What information do intermediaries want from asset managers?

A recent survey by Cerulli, in association with Incisive Media, has looked at the interaction between financial advisers and fund management groups. As well as presenting a rounded view of advice firms from an AUM and client volume perspective, the survey offers up an interesting view on brand perception. Invesco, Prudential and M&G have the best consumer facing brands, according to the research.

Most revealing, though, is the data on what content financial advisers seek from fund groups and how they can improve their marketing communication.

Fig 1: What content from fund groups do advisers find most useful?

Source: Cerulli Associates/Incisive Media

As seen in figure 1 (above) advisers still value market commentary ahead of other material. This corroborates with how we at Incisive Works, Incisive Media’s content marketing arm, advise our clients. Thought leadership in the form of market commentary allows companies to showcase their intellectual authority and keep their brands front-of-mind.

A fund group’s output, therefore, should index in this area (see figure 2, below) but decision content should not be ignored. So-called ‘decision content’ is a term we use to refer to any content piece that indicates a consideration to buy. As such, curators of this content benefit from actionable sales intelligence when the audience engages.

Fig 2: The balance of content

Source: Incisive Works

Keen to add some context to the data points in the Cerulli research, we asked some financial advisers and fund selectors for their opinion on the findings.

“Content should not be produced for content’s sake,” said Thomas Watts, a fund selector at the wealth manager Cumberland Place. He added that being spammed with cross-sector material is not ideal. Instead content needs to be “personalized” to a sector or geography that they are working on at the time.

Simon West is managing director of financial advice firm Hulbert West and says that “charts work well because they make it easy for our clients to understand the merits of different investments.” He adds that print is still a priority for them because their key client interaction rests on a series of bi-annual reports.

Aside from these reports West says “face-to-face is still the most efficient way of communicating but it’s not the most efficient way of running a business. So we can’t do that for all our clients.”

Finally, we spoke to Matthew Cove who is a partner at Throgmorton Private Capital. He says that his clients are most interested in information around volatile market events and this answer is replicated at scale: see the top response in figure 3 below.

Fig 3: How could asset managers improve their marketing communication?

Source: Cerulli Associates/Incisive Media

“Content that pre-empts and rationalises news events is good,” adds Cove. “It helps settle client nerves.” But this doesn’t mean fund houses should do away with the sector-focused, always-on content, he adds. “We like market commentary blogs, particularly M&G’s Bond Vigilantes.”

In the example of Bond Vigilantes, we can make the leap to say that, at least in part, M&G’s industry-renowned blog series has contributed to the brand’s top-three position when it comes to consumer brand perception. The blog posts are authoritative, easy to read and audience-focused.

And it’s in this audience-focused territory that we can pull a key learning from the survey. If fund groups get to really understand what themes matter to their buyers, and learn how to engage with those themes simply and in an agile way that can be shared with end investors, then they will have the beginnings of a productive conversation – and from there the beginnings of, perhaps, a productive relationship.

Written by Nick Laurance, Financial Content Strategist, Incisive Media

For further information on this research, or more details about Incisive Works and our content creation operation, please contact us here.