What is asset management and who is the asset manager: the key concepts

Oluwatosin Jegede

Asset management is the process of managing and monitoring a company’s or individual’s assets to maximize their value and minimize risk. Assets can refer to a broad range of tangible and intangible items. They include real estate, stocks, bonds, cash, intellectual property, and more.

Asset management is essential for individuals and businesses that want to maintain and grow their wealth over time. It involves creating a strategy for acquiring, managing, and disposing of assets to align with the client’s financial goals and risk tolerance.

The role of asset managers has become increasingly important as the complexity of financial markets has grown. Asset managers must deeply understand financial instruments, risk management techniques, and investment strategies to effectively manage their client’s assets. This guide explores the different types of assets, the functions of asset managers, and asset management strategies.

The types of assets

Assets can be classified into two broad categories: tangible assets and intangible assets.

Tangible assets are physical assets that can be touched and seen, such as real estate, machinery, vehicles, equipment, and inventory. Tangible assets are usually acquired for their utility or potential to generate income.

Intangible assets, on the other hand, are non-physical assets that don’t have a physical presence. They include patents, trademarks, copyrights, goodwill, and brand recognition. Intangible assets are acquired for their potential to generate income, increase business value, or provide a competitive advantage.

Asset managers must deeply understand both tangible and intangible assets to effectively manage their client’s portfolios. They need to assess the risks and potential returns of different asset classes and create a diversified portfolio that aligns with the client’s financial goals and risk tolerance.

Functions of the Asset Managers

Asset managers perform several functions related to asset acquisition, management, and disposal.

  • acquisition of assets: Asset managers are responsible for identifying and acquiring assets that align with the client’s investment objectives. This involves researching and analyzing investment opportunities that offer a favorable risk-to-reward ratio;

  • management of assets: Once assets are acquired, asset managers are responsible for managing them to maximize their value and minimize risk. This involves monitoring market conditions, assessing the performance of individual assets, and adjusting the portfolio to align with changing market conditions;

  • disposal of assets: At some point, assets may need to be sold or disposed of to realize their value. Asset managers are responsible for identifying the optimal time to sell assets and executing the sale process to minimize risk and maximize value.

Through these functions, asset managers play a critical role in managing the financial assets of their clients. They use their expertise and knowledge of financial markets to make informed investment decisions, manage risk, and achieve the client’s financial goals.

Asset management strategies

Asset managers use a variety of strategies to manage their client’s assets. The most common asset management strategies include active, passive, and hybrid management.

  • active management: Active management involves buying and selling assets in an attempt to outperform the market. Asset managers who use active management strategies conduct extensive research and analysis to identify undervalued assets or market trends that they believe will generate above-average returns;

  • passive management: Passive management, also known as index investing, mean investing in a diversified portfolio of assets that tracks the performance of a market index like the S&P 500. Asset managers who use passive management strategies aim to match the performance of the market rather than trying to outperform it;

  • hybrid management: Hybrid management combines elements of active and passive management strategies. Asset managers using hybrid management strategies may use a passive approach for some asset classes and an active one for others.

Asset managers must choose the strategy that best aligns with their client’s investment objectives, risk tolerance, and financial goals. The strategy chosen will significantly impact the portfolio’s performance and the fees charged by the asset manager.

Skills required for Asset Managers

Asset managers need to have a diverse skill set to effectively manage their client’s portfolios. Some of the key skills required for asset managers include:

  • financial analysis: Asset managers must have strong financial analysis skills to assess the performance of individual assets, identify undervalued assets, and analyze market trends. They need to be able to use financial data to make informed investment decisions that align with their client’s investment objectives;

  • risk management: Asset managers must have skills in managing risk and creating portfolios that align with the client’s risk tolerance. They need to be able to identify and assess different types of risk. These risks include market risk, credit risk, and operational risk. They also need a sound understanding of risk management techniques to minimize the impact of risk on the portfolio;

  • communication skills: Asset managers need to have excellent communication skills to build relationships with clients. They need to understand their investment objectives, and provide regular updates on portfolio performance. They must be able to explain financial concepts easily to clients who may not have a financial background;

  • investment knowledge: Asset managers must understand financial markets, investment products, and investment strategies. They need to stay up-to-date with market and regulatory environment changes and have the knowledge to make sound investment decisions that align with the client’s financial goals.

Asset managers must continue developing and refining their skills to provide their clients with the highest level of service. Depending on the jurisdiction in which they operate, they may also need to obtain additional certifications or licenses.

To be effective, asset managers must have a diverse skill set. These skills include financial analysis, risk management, communication skills, and investment knowledge. They must also choose the asset management strategy that best aligns with the client’s investment objectives and financial goals.

Read also: Pros and cons of investing in stocks

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