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Gordon Brown
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Lessons Learned and a Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Asian Investment Management COO Survey

Late last year, in a meeting with Lilian Tham the Asia COO for Schroders, Lilian suggested we consider putting together an Asian Investment Management Operational survey. We at Stradegi loved the idea, the survey would be of some benefit to the industry and also give us the ability to interact with the very individuals we were looking to service and do business with. What a great idea, great exposure, gain insight, show off our capabilities and look creditable and smart all at the same time. A “no brainer” all that was required was a little work which as consultants we were used to doing anyway.


Wow, were we ever wrong, we had no idea on how much effort, how many disagreements and frayed nerves would be involved in producing a simple operational survey.


In the initial stages we met up with Justin (Justin Ong, PWC Partner, Asia-Pacific Asset Management Industry Leader) and talked through the concept. Justin had recently been promoted to lead the Asset Management vertical in Asia for PWC and was very enthusiastic and all on board. The plan entailed meeting five regional COO’s, who would provide their inputs on the general themes as well as some insights on what metrics and data points would be of interest. These initial inputs would be invaluable as they formed the basis for the overall survey.


Vacations and work commitments prevented some from participating but even if they didn’t participate a number of COO’s expressed their appreciation and made commitments to support the survey in the future. By extending the survey out by a couple of weeks we were able to get a sufficient response to make the survey meaningful.


The process become difficult only after we had collected the data. Analyzing, interpreting and make sense of data was especially cumbersome in this circumstance, as in some cases we did not have sufficient data to back up some of the outcomes. We decided intentionally not to sensationalize the outcomes but to report them with caveats or our interpretation of what the outcome meant. Understandably, marketing teams weren’t happy as they are always looking for punchy headlines that grab people’s attention. Fortunately, we were able to reach a compromise and get this initial survey out the door.


This year was our first attempt and even though the output is not perfect, I am proud of what we put out. We promise to take the lessons learned to heart and do a better job next year.


As far as the lessons learned, I have outlined them below to remember them for next year:


  • Understand how you plan on using the data before asking for it
  • Identify the themes beforehand and ensure that you have requested all the data required to provide meaningful analysis
  • Request specific exact data, stay away from data ranges, as the ranges cannot be used for metrics or analysis
  • Analyse the participants beforehand to ensure you have sample sizes that are statistically significant and representative
  • Provide a glossary definition of all data points requested. This is to ensure that participants understand your definition and can respond accordingly
  • When drafting the analysis, stay away from the hyperbole used to sensationalize the report. Even if the marketing people want it

I want to thank all who participated and gave their time to meet with us and discuss the results. I also want to give a special thanks to Justin Ong and the PWC team for their patience and understanding and finally last but not least our Stradegi team of Rohit Jaggi, Vera Huang and Paul Joseph.


We look forward to doing this all over again next year and hopefully convincing more of you to participate.

About the Author

Author Gordon Brown, CFA

Managing Partner, Stradegi

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Gordon Is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has over 20 years of Global Asset Management experience with the last 9 years spent in Asia. Prior to establishing Stradegi, Gordon was the Head of Business Change and Technology at Prudential (now Eastspring Investments). At Eastspring, Gordon was responsible for business, operational and technical transformation.

Gordon has led multi-million projects including: establishing new Asset Management businesses in the US and Asia; establishing offshore Operations and Technology centers in Asia; building a Technical and Operational platform that supports the Investment Management process across 11 countries in Asia; establishing governance frameworks for Project Management, Technology and Data Management.

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