Australian financial intermediaries are more likely to purchase a fund from a manager they perceive as being personable and having a qualitative approach rather than a manager who is perceived as corporate and with a quantitative approach, according to research by Fundamental IQ, the research arm of Fundamental Media.
For the Global Brand Survey report, we surveyed retail and wholesale financial intermediaries in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the US, Switzerland and Australia. To understand their perception of asset managers' brands, we have developed a 'brand equity index' 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 Australian financial intermediaries' view on asset managers' ability to generate returns is the main consideration when buying a fund, as 'perceived quality' has the strongest correlation to 'propensity to buy'. This is in line with the findings in the other markets surveyed.
However, unlike the other countries, 'distinctiveness' also plays a significant role for Australian fund managers when selecting a fund.
The 'distinctiveness' score encompasses fourteen prompted brand values and qualitative comments for each asset manager. But a high 'distinctiveness' score might not necessarily translate in a positive perception of the brand hence the lower impact¯on 'propensity to buy' compared to other brand factors.
In Australia, companies perceived as more personable or as having a more targeted approach showed a higher 'propensity to buy' compared to companies perceived as more corporate or as having a broader approach. Australian financial intermediaries also have a preference for managers perceived as using a tried and tested method and careful thinking/planning rather than companies perceived as being curious or imaginative and energetic/fast-paced.
Respondents were asked to choose from opposing values, which were asked in pairs and as opposites (e.g. broad vs targeted; quantitative vs qualitative). A positive correlation with one value is therefore automatically a negative correlation with the opposite value.
Compared to the other markets surveyed, Australian fund buyers only showed a slight preference for some of the brand values, as the table below shows. French financial intermediaries, for example, have a very strong preference for managers perceived as qualitative and a partner rather than those perceived as quantitative and a supplier.
Perceived quality is not only the main indicator of financial intermediaries' propensity to buy; it also stood out in our ranking of the leading asset management brands. The top-ranked manager in each market, including Australia, was also ranked highest on perceived quality, except in Spain where Bestinver received the highest ranking on perceived quality but ranked second on brand overall.
It is therefore imperative for managers to get across the message of quality by designing clear propositions and communications. Hence, capturing the distinctiveness of strategies, asset classes and the overall added value of an asset manager should be centre stage.