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4 Impending Disruptions Asset Management Professionals Can’t Afford to Ignore

Disruption Mainstream ConferenceWe are living in an age of unprecedented disruption. Once-lucrative revenue models are under siege. Market structures and distribution channels that have been stable for decades are crumbling before our eyes. The demise of brands such as Kodak, Borders and Blockbuster leaves us with little doubt – shift is happening and no business is immune. The frightening fact is that most businesses don’t realise they are becoming obsolete until it’s almost too late.

So is the asset management industry at risk? Here are 4 major shifts that are happening right now that may be threatening Asset Management as we know it:

1. The Age of Automation

For Asset Management, the impact of automation spans multiple sectors. Consider the impact of driverless cars for example. What will it mean for the public asset management population, where we’ll live, how we’ll work? Some industries that are flourishing, like pay parking stations for instance, we may not even see in 15-20 years’ time. What that means for CBDs and regional areas is they’ll have to adjust to a world where within 20-30 years, car ownership may be something that is not common or something not mainstream.

There are also professions that are endangered because of automation. Anyone involved in routine, low-skill, repetitive roles such as surveillance and maintenance, are the endangered roles. If you look at some of the data and research around what automation could look like and the impact it will have on various professions, the Asset Management industry is certainly not immune to that danger.

2. Empowered Consumers

Stakeholders and clients have more of a voice than ever before, they demand more information and want to be far more involved than they have ever been in the past. A lot of industries are used to operating under a cone of silence, “We’re the experts, don’t challenge us, we don’t have to keep you updated,” these are the industries that will need to adapt to this change. Consumers want transparency, and will be leveraging technology to get that transparency. Is a big shift for many industries including Asset Management.

Another significant impact will be 3D printing, and we’re seeing that now impacting at a large scale. For instance, I was working with some civil engineers last year and they were telling me that they’re now looking to use 3D printing technology on building sites to build bridge crossings for instance. So rather than creating something elsewhere and shipping it to the site to be installed, they’re actually manufacturing the items on-site using 3D printing technology. Down the line as this technology becomes more accessible to consumers, the consumer will become the manufacturer. For a whole lot of businesses who control supply chain, that’s going to be a significant disruption in the next few years.

3. Unconventional Competition

If you look at the most significant disruptions in the last 10 years, this is where they have come from. But for a lot of businesses this is the one that they give least thought to. I mean, how many taxi drivers thought their biggest threat was going to be from an app? It was a form of competition they never even imagined and it has the potential to take them out.

When you ask a business who their key competition is, the companies they list are often the ones they don’t need to be paying most attention to, because they’re the ones they’re already aware of, they’re on the radar.

The most dangerous threat for any business or industry is the invisible competitor. It’s those companies who you may not even think of as a competitor yet, but they’re looking to move into your industry. For example, hotels are now facing the biggest threat from Airbnb. They’re looking at Sheraton or Hilton as competitors, without actually recognising the bigger threat is the more existential one.

4. Emerging Generations

A big chunk of my initial research 10-12 years ago was looking at Millennials and Generation Y, some of the attitudes and expectations of those groups, but more importantly, how does any industry or profession connect with that generation?

What are their attitudes and their beliefs, what’s the language that works, and how do you engage them as consumers or team mates? If you’re in a leadership role and you’re managing young people, how do you coach and lead a generation who have grown up in an era where everyone gets a ribbon in the race at school, and their whole approach to having a say and being involved in decision-making is different to what older generations had when they were at the same point in their careers?

While all this information may seem quite foreboding and overwhelming, do not fear!

In my session at Mainstream Conference 2017 What if You Were Becoming Obsolete and Didn’t Even Know? Proven Strategies to Stay Ahead of the Game!”, I will address these shifts and give you proven and practical strategies for staying ahead of the curve and competition. You will leave my presentation with a game plan for successfully navigating change and emerge stronger and more relevant than ever.

Here are some strategies for staying ahead of the game that I will cover:

  • Dig the Well Before You Get Thirsty: Don’t wait for disruption to hit; pre-empt it. How do you get ahead of the change? If you wait until disruption hits your industry or your business, you’re merely in survival mode.
  • Stay Humble and Hungry: You know that the old saying “The moment you think you’ve made it, you’ve passed it,” and for any business that thinks they’ve arrived at the winning formula, they’ve got their revenue model set in stone and now it’s just a case of milking the cow, watch out. You’ve got to keep constantly looking at what’s next, and stay humble enough to realise that what’s worked in the past may not work in the future. That’s confronting but necessary.
  • Build a Culture of Innovation: Rather than innovation being something that just a department or a committee look after, everyone in an organisation should have a role to play in innovating and looking for new ways to do things. But the question is how do you build that culture within an organisation or a team?
  • Foster Healthy Paranoia: If you’ve had any measure of success in any business or industry you’ve got a target painted on your back. The companies that realise this fact are not just paranoid, they’re actually staying ahead of the game. This healthy paranoia keeps you hungry and it’s the best antidote to complacency. It’s all about reinventing yourself before you’re forced to.


Hear more from Michael McQueen at Mainstream Conference 2017 in Melbourne and Perth. His keynote presentation will expand on these points and give you a game plan for successfully navigating change to emerge stronger and more relevant than ever.


About the Author

michael-mcqueen-Mainstream ConferenceMichael McQueen is an award-winning strategist, social researcher and author of 5 bestselling books. He has his finger on the pulse when it comes to emerging trends shaping business and culture. With clients including KPMG, Pepsi and Cisco, he has helped some of the world’s most successful brands navigate change and stay ahead of the curve.





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