How Workplace Culture Enables Investment Firms to Do Better
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How Workplace Culture Enables Investment Firms to Do Better

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The following content is sponsored by Wells Fargo Asset Management.

WFAM Workplace Culture

Workplace Culture Enables Investment Firms to Do Better

In today’s highly competitive business environment, workplace culture is becoming increasingly recognized as a source of competitive advantage.

What does this mean for the investment industry, and how can asset managers use it to improve performance?

To find out, this infographic from Wells Fargo Asset Management explores the elements of a healthy culture, then shares four insights regarding the workplace of tomorrow.

The Top Cultural Edges to Develop

Workplace culture was gaining traction for several years prior to COVID-19, but after the disruptions experienced in 2020, its perceived importance has quickly escalated.

In light of this situation, the Thinking Ahead Institute, a non-profit dedicated to improving the efficacy of the investment industry, surveyed 27 asset managers on what they believe are the most important cultural edges to develop.

#1: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)

92% of respondents

DE&I was the top cultural priority by a wide margin, and it’s easy to see why given the industry’s well-documented lack of diversity. Boosting DE&I isn’t just about optics, however.

In a 2018 study, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed 1,700 companies globally to learn how diversity affected their performance. They found that firms with above-average diversity on their management teams reported average innovation revenue of 45%, while those with below-average diversity reported it to be about 26%.

#2: Innovation

62% of respondents

Asset managers frequently apply innovative techniques within their portfolios. When it comes to business and operating models, however, innovation is much harder to come by.

The Thinking Ahead Institute identifies a number of characteristics that an innovative culture should possess:

CharacteristicDescription
IncentivesThe degree to which innovation is rewarded
Time scalesWhether the long time horizon associated with innovation is recognized and honored
Judgement capacityLeadership is willing to challenge the status quo and make uncomfortable changes
StructureWhether roles and organizational design allow innovation to flourish

#3: Transparency

42% of respondents

In a recent survey of 300 asset owners, trust was identified as the most important factor for choosing an asset manager, even coming ahead of performance and fees.

Factor% of Respondents*
Trust47%
Good investment track record42%
Personalized service39%
Customer service28%
Low or no fees21%
Social responsibility10%

*Question: Why did you originally select your financial advisor?

By fostering a culture of transparency, asset managers will find themselves better positioned to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with clients and prospects.

Four Insights Regarding the Workplace Culture of the Future

Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to have a lasting impact on the way businesses operate. To get an idea of what this may look like, here are four insights regarding the workplace culture of the future.

#1: Health and wellness determine business success

Disruptions to normal life were a drain on U.S. workers, with 46% reporting mental health issues during the pandemic—an 18% increase over the prior year.

Moving forward, businesses that focus on wellness may find themselves with a more effective and resilient workforce. In one 2017 study, participation in employee wellness programs was found to increase productivity by 5% to 11%.

#2: Remote work continues to play a role

Over the course of the pandemic, businesses have learned that many of their normal operations can be conducted remotely.

To understand this operating model better, McKinsey & Company analyzed each industry’s potential for remote work. This was defined as the % of time spent on activities that can be done remotely, without any losses in productivity.

IndustryEffective Potential (no productivity loss) Theoretical Maximum
Finance & Insurance76%86%
IT and Telecommunications58%69%
Education33%69%
Real estate32%44%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation19%32%
Retail 18%28%

The Finance & Insurance industry has the highest potential for remote work, which is understandable given the industry’s large reliance on office jobs. Sectors such as Retail, which rely heavily on in-store workers, were among the least likely to benefit.

#3: Accelerated adoption of digital strategy

Lockdowns during the pandemic appear to have fundamentally changed the way businesses and consumers interact, resulting in a greater reliance on technology.

To compensate, executives from a variety of industries have reported making larger investments in digitization, particularly in terms of automation and employee communications.

