Fundamental Media Insights


Research insights

Changes in media usage among European institutional investors

English-language publications are read less by institutional investors in continental Europe

Key points:

  • The readership of English-language publications by institutional investors in continental Europe has declined since 2015, especially in France, research by Fundamental Media has found
  • The use of professional social media platforms among institutional investors is quite high, especially in France and the Netherlands
  • While the general trend of the decrease in print readership continues, the most-read specialist pension and institutional investor titles are still popular in print format in most markets

The readership of English-language publications by institutional investors in continental Europe has declined since 2015, especially in France, research by Fundamental Media has found. An exception is the Netherlands where online readership of English-language financial newspapers and websites has increased by almost 10%.

This decline may not necessarily be linked to the language, but to the fact that they are international titles. Because they need to focus on such a broad region with many different markets, they do not cover any market in the required depth.

Over the last two decades, a national trade media landscape has developed to cater for the audiences in their language about the topics that matter to them. The decline since 2015 is probably more pronounced in France, as it was one of the last markets where a dedicated local institutional platform emerged. On the other hand, the readership in the Netherlands has probably increased because their pension fund system is the most closely aligned to the Anglo-Saxon system.

Specialist pension and institutional investor publications dominate the top five most-read publications (excluding social media) in all surveyed markets except in France, where financial newspapers take the lead. There is a clear move towards online readership on desktop and mobile devices across all markets, especially for daily newspapers and general business titles.

The use of professional social media platforms among institutional investors is quite high, especially in France and the Netherlands. Even though institutional investors are always seen as rational people, only driven by data, this is untrue. They are people who engage as much on social media as the rest of the world. 

Between September 2019 and March 2020, Fundamental Research surveyed institutional investors in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, the US, Germany and France about their views on global trends, asset manager communication, manager selection, their media consumption habits, and their top asset manager brands.

Trade publications still popular in print format

While the general trend of the decrease in print readership continues, the most-read specialist pension and institutional investor titles are still popular in print format in most markets. Unable to compete on the news front, good trade media provide analysis of news and what it means for the industry, which are often long reads and print is perfectly suited for this information with a longer shelf life.

Apart from these commonalities across Europe, the research also found some distinct characteristics of institutional investors' media usage in each individual country.

In the UK, the overall increase in online media usage could be attributed mainly to mobile and tablet for daily newspapers and trade publications. We also saw a particularly noticeable decrease in print among specialist pension publications.

Unlike the other countries surveyed, there is a slight increase in print readership of trade publications among German institutional investors. Among the top five leading media in Germany, four are in print format and one is a TV news channel. German institutional investors read less media on their desktop, with the exception of the main specialist publications, but mobile readership has increased for both daily newspapers and trade publications. Professional social media usage in Germany is lower than in the other countries surveyed.

France has seen an overall increase in online readership for daily newspapers and trade publications by institutional investors, but an overall decline in the use of English-language media channels. A decline in the use of TV and radio is offset by an increase in investors accessing broadcasts via their phone. France also has the highest use of social media among institutional investors in Europe.

In the Netherlands, print readership has mainly decreased except for a few subscription-based trade publications. A decrease in readership of the country's leading financial newspaper was offset by an increase in mobile readership. The use of social media for professional purposes is high on both desktop and mobile.

Print publications are still popular among Swiss institutional investors, although there is a clear trend towards less print and more mobile. There has been a slight decrease in readership of English-language publications. Although slightly higher than in Germany, the social media usage of Swiss institutional investors is still lower than in other European countries.

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