The End of Human Money Managers


Quantitative Easing by central banks around the world has led to dramatic changes in the money management industry over the past six years. Not only have we seen increasing regional differences, but stock picking has also become more difficult as the money injected into the markets by central banks has lifted pretty much everything, regardless of valuation and the future potential of the asset.

Investors have become impatient and highly demanding as a result of years of low interest rates. Old mutual funds are being swapped out for new, better ones at a record pace as investors hunt for higher ROI. Passive income has become a trend, and ETF’s and automated investment strategies are getting more and more popular as a result.

How do money managers attract capital?

There are three main factors that determine how much capital a money manager is able to attract from investors:

  1. Track record
  2. Strategy
  3. Technology

Changes in any of these factors can have a big impact on investors’ willingness to let the fund manager keep the money they have already invested with him, or receive new money.

Technology has been a very important driver over the past few years. Data-driven, or quantitative funds are gaining an ever-increasing market share in the money management space. This is happening because more and more people are realizing the obvious benefits that this type of money management has to offer.

Investors increasingly prefer the robustness, speed, and predictability that automated money management can provide. When it comes to robustness, we are referring to both the physical and psychological aspect of it.

Humans vs. robots

Humans are pretty much the opposite of “robust,” in the true sense of the word. Our emotional state on any given day can make us react to things in different ways than we otherwise would have done, potentially leading to critical mistakes for a trader.

As humans, we may miss trading opportunities in the market because we came in late, took a day off, or simply didn’t pay attention at any given moment.

Robots are obviously not affected by fatigue and lack of focus. For example, a robot can monitor the stock or cryptocurrency market and trade just like a human trader would do, with the only difference being that the former (arguably) does it better and never needs to rest.

Thanks to the high computing power available today, robots can collect, verify, analyze, and react to opportunities long before a human will even understand that such opportunities exist.

Data-driven approach to fund management is taking over

A recent ranking by Institutional Investor Magazine revealed that out of the world’s 100 biggest hedge funds, five of the top six spots were held by data-driven funds.

On first place was Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates with $122.3 billion under management. In 2016, Bridgewater grew the amount of money under management by 17%.

Renaissance Technologies, the company known for having hundreds of mathematicians, physicists, and coders on their payroll, came in fourth with $43 billion.

Two Sigma, which is also well-known for using technologies like AI and machine learning, came in fifth with $39 billion under management. Their increase from the year before was 28%.

According to Barclays, $500 billion are now invested in purely data-driven funds, while JP Morgan claims that data-driven trading strategies accounts for a whopping 90% of global trading volumes in stocks.

The core objective of any money manager is always to follow the money. That’s why we are seeing a race right now by the big players in the industry to use words like “technology-driven,” “artificial intelligence,” and so on. Whether or not that is true is not always a concern for them.

Money managers are destined to unemployment

Those who are really in trouble because of this huge change are the money managers themselves. Most of them will likely lose their jobs over the next few years. There is simply very little need for their very expensive services anymore, as robots are able to do the same thing in a much cheaper and more consistent way.

As legendary investors Jim Rogers predicted a few years ago, the stock brokers will become broke and the farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis. Maybe there will finally be some truth to this.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Fredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.