Beyond the numbers: How brand influences asset manager selection
14 June 2023
Some might assume that when selecting an asset manager, the decision boils down simply to numbers. That assumption is incorrect. In fact, the numbers reflect a more nuanced process that involves a myriad of factors. Our recent survey of 100 C-suite individuals in the financial services and insurance sectors in the U.S. revealed that a variety of factors affect the selection of an asset manager. These results only serve to reinforce the recommendations in our recent Living Ratings that asset management firms must embrace the opportunity to stand out in a sector where so many brands are indistinguishable from each other.
The value in sharing your values
The most eye-opening result of the survey was that respondents were nearly unanimous in believing that brand plays a crucial role in distinguishing asset management firms from their competitors with 98% stating that they either 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed.' Our research showed that only 58% of asset managers state their brand positioning on their home page and only 43% have a distinctive visual language. This result should encourage those firms on the wrong side of those figures to take steps toward establishing a brand identity that is unique or risk letting prospective clients elect to take their business to a competitor that already has.
98% of respondents believe that brand plays a crucial role in distinguishing asset management firms from their competitors
It should come as no surprise to anyone that values and responsible investing influence the selection of an asset management firm by a prospective client. A stunning 87% of those surveyed said that a firm’s approach to responsible investing is 'very important' when considering them as a potential partner, and 98% said that they either 'agree' or 'strongly agree' that a firm’s core values are important. Our Living Ratings research showed that only 53% of the top 100 asset management firms share their core values on their website; it’s clear that firms need to do more to demonstrate their values and approach to investing.
98% said that they either 'agree' or 'strongly agree' that a firm’s core values are important
Mind the gap
If you have been following our Ratings over the past few years, you are already aware of the 'humanity gap' that persists despite our repeated advice to address it. This year we noted in our Ratings that only 6% of asset managers provide high quality people profiles. Why is this so alarming? Because 92% of respondents in our survey agreed that watching a video profile of the fund manager discussing investment philosophy and approach is an important factor in considering an asset management firm. This means that 94% of asset managers are ignoring this incredibly influential aspect of speaking to prospective clients on their website.
92% of respondents agreed that watching a video profile of the fund manager is an important factor in considering an asset management firm
Ultimately, it is content through which firms engage with prospective clients and influence their evaluation process. More often than not (51%), the website is the first place that prospects visit in their consideration phase. A high-quality user experience is critical. Users should be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. Yet, our Ratings revealed that only 11% of firms have advanced search functionality, and only 27% have advisor education content despite 80% of our survey respondents indicating that professional learning content is 'very important.'
Social media is another important piece of a holistic omni-channel content strategy. 78% of those surveyed responded that they use LinkedIn to receive company updates and 57% said they do so to gain insight from the CEO. Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram are used by 83% of respondents to get a sense of a firm’s culture and personality.
78% of those surveyed responded that they use LinkedIn to receive company updates from asset managers
Firms who assume they can rest on their laurels and financial numbers while neglecting brand and digital intelligence are playing a dangerous game. Our Living Ratings have demonstrated that many firms have a lot of work to do in this area, and our recent survey results only serve to reinforce the importance of brand development, use of digital technology, and delivery of consistently strong content across all channels in standing out from competitors and resonating with prospective clients.