#4: ESG investors pay greater attention to culture

As the benefits of culture become more well-known, investors are likely to give it a more significant weighting when analyzing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects of a business.

In a 2020 survey on responsible investment, 53% of respondents agreed that after the events of COVID-19, companies should disclose more details about their workplace culture and other social factors.

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Smashing Atoms: The History of Uranium and Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is among the world’s cleanest sources of energy, but how did uranium and nuclear power come to be?

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The History of Uranium and Nuclear Power

Uranium has been around for millennia, but we only recently began to understand its unique properties.

Today, the radioactive metal fuels hundreds of nuclear reactors, enabling carbon-free energy generation across the globe. But how did uranium and nuclear power come to be?

The above infographic from the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust outlines the history of nuclear energy and highlights the role of uranium in producing clean energy.

From Discovery to Fission: Uncovering Uranium

Just like all matter, the history of uranium and nuclear energy can be traced back to the atom.

Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, first discovered uranium in 1789 by extracting it from a mineral called “pitchblende”. He named uranium after the then newly discovered planet, Uranus. But the history of nuclear power really began in 1895 when German engineer Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and radiation, kicking off a series of experiments and discoveries—including that of radioactivity.

In 1905, Albert Einstein set the stage for nuclear power with his famous theory relating mass and energy, E = mc2. Roughly 35 years later, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman confirmed his theory by firing neutrons into uranium atoms, which yielded elements lighter than uranium. According to Einstein’s theory, the mass lost during the reaction changed into energy. This demonstrated that fission—the splitting of one atom into lighter elements—had occurred.

“Nuclear energy is incomparably greater than the molecular energy which we use today.”

—Winston Churchill, 1955.

Following the discovery of fission, scientists worked to develop a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. In 1939, a team of French scientists led by Frédéric Joliot-Curie demonstrated that fission can cause a chain reaction and filed the first patent on nuclear reactors.

Later in 1942, a group of scientists led by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard set off the first nuclear chain reaction through the Chicago Pile-1. Interestingly, they built this makeshift reactor using graphite bricks on an abandoned squash court in the University of Chicago.

These experiments proved that uranium could produce energy through fission. However, the first peaceful use of nuclear fission did not come until 1951, when Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-1) in Idaho generated the first electricity sourced from nuclear power.

The Power of the Atom: Nuclear Power and Clean Energy

Nuclear reactors harness uranium’s properties to generate energy without any greenhouse gas emissions. While uranium’s radioactivity makes it unique, it has three other properties that stand out:

  • Material Density: Uranium has a density of 19.1g/cm3, making it one of the densest metals on Earth. For reference, it is nearly as heavy (and dense) as gold.
  • Abundance: At 2.8 parts per million, uranium is approximately 700 times more abundant than gold, and 37 times more abundant than silver.
  • Energy Density: Uranium is extremely energy-dense. A one-inch tall uranium pellet contains the same amount of energy as 120 gallons of oil.

Thanks to its high energy density, the use of uranium fuel makes nuclear power more efficient than other energy sources. This includes renewables like wind and solar, which typically require much more land (and more units) to generate the same amount of electricity as a single nuclear reactor.

But nuclear power offers more than just a smaller land footprint. It’s also one of the cleanest and most reliable energy sources available today, poised to play a major role in the energy transition.

The Future of Uranium and Nuclear Power

Although nuclear power is often left out of the clean energy conversation, the ongoing energy crisis has brought it back into focus.

Several countries are going nuclear in a bid to reduce reliance on fossil fuels while building reliable energy grids. For example, nuclear power is expected to play a prominent role in the UK’s plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Furthermore, Japan recently approved restarts at three of its nuclear reactors after initially phasing out nuclear power following the Fukushima accident.

The resurgence of nuclear power, in addition to reactors that are already under construction, will likely lead to higher demand for uranium—especially as the world embraces clean energy.

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Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining

Canadian gold mining has grown to become a highly prolific industry, thanks to its geological riches and political stability.

