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You Don't Do It Alone


In Money Management Executive's first survey of its readership on their personal "profit" from this industry, the piggy bank looks full to about half the executives and managers polled ("Half Satisfied," p. 1). And not, to the other half.

Interestingly, more than half-52%-of the managerial and staff respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied. The least satisfied? Those at the top of the organization. Those in the C-suite or on the board.

Which seems misplaced. Because this remains, undeniably, a highly profitable industry. This is something that should be respected and generate much satisfaction in corner offices.

BlackRock is one of the great asset management firms around. Last year, it earned $2.1 billion on revenue of $8.6 billion. That's a net profit margin of 24.0%. That means a quarter out of every dollar of revenue goes back to shareholders or back into the business.

This may not be at quite the level of, say, Google. That organizer of digital information earned $8.5 billion on $29.3 billion of revenue last year. That's a net margin of 29 cents.

But the semiconductor industry, which fuels the engines of every company extant today, manages to earn just 1 cent on the dollar. The insurance business? Actually lost 3 cents, in the last rundown of the Fortune 500. The airline industry? Somehow survives while losing 13.5 cents on every dollar.

Indeed, executives as well as staff in this industry should appreciate the profit that comes to them from being entrusted with other people's money.

As Eric Daugherty of Kasina noted in his company's blog and as we reported in the March 7 edition, net margins in the asset management industry increased from 21.2% in the third quarter of last year to 23.4% in the fourth.

That's the average. And that average, while back to the pre-credit crisis level, is still not the record.

Which means smart fund executives are going to be looking for ways to introduce new products and services that attract more assets or technology that lets them create or distribute product more inexpensively.

What should be avoided is the emergence of any mindset that belt-tightening is only for the pay, benefit and bonuses accorded to managers and staff.

Reward the rank and file first-and you'll get the creativity, hard work and results that allow you to achieve record margins.

You can't do it alone.