Recent conversations with asset management marketers highlighted that they agree on the need for more client insights, data and metrics
Several recent events with asset management marketing professionals showed a consensus on the need of a client-centric approach and for more research into client needs and behaviours, but also indicated marketing teams still very much work in a silo.
The events, which took place in different financial hubs across Europe, were aimed at marketing professionals working in the asset management industry to provide a platform to share knowledge and best practice. A major theme throughout all three events was the need to put the client at the centre of everything the marketer does. Several panels spoke about the need for more client research to better understand what clients want and need.
Practitioners from asset managers often mention the importance of remembering that B2B buyers are not robots. The buying journey for B2B might be different, but marketers are still communicating with humans. Asset managers’ messaging therefore needs to be interesting, relevant and meaningful. And if possible, also fun to consume.
From our research we have seen that most asset managers will spend their content resources to write articles to communicate with their audiences. However, we have also seen that there where an occasional asset manager makes its communication less wordy and more playful and interactive, the engagement with their content is significantly higher, with many more people in the target audience consuming the content. By using interactive ways to communicate, asset managers can provide users with an opportunity to interact with their messages. Results have shown much higher levels of engagement for animated and interactive ad units and landing pages.
Asset management marketers reflect on their own position
At one event, the conversation started by asking the audience how far marketing in asset management is from the cutting edge of marketing. More than half of the audience (57%) felt it’s five years behind, a third said it’s a decade behind and 10% said it’s not too far off from the cutting edge.
When discussing these findings compliance is often mentioned as an excuse for why marketing in asset management is lagging behind. We wonder whether that could be the main reason for this as companies like Apple and Samsung also have loads of compliance to adhere to and operate in way more countries than the average asset manager. Still, they manage to create engaging ways to communicate with their B2B audiences as well as their end customers.
Indeed, asset management marketing professionals operate in a heavily regulated industry and therefore need to carefully consider what they can’t say. Disruption is therefore often on how you say it rather than what you say. Marketers in asset management could therefore use tone of voice to stand out, with clear copy writing and relevant messaging. This is also least likely to be an issue with compliance.
For some, the numerous layers of approval in many asset management firms are to blame for its marketing being years from the cutting edge. Some asset management marketers need to get sign offs from dozens of people on their marketing campaigns. By doing a lot of stakeholder alignment at the start of a project, where the marketing team explains the strategy and objectives, everybody can be brought on board early on.
Numerous layers of decision-making are preventing many asset managers from being nimble in their marketing and often result in them responding too late to market trends. One example is the performance woes faced by global ESG strategies in 2022. While the poor performance became evident from around mid-2022 onwards, asset managers’ marketing departments responded slowly to this development and continued to promote their ESG capabilities throughout the remainder of the year. It was only in Q1 of 2023 that we started to see a marked decrease in asset managers promoting responsible investing.
Strong inter-departmental relationships
We see that some asset management marketers have a very strong relationship with their sales and portfolio management departments. In these firms, the struggles of the marketing team are aligned with the struggles of those teams, making the marketing campaigns and strategies more effective. However, we also noticed that some marketers struggle to incorporate the struggles of the company within their day-to-day planning.
Many asset management firms are facing difficulties at the moment. Last year, the UK asset management industry suffered its worst year on record with net outflows of £50.1 billion, while the US fund management industry saw a $5.5 trillion decline in assets under management.
These developments should be taken into account when asset managers position themselves in the market. High levels of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have resulted in retail investors withdrawing their investments, but our latest European end investor research shows a lot of uncertainty among retail investors about their financial future. This is a time where asset managers should step up to educate their clients on the benefits of long-term investing and to provide advice on how best to navigate these challenging times.
Across the board, we have noticed that asset management marketers are very committed to enhancing their alignment with other key functions like sales and portfolio management. They understand that that will make them much more effective in the long term.
A key aspect of that collaboration is to work together to help the company to find, retain and grow their customer base.