Global Perspectives at ICI GMM

Last week, Aric Faber and I attended the Investment Company Institute (ICI) General Membership Meeting (GMM), as did many of our SalesPage clients. While the GMM is always a great conference, this year’s lineup of speakers made it particularly impressive. Hearing perspectives from some of the most influential authorities on the economy gave me some new insights into where the fund industry is today and where it is going.

Laurence D. Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock

Laurence D. Fink was interviewed by the ICI President and CEO, Paul Schott Stevens, on the first day of the conference.

Laurence D. Fink at the ICI GMM

Fink shared his views on Social Security and how the United States, in particular, needs to shift its views on investing. Fink also spoke about BlackRock’s culture and growth, as they are now the largest asset manager in the world. Once BlackRock began to grow by acquiring other firms, a process that only occurred after many years of organic growth, the company was dedicated both to maintaining a single culture and to using a single global technology platform, one that relies on integration. When asked about running a global firm, Fink made the point that, “To be international, you need to be local.” So while it’s important to have a single company culture, that company can only be successful in particular locales by understanding and fitting into each locale’s culture, too. I think all firms looking to grow globally should consider Fink’s perspective, if they want to succeed in new and emerging markets. For more details about Fink’s insights, check out the ICI Viewpoints summary of his remarks.

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Tony Blair opened the GMM luncheon with remarks about reform and was later interviewed by Bill McNabb, Chairman of ICI.

Tony Blair at the ICI GMM

Blair discussed how China’s recent rise occurred, and how western cultures should work with China to increase security and to succeed economically. When asked to share his best work-related advice, Blair credited his father with these words that he sticks by: “Go out with a strong sense of purpose in your life. Time passes very quickly, so it’s best to live every day of it with a sense of purpose and a desire to help others.” For more of what Blair had to say, read the ICI Viewpoints summary.

Mary Jo White, Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Mary Jo White covered a variety of topics, from the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council’s (FSOC) view of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) to her thoughts on Wall Street being “rigged.” (In her view, “… the U.S. capital markets are the safest and most reliable in the world. They are not rigged. Obviously, they are not perfect.”)

Mary Jo White at the ICI GMM

It was a privilege to hear White at last year’s ICI GMM, when she addressed attendees only weeks after she accepted the position. This year, it was great to see her personality shine through in her quick-witted humor and her straightforward answers to questions from Paul Schott Stevens. For more information about White’s conversation with Stevens, take a look at the ICI Viewpoints article describing it.

What This All Means for SalesPage and Our Clients

This year’s ICI GMM conference gave me a lot to think about. The fund industry is definitely becoming more global, and SalesPage has responded to that trend by providing a unified solution that supports all users, both those working within the U.S. and those working in other nations. One area that is and that will continue to be a challenge is integration. Fund firms all use a variety of data sources, systems and service providers, each of which is often vital to their organizations, but–as Fink noted–integration is key, and as we’ve learned at SalesPage, successful integration takes careful planning and execution. SalesPage maintains an open dialogue with our clients about how to best integrate disparate data and systems to allow those clients to be effective, to work globally and to gain market share. I look forward to next year’s conference and to what it will reveal about new industry directions and challenges—and I look forward to helping SalesPage clients respond to those changes and meet those challenges, too.