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Dynamics and challenges for asset managers

27 December 2012, De Telegraaf

Asset management is a dynamic business.  You have to deal with trading on fast-moving, emotion-driven exchanges where investors are constantly entering and leaving.  “You will only win the trust of your client with a sound approach and a well-founded vision", says Victor Zwart, owner of the independent asset manager Wealtheon.

“The damaged reputation of the financial sector and the economic crisis mean that clients are becoming increasingly critical", says Zwart. "Therefore as an asset manager you need discipline in order to be able to be prepared for meetings with individual and institutional clients properly. You need persuasiveness and to be able to demonstrate a clear strategy. The person you are dealing with needs to be confident that with you their capital is in safe hands."

Business knowledge required

As well as self-confidence and discipline, an asset manager needs analytical skills. Zwart:  "Financial services and products have become increasing varied and more complex.  Commercial skills alone will not get you far. You also need business knowledge to show that you know what you’re talking about."

For a career in a financial institution, most employers will in the first instance want you to have studied economics at college or university level. “Conversely, dealing with clients, managing portfolios and internal research are things you learn on the job", says Zwart. "A good postgraduate study programme is offered by the VBA, the association of investment professionals. If you prefer you could take the courses alongside your work.”

Do not let feelings run away with you

The final requirement that Zwart specifies is stress-resistance. “You must not be nervous of a red screen and strongly fluctuating prices when news comes in about war in the Middle East, a tsunami in Japan, or a sensational assessment by a political leader or major financial authority. If you keep on getting caught up in your emotions, you will lose the client’s trust."

Dealing with the issues of the day on the markets and learning to anticipate price fluctuations is, Zwart says, what makes the job of the asset manager an interesting and exciting one. “Every day brings new challenges. Contact with clients is also fascinating. Each client has a different story, from an entrepreneur who has turned a handy profit to a widow who wants to invest her savings safely. If you can help these people, you can get satisfaction and pride in your work."

Asset Management


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