying operations issues
  • A Steering Committee was put in place with focus on business programs, staffing, and all accountabilities across the entire organization

The Successful Outcome Produced Measurable Results

The Investment Department and Operations were aligned with an increased management focus, and facilitated coordination between them through the full operating model. A central management office was established with the following roles:

  • Proactively manage the portfolio of initiatives – current and future ones
  • New program management approach implemented that was centered around defined business outcomes

Prioritization and capacity planning was significantly improved including the resource allocation process. Equipped with this new governance and redesigned decision processes, the company continued its growth and successfully weathered recent headwinds from the financial industry.

Additional Information

Priority Issues Asset Managers Need to Address

The Asset management industry is under pressure, and a number of hot issues affecting the present, will also shape its future. The core of the problem is the main industry structure has been designed to benefit asset managers and intermediaries, and not the beneficiaries and asset owners to same extent. As socio-economic conditions evolve, the mission of the investment management is re-aligning as well with an increased focus on collective return to all investors, and sustainable business growth.

The following issues should be viewed as priorities:

  • Business model augmentation with changes in the beneficiary designation
  • Push to lower fees to match decreased revenues
  • Higher risk tolerance is becoming more common as the search for higher yield requires more risk than most investors are comfortable with
  • Regulation emerges from supervision to transformation – Department of Labor fiduciary rules will push for lower fees and for further adoption of passives/ETFs, low-fee players, boosting large, etc.
  • Relationship matter – winning and retaining clients. Customer experience in the new world is about execution for marketing effectiveness, productivity increases and moving jobs to lower-cost locations.
  • For institutional managers the human touch is key. Presentation skills are more critical than ever, as the role of consultants increases too.
  • Improved client profiling, data analytics and operational flexibility will help serve more effectively the diverse client base.
  • Data-driven decision-making and highly skilled application of it, will help asset managers gain an advantage in an increasingly complex market.
  • Relationships with Consultants with the advance of solution-based investment products, are becoming more vital. The need for up-to-date investment knowledge on behalf of the consultancy, will also affect the performance of the portfolio management team, they collaborate with.

For Further Reading


About The Consulting Playbook

The Consulting Playbook is a collection of posts designed to offer insights into how businesses and their executives can utilize consulting as a strategic lever to boost performance. Each Consulting Playbook post is broken down into a few elements: Case Study, Additional Information regarding the technical application, and Additional Links related to the topic.

CEO and Co-Founder at | Website | + posts

Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.

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