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    Luuk Jacobs

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    Mergers & Acquisitions: a threat or opportunity for employees?

    There have been two major Asset Management industry merger and acquisition (M&A) announcements of late. The first is Henderson and Janus who are merging at the end of May 2017. In this marriage of equals, they bring together £120bn Assets Under Management (AUM) each. The second merger is Standard Life with Aberdeen Asset Management, now set to become the UK’s biggest Asset Manager with £660bn AUM.


    What does this mean for employees?

    Some view M&A in the Asset Management industry as an exciting time; others will be anxious, seeing it as a sign of increased volatility in the industry. For some, the prospect of their firm taking over another firm could increase the size of their role and responsibilities moving forward. Conversely, and whether or not you are a career starter or higher up on the board, there may be anxiety about roles and exposure which could change dramatically, reducing progression or at the very worst, being made redundant. If these scenarios are likely, you are really going to hope the deal doesn’t go through but it’s unlikely to falter once it has been announced.


    A consequence of acquisition is uncertain times on both sides of the fence. Initially it’s common for the senior management to say there’ll be no immediate changes. On the office floor, colleagues will tell you ‘obviously’ the most senior jobs will be the first to get the axe. In reality, it’ll be quite some time before things really start to happen.


    How to prepare for the unpredictable

    In this transitional environment, while it may feel unsettling, there is work to be done. You’ll need to adapt to a new playing field and what may even seem like a new job.


    As opportunity appears, the true threat is feeling safe and complacent. During the M&A period, failure to act without forethought is perilous, it could even cost you a head start in positioning yourself in the ‘Newco’ or informing yourself of alternative opportunities elsewhere. While there’s certainly no need to panic, it’s well worth being prepared. You can do this by creating your own options and being in charge of the changing environment, as illustrated very well by Who Moved My Cheese.



    Rather than waste energy tuning in to office gossip, you should act productively. Now is a good time to evaluate yourself and your future prospects. You should keep an up to date CV as it allows you time to reflect on what you’ve been doing recently. Soon to be launched technology like AlgoMe allows you to do this easily and can point out the real strengths you bring to the table. Don’t forget to register your interest here and we will be in touch soon. Equally, you should also know what needs to be in it for you. Ask yourself – what are your aspirations and where do you see yourself in the coming months and years. Only you have the answers.


    Be Mindful

    With two organisations coming together, there’s no doubt there’ll be change. If you think this through and know what you want, you’ll easily be able to keep your plans in mind as you go about your day to day work. If you’d like to increase the likelihood of securing a new role internally, you’ll need to treat each interaction with management from the acquiring firm as an on-the-spot job interview and an opportunity to prove your enthusiasm and worth. Equally being part of the acquiring company, there is an opportunity to show your value and strengths to the company but possibly also that you could take on more responsibilities. In both situations, it’s about showing that you’re a talent for the future of the combined company.


    Embrace Change

    There is positive side to all of this change. It may impact your career in a good way. Being conscious of your own talent and aspirations gives you insight which could very well propel your career forward in the ‘Newco’ or externally. Whether you stay or leave, you’ll have new people to work with and learn from and it will create opportunities within a new environment that weren’t available to you before. In the end if an opportunity arises go for it, grab it with both hands, show them what you can do and take your aspirations to the next step.


    The wave of M&A in Asset Management is certainly not over (BlackRock CEO Fink) yet. With this in mind, you should start to view M&A as a feature of the modern Asset Management landscape.  Accepting this, and the fact of uncertainty within your firm if and when it happens, will help you deal with M&A as a fact of business life which you can use to your advantage, rather than a traumatic upheaval you can do nothing about.

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