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Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining

Gold mining has long played an integral role in shaping Canada’s cities and its modern day economy. The gold mining infrastructure that was built alongside the country’s towns in the 19th century has grown to provide $21.6 billion worth of exports for Canada in 2020.

When combined with the country’s superb geology, Canada’s jurisdictional strengths make it one of the most prolific and secure locations in the world for mining companies to explore, develop, and produce gold.

This infographic sponsored by Clarity Gold dives into how Canada has grown into a nation built for gold mining. Both in how the country facilitates the production of gold, and how the gold mining industry supports Canada’s economy and local communities.

Canada’s Golden Geology and Production

Gold is scattered across the Canadian landscape in a variety of gold mining regions and districts, with the most prolific located between Ontario and Québec.

The 2 billion year-old Archean greenstone belt that arcs through the centre of the Canadian shield provides the foundation for the Abitibi gold belt, which has produced more than 190Moz of gold.

Gold Mining District/RegionProvinces/TerritoriesGold Produced (million troy ounces)
Abitibi Greenstone BeltOntario and Québec>190Moz
Trans-Hudson CorridorSaskatchewan and Manitoba>40Moz
Red LakeOntario>30Moz
Golden TriangleBritish Columbia>5Moz

Source: Resource World

The Trans-Hudson corridor in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has produced more than 40Moz of gold, while the Red Lake mining district of eastern Ontario and the Golden Triangle in British Columbia have delivered >30Moz and >5Moz respectively.

Last year, Canada’s top 10 mines produced 3.26 million ounces of gold combined, equating to more than $6 billion worth of the yellow precious metal.

MineProvince/TerritoryPrimary Owner/Operator2020 Gold Production (thousand troy ounces)
Canadian MalarticQuébecYamana/Agnico Eagle569Koz
Detour LakeOntarioKirkland Lake517Koz
LaRonde (incl. LZ5)QuébecAgnico Eagle350Koz
BrucejackBritish ColumbiaPretium348Koz
PorcupineOntarioNewmont319Koz
MeliadineNunavutAgnico Eagle312Koz
Rainy RiverOntarioNew Gold229Koz
HemloOntarioBarrick Gold223Koz
MeadowbankNunavutAgnico Eagle209Koz
MacassaOntarioKirkland Lake183Koz

Source: Kitco

Ontario and Québec are the powerhouse provinces of Canadian gold production, hosting 30 mines between the two provinces.

A Nation Built for Gold Mining

Canada’s politically secure nature and established permitting process has resulted in five of the 10 largest gold mining companies having projects in Canada. Three Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Québec, and Newfoundland & Labrador) are among the world’s 10 most attractive mining investment jurisdictions according to the Fraser Institute’s 2020 survey of mining companies.

Beyond the legal and permitting strengths of the nation, Canada’s extensive network of capital markets has enabled the Canadian companies to dominate the world’s gold mining industry. With Agnico Eagle and Kirkland Lake’s upcoming merger, three of the world’s top five gold mining companies will be headquartered in Canada.

The Canadian equity markets are a key driver of the world’s gold exploration and development funding, with the TSX having raised $7.5 billion in mining equity capital in 2020. Gold still remains the major driver of these money flows, with gold mining companies making up more than half of Canada’s mining exploration budget.

How Gold Mining Gives Back to Canada

Ever since the first discoveries of gold across Canada in the 1800s, the development and production of gold mines has been the foundation for many towns and merchants across the nation.

Today, Canada’s mining industry directly employs more than 392,000 Canadians, with the sector offering the highest average annual industrial rate of pay in the country at $123,000. The industry is also proportionally the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

From the nation’s prolific gold deposits to its network of funding through robust public markets for mining equities, gold mining has grown into one of Canada’s most important strengths. The discovery, development, and production of the precious metal will remain an essential pillar of Canada’s economy.

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