Posted August 16, 2017 by Saadiah Freeman
Remote work is on the rise. In 2017, a Gallup report showed 31% of American workers are working remotely 4-5 days per week, up from 24% in 2012. While the asset management industry, as a whole, has been slow to embrace this trend, most distribution organizations have a sizeable team of remote employees already – namely, their external sales force. As asset managers grapple with the challenges of hiring and retaining strong talent in an increasingly cost-conscious environment, some firms are beginning to evaluate the pros and cons of expanding remote working options beyond the field sales team. Firms with internal teams headquartered in regional centers often struggle to find enough talent to fill vacancies, while those based in large financial centers must compete aggressively on compensation to attract and retain top performers.
Remote-based internal sales teams could provide a solution to this problem. Beyond lowering overhead by shrinking (or even eliminating) the physical "sales desk" office location, remote-based positions would enable internal sales managers to recruit from a much larger pool of potential candidates without paying a premium to attract talent – and adjust for cost of living – especially in major financial centers. Also, remote work options could appeal to many of the younger professionals who fill most internal sales roles and even promote greater engagement. According to a 2017 Deloitte study, at organizations where flexibility is entrenched, 34% of millennials take a "great deal" of personal accountability for their organizations’ reputations, compared with just 12% at low flexibility organizations.
While remote teams offer a range of benefits to both employer and employee, they also present a unique set of challenges. It’s true that flexibility is a priority for younger employees, but many in this demographic also place a high value on mentoring and training, which can be more challenging to deliver remotely. Although there are many collaboration tools on the market, these tools don’t work well unless everyone on the team, including management, is comfortable using them. And there’s also the fact that remote work doesn’t suit everyone. As someone who’s been working remotely for more than four years, I’ve had a lot of conversations about this topic. While most people I talk to say they’d love to have more freedom to work from home, I’ve also talked to many individuals who prefer an office-based role, saying they’d have difficulty staying motivated at home and would miss the social interaction at their workplace.
Remote teams aren’t a magical solution to internal sales managers’ hiring and retention headaches, but they can offer benefits that extend beyond cost savings. While managing remote employees does bring its own set of challenges, the trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Perhaps it’s time for more internal sales managers to consider incorporating location flexibility into their teams’ structures and strategies.
categories: industry trends, wholesaler compensation, internal & hybrid wholesaling, national sales manager
The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.