2017 Executive Conference: Innovating to Expand Competitive Advantage

May 9, 2017

Leaders across industries share how they're setting themselves up for the future

Our 14th annual Executive Conference focused on innovation.

How are leaders across industries exploiting their current business so that they can withstand today's rapidly changing market environment, while setting themselves up for a successful yet-to-be-determined future?

This balancing act could be the number one challenge facing asset managers today.

"Managers manage what is; leaders create what could be." -- Nancy Duarte, CEO, Duarte

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Our conference speakers approached these topics and challenges from a range of backgrounds and expertise.

Download the summary book, or follow the links below to jump directly to each speaker's summary.  

Current State of the Post-Obama, Trump-in-charge Financial, Economic, and Political Market 

Milton Ezrati, consultant, former Senior Economist, Lord, Abbett & Co. 

Markets might retain some of the enthusiasm they gained after the election, but a durable rally depends on policy and the behavior of the economy. The value paradigm that has existed is getting less compelling with each equity market gain. The greatest risks will likely come from abroad. What areas are better positioned to gain in such an environment? Which areas are most vulnerable? What distribution channels will gain and which will lose? Read more

What's in Store for the Asset Management Industry 

Bruce Holley, Senior Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group       

Today's managers face a fundamental and indisputable need: they need to support their investment processes by developing increasingly advanced capabilities in digital technologies that focus on data, analytics and operational efficiency.

Armed with cutting-edge techniques, asset managers have the potential to gain a significant information arbitrage over their peers. They are positioned to understand, monitor and fend off the growing array of risks that confront managers, their clients and the global financial system. Tightening regulation, accelerating digital innovation and shifting client needs are having an impact on manager's costs and profitability. Using BCG benchmarking data, Bruce discusses how asset growth, revenue and profitability have been affected, as well as trends in wealth ownership. Read more

Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols 

Nancy Duarte, CEO, Duarte

To thrive, businesses must continually reinvent themselves by imagining and implementing new initiatives. As a leader, you stand at the edge of the known world, patrolling the border between "now" and "next" to spot trends. You may see the path ahead with clarity, but it's often ambiguous and scary to the people you need to convince.

Whether you're making a truly transformative change across your whole firm or trying to convince a large institutional investor to switch allocations, it takes creativity, tenacity and very thoughtful communication.

To envision the future is one thing; getting others to go there with you is another. Using Duarte's Torchbearer's Toolkit, Nancy lays out a blueprint to help you lead people through the five stages of transformation using speeches, stories, ceremonies, and symbols. In today's era of big data, digitization and increased transparency, audiences expect a high degree of openness, honesty and immediate feedback. By harnessing the power of persuasive communication, using storytelling and empathy, not just facts and figures, you, too, can turn your idea into a movement. Read more 

Body 3.0 

Nina Tandon, CEO and co-founder of EpiBone

One of the driving ideas behind current life extension research is that aging is not necessarily inevitable, and that the human body is more like a machine that simply lacks the programming manual needed for repair. From this perspective, you can think of genetics as the software that drives our physical hardware, and in the future, gene therapy, 3D printing using stem cells, cloned organs, and the use of medical nanobots may allow us to not only patch the code, but repair broken components.

Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues — like, for example, a replacement kidney grown in the lab — is just beginning. She discussed how we (and our bodies) have lived through most of history (Body 1.0), and then evolved into "cyborgs" with implants (such as pacemakers and artificial joints: Body 2.0). Now, Body 3.0 is all about growing our OWN body parts. For her Ph.D. thesis, Nina grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts. With the help of advances in other industries, manufacturing and information technology, we are on the verge of being able to grow human tissue — and Nina walks us through this unbelievably exciting era. Read more

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services

Kim Neuwirth, Director of Product Management, Narrative Science

As pressure mounts from factors such as rising regulatory requirements, competition from new market entrants, heightened expectations from consumers and increasingly sophisticated digital threats, the financial services industry is expanding its use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

AI was originally introduced in the 1950s, and it has achieved new prominence recently as computational power has increased and the amount of, and access to, data has exploded. It is still early days for AI use in the financial services industry, but the technology is increasingly going to be more important to organizations to innovate and remain competitive. In this presentation, Kim explores the AI landscape and real-life use cases being applied in financial services today. Read more

Sex, Lies and Data Mining  

Luke DuBois, Professor at New York University; Composer, Performer, New Media Artist

Luke DuBois discussed his work as an artist and musician working in cutting-edge technologies to develop new forms of portraiture. Starting with his musical collaborations in the 1990s, Luke has developed ways to work with code to create new ways of expressing our world through media. His projects aim for the 30,000 foot view of American culture in the 21st century by compressing, accelerating, and visualizing large amounts of cultural information to give us a sense of what we're taking in, what we're missing, and what we might not have noticed before.

Similar to how asset managers collect, analyze and act on data for portfolio management and investor understanding purposes, Luke mines data to produce insightful art. His artworks are political, romantic, patriotic, heartbreaking, and amusing, and are designed to spark conversations through his unique interpretation of our lives beyond data. Read more

Is There a Future for Active Asset Management?

Rodger Smith, Managing Director, Greenwich Associates 

The challenges currently facing active fund managers are plenty. The shift in institutional preferences and the persistent pressure from passive investing and ETFs remain a drag on net flows and asset growth. Yet, reports of the death of active management are not just premature, they are altogether incorrect.

How should managers attempt to prevent or reverse this erosion and look to grow, or, at a minimum, maintain their market share? How should managers optimize or expand their distribution capabilities? Who will be the winners and who will be the losers? In this session, Rodger looks at some of the opportunities available to active managers as they seek to stave off the competition and stem the declining asset tide. Read more

Alternative Investments — Trends, Opportunities and Challenges

Mark O'Hare, Chief Executive, Preqin; Ken Heinz, President, HFR 

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing interest in alternative investments. Originally the domain of high net worth individuals, the market is now largely controlled by institutional investors seeking alpha, uncorrelated returns, and/or higher risk-adjusted returns than traditional investments. Many alternatives managers project their AUM to grow 50% over the next 5 years, but the industry faces headwinds resulting in less favorable economics. In this session, Mark and Ken address the hedge fund, private equity, real assets and private capital markets, providing insights as to asset flows, the changing investor base, winners and losers, and much more. Read more