Advisor Survey Stresses Importance of Giving Advisors What They Want

For asset managers looking to grow AUM, knowing what your target market wants and delivering it the way it wants is the key to increasing advisor engagement. That was among the key findings of a FUSE Research Network survey of more than 600 advisors. The study also ranked asset management firms in several categories, including best image/reputation, most-read thought leaders, and website. Though the top-ranked leaders generally were the largest asset managers, the survey provides valuable insights for smaller firms seeking improved results from their marketing efforts.

American Funds Tops All Categories

Los Angeles-based American Funds ($1.9trn AUM) was ranked first in all three categories. The firm commands a strong following due to its commitment to delivering value in the digital experience, ensuring its clients get what they want. Among the resources American Funds brings to bear is a team of writers who work closely with investment professionals, researchers, and economists to generate timely content on geopolitical and market trends along with its Capital Ideas investment insights and practice management guides.

Key to its success is its constant measurement of the client experience across all digital channels, seeking to eliminate “friction points” and pinpointing the content interests of its audience. Through continuous feedback, American Funds is always learning what content advisors find valuable, what videos they watch to the end, and how they are navigating their website.

The Vanguard Group, Fidelity Investments, BlackRock, and JPMorgan Asset Management were among the leaders in all three categories.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Of particular interest to asset management firms is the deep dive the survey takes into advisor preferences for marketing and communications. Generally, advisors are looking for interactions that specifically target them, highlighting the importance of getting to know your target market. For example, nearly half of advisors from IBD and wirehouse channels view providing a speaker at company events as the best way to shape their opinions of asset managers, less than 30% of RIAs find it very useful. RIAs tend to prefer webinars over in-person meetings, which are favored by IBD and wirehouse advisors.

The least effective methods across all channels are digital advertisements, television ads, and generic emails, none of which garnered more than 4% approval in the survey. While advisors view emails from asset managers with whom they have an existing relationship as twice as effective as emails from unknown, they find any generic email containing product information or an invite to a webinar to be less effective.

In terms of content preferences, advisors are most interested in economic or market insights but rank retirement income distribution as a close second. Also near the top are programs or content offering business-building techniques. Topics centering on private wealth and high net-worth client management, as well as alternative investments, are ranked the lowest.

But again, the survey points out the critical importance of knowing your audience because topic interests differ widely by age and channel. For example, while older advisors may be interested in portfolio analysis, it wouldn’t hold much appeal for younger advisors. And, while wirehouse and IBD advisors are interested in generational wealth retention, it might not get the attention of RIAs.

Allocating Marketing Resources Wisely

Half of asset managers indicated they plan to increase their investments in marketing substantially to enhance their websites and boost their digital marketing and social media strategies. While smaller firms don’t have the level of resources as larger firms to pour into marketing, they can still focus their efforts on technology that enables them to identify and flag advisors based on the type of content and interactions they prefer. That way, they can direct the resources they do have to build their authority, stature, and engagement among the advisors they really need to reach.

Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. Click to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.