What qualifications are needed to be an asset manager?
No matter what the core business activity of a company is, it would undoubtedly have to make use of a variety of assets to achieve its goals. These assets can be physical, like the building the business operates out of or the machinery, digital assets like intellectual property or patents or even financial assets. In all cases, the company needs dedicated professionals to manage these assets for them.
Asset managers, therefore, tend to be highly experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of their specific asset classes. Rather than being generalists, asset managers would likely be better off by specialising in a specific niche like infrastructure asset management or digital asset management and so on.
There are no strict educational qualification requirements for asset managers. A graduate degree is necessary, but the specialisation would depend upon the type of assets that the manager is expected to handle. For example, if the assets that need to be managed include industrial machinery then a degree in production of industrial engineering would be of value. Similarly, if the assets to be managed are mostly intellectual property or patents, then an understanding of IP or patent law would be instrumental in the performance of one’s duties.
What this essentially means is that asset management roles are open to professionals from a very wide spectrum of specialisations. For example, it is entirely possible for a company to manage assets that are considered artworks and therefore the asset manager would need to have experience handling those kinds of assets.
For infrastructure related assets, it might make a lot of sense to get an understanding of standards like the ISO 55000 (The International Standard for Asset Management) which has been designed specifically for people and organisations involved in asset management.
The skillset for professionals managing financial assets can be totally different. A business or finance degree followed by an advanced course like an MBA would be considered ideal. Going further, there exists the opportunity to enrol in one of the several dozen professional certifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), etc. Such asset managers can not only work in companies managing the company’s financial assets but also work for financial services firms and manage the assets of third parties like high net worth individuals or retail customers.
Asset managers would do well to keep themselves focused on a specific area of specialisation when it comes to internships or other opportunities to gain some work experience. This way they add the most value to their CV when applying for an asset management position. To get more tips about building a CV for an asset management position, please follow the article on CV building.
Another thing to make note of is that infrastructure asset management roles increasingly require an environmentally friendly approach. Therefore, any sort of experience with that might increase the candidate’s chances of securing an interview call. For IT assets management, some experience or education in the tech field might be necessary. The right kind of experience is thus dependent on the type of role that is on offer.
What skills does an asset manager need?
Domain experience in their specific niche – As we have demonstrated above, the actual job of an asset manager can be quite different depending on the underlying asset that he or she is expected to manage. For example, it would make little sense for an asset manager who handles real estate assets to immediately switch to something completely different like intellectual property assets.
Therefore, asset managers need to double down on an area of specialisation and keep accumulating as much valuable work experience as they can. Many of the assets that need to be managed can be technically difficult to handle or quite expensive. Asset managers, therefore, need to have the right skills and domain expertise to manage those assets efficiently and to derive the most productive use out of them.
Asset valuation –
Performing a valuation of an asset can be as much of an art as it is a technical, formula-driven exercise. The reason for this is that the value of an asset is mostly derived from its future cash flows which can be hard to predict and be sensitive to hundreds of unknown variables. An asset manager would need to look at all this data, analyse historical trends and make sensible predictions about future events in order to gauge the viability of an asset.
A valuation can become increasingly difficult for assets that have relatively long lifetimes. As the time of the projection gets longer, the accuracy of those projections undoubtedly diminishes. Asset managers thus not only need to have the technical analysis and modelling skills but also need to have a good instinct which can only come from years of on-the-job experience.
Multitasking ability –
A sizeable company will invariably have a lot of assets to manage. While some of these assets are managed in-house, a lot of these might also be managed by third-party vendors. An asset manager would have the ultimate responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of all these assets and this requires the ability to handle multiple stakeholders and tasks concurrently.
This can get especially tricky in times of crisis when the number of requests that an asset manager receives can increase exponentially. The ability to gracefully manage the situation during such events is crucial for asset managers. Business continuity planning is done to prepare for such eventualities and asset managers have a key role to play in such plans.
People management skills –
Asset managers usually tend to work with a lot of third-party vendors and need to avail their services in a cost-efficient manner. While many of the activities in the management of assets by third-party vendors would be covered under detailed service level agreements, asset managers still need to step in from time to time to handle any exceptions. The ability to be diplomatic and tactful in such situations can be invaluable.
These diplomatic skills are also necessary during the negotiation of contracts. These contracts can be part of the asset purchase process or negotiations with third-party vendors for the management and maintenance of the assets and so on.
In terms of internal stakeholder management, asset managers are expected to coordinate with the general services manager, the maintenance manager, and others such teams.
Project management skills –
The acquisition and maintenance of certain assets can be large projects in of themselves. To manage these projects successfully, asset managers need to have the skills to manage large-scale projects.
Budget management –
Asset managers can add a lot of value to the company through the cost-effective use of various assets under management. These days it is not entirely uncommon to see asset managers with very precise budgets in terms of cost savings that they need to achieve every year.
Managing your department or assets while keeping things within the budget is an important skill to have and plays a large role in benchmarking the actual performance of an asset manager. This skill can, therefore, be a major deciding factor during the year-end performance appraisal and when deciding the salary increments or cash bonuses for the asset manager.
Find out more about what being an asset manager is all about. The following articles cover the job description, salaries, CV building tips and more.
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