Thinking Outside the Box to Engage Financial Advisors and Grow AUM

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Over the past couple of years, the way we live, work and communicate has been changed forever. The global pandemic left an indelible mark on the asset management landscape that requires new strategies for engaging both clients and employees. So how do asset managers attract and engage financial advisors and grow assets in a more distributed and remote workforce?

This topic was explored at length at the Spring 2022 IMEA conference in Chicago. Some of take-aways from the event are included in our tips below:

Meet advisors and employees where they are

Since the pandemic, advisors and employees alike want flexibility. Many financial advisors are taking advantage of working remotely and some have transitioned to telecommuting on a full-time basis. At the same time, your own sales and marketing teams may be off-site and geographically spread out. Successful distribution depends on meeting audiences where they are to engage on their terms. Older generations are more likely to be back in the office, while younger generations are more likely to prefer virtual engagements. One key piece of advice for asset managers: ask advisors how they want to engage, document it in the CRM, and – most importantly — honor their wishes. It’s still all about the relationship, but it needs to be personalized.

Focus on short, thoughtful content

Focus on thoughtful, valuable communication. One thing is clear – advisors do not appreciate the thousands of mass emails they receive from investment marketers each year. One panelist shared some current stats from Wells Fargo Advisors indicating that, on average, advisors receive 81 marketing emails per day (over 10,000 per year!) from asset management firms. It’s too much and a nuisance. Instead, advisors want 1-1 personalized email communications that are thoughtful and provide value. This means doing your research before reaching out, as you only get one shot to make a first impression. As for content, advisors want asset managers to ditch the long whitepapers in favor of short, value-packed content that can be consumed quickly.

Explore new products

Look to offer new vehicles and strategies that address investors’ current priorities, interests and demands. You might consider tax-efficient vehicles, such as ETFs, that address growing concern about an increase in capital gains rates, especially among high-net-worth investors. For example, over half of the firms surveyed in a 2021 Financial Advisor Survey said tax strategies have become a more important objective for their clients. Tax-efficient vehicles, such as ETFs, that address growing concerns about an increase in capital gains rates, especially among high-net-worth investors are being considered by asset managers. In addition, managers are developing portfolios that emphasize environmental, governance, and social (ESG) factors to appeal to the swelling ranks of investors who favor a sustainable or impact-investing approach.

Consider growth through M&A

Merging or acquiring another firm can immediately broaden your investment product line and help address the need to acquire additional skills and capabilities within your talent pool. At the same time, you can take advantage of your new partner’s access and penetration in different markets to reach more investors, including across geographies. What’s more, the higher AUM of the combined entity may allow you to meet the threshold assets required to be included on additional investment platforms.

Tap the value of your data

Today’s arms race in asset management isn’t about product; it’s about data. That’s because your data holds the answers to critical questions, including which products to market to which audiences and how. By extracting insight about which products and audiences represent the highest value opportunities, you can make smart decisions about where to invest time and talent. That’s why many asset managers are focusing on master data management (MDM) and hiring data scientists to extract distribution intelligence from their mountains of internal and external data.

Consider an investment database strategy

If the audience is institutional investors, reaching them often means identifying the right databases and consultants, and then doing the work of penetrating them. Increasingly, asset managers are looking for ways to enable a strong investment database strategy. This includes improving data quality and availability so that anyone in the firm has access to accurate and consistent data for populating databases or completing RFPs and DDQs.

Consider a TAMP strategy

While turnkey asset management programs (TAMPs) have been around for a while, they have experienced tremendous growth as of late. Managers are recognizing TAMPs as a conduit to gain broader access to advisors and improve their client experience. For example, UBS recently announced a partnership to distribute its alternatives solutions through the Envestnet and iCapital platforms. This partnership enables a fully digital subscription process for alternative investments including Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Client features and real-time reporting. Moves like this help firms to offer digital solutions to replace the historically paper-intensive, cumbersome experiences while strengthening advisor efficiency.

Embrace new channels

The pandemic accelerated the move to digital communications and forced firms to recognize social media as a legitimate sales channel. Firms are looking to evolve their strategy for LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Social media allows firms to tell their story more broadly and meet higher expectations for a cohesive digital experience. Video is another area that is proving to be quite effective in prospect and client outreach. It can be a short presentation by an SME or an animated overview embedded in a document or slide. These new forms of outreach can be distributed through social channels or through sales enablement platforms that provide valuable insights and analytics.

Brand yourself innovative

Financial advisors seek asset managers whose offerings support their own positioning to their end clients. Today’s investors are demanding creative solutions to complex problems. As such, advisors want to work with managers who invest in R&D and effectively illustrate their thinking about how to serve the investors of today AND the future. To be successful, asset managers must communicate a clear story that demonstrates innovation in products and services. Some asset managers are looking to hire CMOs from outside the industry in order to bring in fresh, new ideas about how to tell their story.

Align all distribution efforts (it’s not just sales anymore)

Distribution is no longer just sales, it’s one go-to-market function that incorporates sales, marketing, product, service, and business intelligence. Asset managers must break down departmental silos to deliver a superior client experience and grow AUM. In fact, a recent survey found that 80% of marketers have prioritized building their Martech platforms in an effort to improve results. Data, marketing, and sales enablement technologies are key to offering speed-to-market and the kind of personalization that’s required to meet employees and clients where they are. Leveraging digital communities and networking groups like the IMEA and SME Forum to learn and gain fresh ideas around selling in the new world.

Optimize marketing resources

Global regulations, particularly around data privacy, have made the work of marketers more challenging. At the same time, thinning margins and tight labor markets allow little room for waste. In this environment, every penny of marketing spend needs to be devoted exclusively to its highest and best use, and it may make sense to outsource certain functions that were once handled in house. Take a fresh look at client journeys, as well as the content and technology you need to efficiently attract new audiences and engage existing ones.

These trends, although influenced by the global pandemic, are a by-product of technological advancement. The world has dramatically changed, so asset managers must continue to re-evaluate their strategies, implement new digital sales and marketing tactics, and adopt technology to engage financial advisors and grow AUM.

Looking for a martech partner to help your investment firm automate and streamline your marketing and sales process? Contact us today for a complimentary strategy session.

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Chris is the Director of North American Sales at Synthesis Technology.


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