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Industry Leaders See More Asset Concentration, Hope for Global Expansion in Years Ahead

In interviews with asset management leaders Barron’s asked top executives about their views on the future of the industry. The questions focused on technology, fees, products and other issues. Vanguard’s CEO Tim Buckley told Barron’s that costs must come down for the active management sector to survive. He observed that, while the product revolution of the last decade was in ETFs and target date funds, in the next five to ten years the revolution will center on higher-quality investment advice. Timothy Armour, chair and CEO of Capital Group, foresees more concentration of assets with industry big players and noted that while the conversation and headlines have focused on fees and total returns, total returns are the main story. He also predicts more transparency in fees, explaining that investors want to know what they are paying for with respect to investment management and advice. William Stromberg of T. Rowe Price also expects to see more concentration in the industry and hopes for an increase in clients coming from outside the United States and assets in international securities. Looking ahead to the next downturn, Stromberg said active managers will be judged on how well they can weather the storm and cautioned that active managers should be paying attention to risk at this point in the cycle.