Italian intermediaries more likely to buy a fund from tried-and-tested and qualitative managers
Italian financial intermediaries are more likely to buy a fund from a manager who they perceive as tried and tested, qualitative and a partner as opposed to curious, quantitative and a supplier, according to research by Fundamental IQ, the research arm of Fundamental Media.
For the Global Brand Survey, Fundamental Media surveyed 768 financial intermediaries in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom during the first half of 2021. To understand their perception of asset managers’ brands, we apply our ‘brand equity index’ which was developed in 2016 using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods along five pillars: brand recall, familiarity, perceived quality, propensity to buy and distinctiveness.
The ‘propensity to buy’ score assesses the likelihood to increase the use of funds provided by that particular asset manager. When correlating this score with those from the other four brand factors, we see that Italian investment professionals’ view on a manager’s ability to generate returns is the main consideration when buying a fund, as ‘perceived quality’ has the strongest correlation to ‘propensity to buy’ followed by brand recall. This is in line with the findings in the other markets surveyed. The ‘perceived quality’ is the view of respondents regarding the ability of an asset manager to generate above-average returns. This can be influenced by coordinated sales, marketing and branding activity.
Note: The dots show the positioning of the 34 prompted companies across the two brand factors
Investment professionals were asked to mention which asset management companies they associate with fifteen different asset classes and management styles. Among a total of 2364 mentions, major international players dominated the brand recall ranking in Italy as they were by far the most mentioned across most asset classes. A few local players were only widely associated with Italian equities and passive management. A few specialised companies were often mentioned for specific asset classes and management styles such as real estate, alternatives and ESG. Multi-asset, emerging market equities and real estate saw major changes in ranking compared to 2018. On the other hand, associations with active management have become more defined and clustered around fewer key players.
An analysis of both prompted and unprompted brand values highlights that Italian investment professionals have a distinctive view of most asset managers, seeing most companies as broad, analytical, tried and tested, careful thinking, qualitative, corporate and supplier.
However, when it comes to preferences and the correlation between perceived values and propensity to buy, companies seen as more tried and tested and qualitative, as opposed to curious/imaginative and quantitative, are the favourites. Companies associated with these values were also more likely to attract positive comments compared to the others.
Italian financial intermediaries also have a preference for managers they consider to be like a partner as opposed to those viewed more like a supplier.
Respondents were asked to choose from opposing values, which were asked in pairs and as opposites (e.g. broad vs targeted; qualitative vs quantitative). A positive correlation with one value is therefore automatically a negative correlation with the opposite value.
Compared to 2018, tried and tested has overtaken qualitative as the value most strongly associated with propensity to buy, suggesting that investors are trusting well-established companies to help them through the current challenging environment.
Qualitative comments highlighted Italian intermediaries appreciate a good relationship with asset managers and salespeople along with regular and clear communication. A lack of advertising/marketing, poor websites and unresponsiveness were the main dislikes about asset managers’ communication. With regards to know-how, good risk management and excellence during phases of volatility along with expertise in niche markets/sectors were highly praised.
Compared to the other markets, Italian investment professionals have a stronger preference for tried-and-tested companies, as this value has a high correlation with ‘propensity to buy’. The results for France and Spain showed a lower positive correlation with this value, while the results for the UK and Germany showed a negative correlation; therefore, a preference for curious/imaginative companies.