The light after the lockdown

Finer and Assogestioni

Focus Risparmio | April 2020

Assogestioni, with the support of FINER, has promoted the monitoring of the sentiment of the professionals in the field of finance (financial advisors, private bankers and managers), with the aim of evaluating the repercussions of the lockdown on their activity.

The first collection of data was carried out between 9 and 15 March, during the peak of the pandemic and at the start of the lockdown; it involved 421 financial professionals. The second collection of data was carried out between 25 and 29 March, following the publication of the DPCM of 25 March, the consequent reinforcement of the restrictive measures and the suspension of the activities of several companies; it involved 677 financial professionals.

The third collection of data has started with the publication of the DPCM of 11 April, which confirmed, as expected, the extension of the lockdown until 3 May; the collection of data involved 551 financial professionals.

The results recorded at the beginning of the lockdown show a sense of loss eased – only two weeks later – by the praiseworthy ability to adapt to all forms of virtual communication shown by financial professionals. The latest collection of data reflects the high sense of responsibility germane to the financial field, whose contribution is of paramount importance for the economic recovery.

The respondents appear truly motivated and determined to play their part, even with the extension of the time horizon of the emergency (today, the emergency is expected to end in September-December instead of June). On the other hand, several respondents predict that we shall have to wait over one year for the return to a pre-crisis situation (24% of respondents predict 2023 and after).

It is especially interesting to analyze the point of view of asset managers: in fact, operating at the forefront of the financial market, they are very much accustomed to its dynamics and mechanisms. While they tend to be much more wary of predicting a quick economic recovery, they seem optimistic about the central position of their professional role.

It is worth mentioning that the professionals in the field of asset management are showing a praiseworthy awareness of their role and of their responsibility in contributing to the identification of solutions and investment strategies allowing for a quick recovery of the trust of end investors in asset management.

On the other hand, financial advisors and private bankers tend to be more optimistic than managers about the possibility of a quick economic recovery, probably eager to resume their regular professional life, made of relationships, face-to-face meetings and opportunities for exchange with clients, colleagues and asset managers.

The picture that emerges from the third and last collection of data sums up the two aforementioned perspectives: the right degree of caution in dealing with financial markets (expressed by managers) and the desire of the professionals of savings (financial advisors and private bankers) to move on and start again with renewed energy.

Moreover, the widespread negativity which threatened the professional and personal spheres in early March seems to have subsided: while this may well be a result of mere habit with the current state of things, it can also be read as a clear sign of the general desire to react and resume normal life.

The fear for personal safety, for the safety of friends and colleagues, has now been joined by a widespread concern about the repercussions of the current emergency on real economy, followed however by a desire for redemption expressed through the will to start again with renewed enthusiasm and new means of communication.

Following the beginning of the lockdown, the high sense of responsibility shown by financial professionals has been expressed through their ability to adapt to new means of communication. While the chances to attend events in person have decreased further, the propensity to take part in online events has increased.

The guidelines on how an ideal online event should be organized are clear and precise: May is preferable to June, possibly out of a desire to accelerate time; morning is best and, in any case, the meeting should take place within the working day; length should not exceed one hour; the level of interest should be high, even in the case of online events allowing for the acquisition of training credits (in this specific instance, length may be extended to two hours).

The ability to adapt shown by financial professionals portends a different future, however far from what we used to imagine just a few months ago. The fields of asset management and financial consultancy own their success to an ongoing exchange between client, financial professional and asset manager, sum of complementary abilities and necessities.

Such fields, united by a common fate, have always relied on relational dynamics and on the (sometimes physical) proximity between societies (networks, banks, AMCs), professionals representing and working for them (professionals in the field of financial consultancy and asset management) and their clients (end investors).

Of course, as soon as the lockdown will be lifted, the desire to resume personal relations will go back to normal; yet the positive experiences linked to the use of virtual communication will probably foster an additional and treasurable possibility to build a new kind of proximity.