Our society values correctness. Be that providing answers to difficult questions, or simply the acquisition of knowledge, being right is the pinnacle of intellectual achievement. Conversely, as human beings, we have been conditioned to hesitate when we don’t know or understand something. ‘Fake it till you make it’, as the saying goes. The asset management industry is no different. 

Despite a huge rise in the level of complexity and change occurring all around the industry, there is a lack of acceptance regarding the changes needed to bring firms into the modern day, which goes beyond just outdated processes and legacy systems.

Before asset management firms can move forward and make the necessary changes needed to survive in this new world, they first have to embrace when they simply don’t know how to do something.


What don’t I know?

Many firms in the industry are existing in stasis, struggling to keep up with the demands of the industry, their clients, and even their employees. One reason for this is an over reliance, or at least a degree of comfort, with knowledge that has already been acquired. This leads to a stagnation of ideas and processes whereby the perceived ‘right way to do things’ is simply continuing on the path of least resistance. However, this stifles growth and, in many cases, wastes valuable resources. 

If your business is not considering modernising efficiently in terms of processes, technology and even how it markets itself, it will be a struggle to keep up with those that are. Insofar as this is the case, an  “I don’t know” mindset can provide a great deal of fluidity and shows a willingness to embrace new knowledge and technology, allowing businesses to pivot quickly to meet new demands. 


How do I get to know what I don’t already?

Once gaps in knowledge have been acknowledged, you have the freedom to ask new questions, take new perspectives, to tackle problems, and explore new avenues. Often this means finding out who does have the expertise to help, utilising their knowledge to your benefit.

A recent study from quant technologies provider SigTech, reveals that 79% of those surveyed plan to increase their level of outsourcing of data services between now and 2024, with 23% expecting a dramatic increase. 70% of the respondents had already invested heavily internally to clean and validate data, but when they were asked about the factors fuelling the growing trend towards data services outsourcing, it was the shortage of qualified in-house subject matter experts and resources that was still cited as the biggest driver.

Being open to outsourcing, and bringing in the best talent on the market, to FinTechs, for example, can help to avoid rigidity. By giving the reins to the experts that can manoeuvre more quickly to match consumer trends, track shifts and market fluctuations, and take advantage of technological insights without having to become an expert yourself. 


A culture of “I don’t know”

Applying this mindset from the top of your business can free people throughout the company and create a culture of knowledge seekers. People will not be afraid to question things in order to find the best solution which, in turn, will encourage lifelong learning, and an attitude of never sitting back and stagnating. This builds rapport in teams and encourages soft skills such as collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving; all absolutely vital in today’s constantly shifting work environments. By acknowledging our flaws, and practising intellectual humility, we are constantly trying to learn, seek guidance, welcome new training, and add new strings to our bow.