The Key to Engaging Financial Advisors: Wholesalers, White Papers, and Podcasts

Are you curious about what truly captures the attention of financial advisors? Is it the skilled wholesalers’ persuasive narratives, the power of insightful thought leadership conveyed through advanced digital content, or perhaps a blend? Let’s delve into two recent surveys that illuminate this intriguing subject.

The Power of Wholesalers

A survey conducted by the Market Intelligence branch of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), as featured in Ignites, reveals that external wholesalers play a pivotal role in shaping advisors’ perceptions of brands. Surprisingly, they are outpacing thought leadership and websites, with approximately 60% of U.S. advisors endorsing them as “very effective” or “effective” in representing an asset manager’s brand. However, it’s important to note that not all advisors share this view – registered investment advisors ranked thought leadership higher than external wholesalers.

Wholesalers have always been the front line for asset managers, but their role is evolving. Today, it’s not just about selling products; it’s also about shaping brand perception. With the shift to virtual communications, digital content complements their outreach, creating a more holistic engagement strategy. This shift to digital has allowed wholesalers to focus more on the high-value advisors who need a phone call or meeting right now, increasing their overall efficiency.

Reflecting on this evolution, one client told me, “Our wholesalers focus on priority advisors. Our digital strategy helps our wholesalers be more effective and brings in new qualified leads for them to talk to.” This comment underscores the strategic shift in advisor engagement. With their expertise and personal touch, wholesalers are vital for nurturing relationships with priority advisors who require more personalized attention.

Generational Differences in Content Preferences

Simultaneously, the Fuse Research Network survey, showcased on, offers some intriguing insights. There are generational differences in financial advisors’ marketing content preferences. This suggests that advisors’ content preferences are not homogenous and vary significantly with age.

To provide some perspective: older financial advisors, ages 60 and up, prefer white papers, while the middle-aged group, ages 45 to 59, also lean towards white papers, albeit not as strongly. The younger group, ages 44 and under, favors blog posts and videos.

Understanding generational nuances in content preferences is crucial for effective advisor engagement. It’s interesting to see how older advisors lean toward in-depth content like white papers while younger advisors prioritize convenience and immediacy. They’re seeking engaging, accessible content that fits their digital-first approach.

However, the data implications of these content preferences are also worth noting. Shorter content snippets like blog posts and videos can provide multiple data points for tracking advisor engagement. They allow numerous click opportunities, giving asset managers a richer understanding of an advisor’s digital footprint. In comparison, while providing deep insights, a white paper only allows for a single point of engagement. This highlights the need for a balanced approach in content creation – mixing in-depth, long-form content with shorter, more interactive content forms.”

The Importance of Brand Assessment

An eye-opening statistic from the ISS survey shows that 86% of all advisors – and 90% of wirehouse advisors – assert that they will assess an asset manager’s brand before recommending the company to clients. This underscores the importance of a well-defined and communicated brand in the eyes of advisors.

It’s easy to focus on performance and overlook the importance of branding. However, advisors assess what asset managers do and who they are as a firm. This serves as a reminder that standing for something and communicating effectively with advisors matters. A strong brand can level the playing field with larger, better-known competitors.

To illustrate the power of a well-defined brand, I recall a client who initially focused on niche investment strategies. While this was a solid start, it was when they decided to pivot and concentrate their efforts on income-producing strategies across asset classes that they saw substantial advisor interest.

This shift allowed them to differentiate themselves in a crowded market and resonated with advisors seeking unique income solutions for their clients. It’s a testament to the impact of having a clear, compelling investment philosophy and the ability to communicate this to advisors.

The Holistic Approach to Branding

Despite the strong performance of wholesalers, it would be a mistake to overlook the importance of a holistic approach to branding. As Cindy Zarker, the Associate Director at ISS Market Intelligence, rightly points out, branding is a collaborative effort. Many branding tools exist beyond wholesalers, including digital experiences, advertising, and other branding messaging mechanisms.

Effective branding involves crafting a comprehensive and cohesive identity that resonates with advisors. While wholesalers play a key role in this, it’s ultimately a team effort that requires consistent messaging across all platforms.

In my due diligence on companies I am courting, I often discover disparate narratives across different platforms. The website may tell one story, the pitchbook another, and news articles yet another. Even wholesalers and portfolio managers may have versions of the ‘brand story.’

This disjointed communication can lead to confusion and mistrust among advisors. Ensuring that your brand’s story is compelling and consistent across all channels and representatives is essential. This consistency fosters trust and aids in building a strong, recognizable brand advisors can confidently recommend to their clients.

The Rising Popularity of Podcasts

And here’s another interesting finding – podcasts are emerging as a popular communication medium, with nearly 40% of advisors tuning in. Advisors listed JPMorgan’s “Making Sense” podcast, BlackRock’s “The Bid,” and Capital Group’s “Capital Ideas” among the best. However, it’s worth noting that, according to the Fuse Research Network, podcasts aren’t as popular with the older generation.

Podcasts offer a unique opportunity to reach advisors more personally and informally. They provide a platform for deeper dives into complex topics and a chance to showcase a firm’s thought leadership. And there are two ways to play this game – being a guest on high-profile investment podcasts or starting your own. The secret to a successful podcast? Keep it concise, engaging, and relevant. Once you’ve produced a podcast, sharing a digital multimedia summary can enhance advisor engagement.

A compelling example of the need for a comprehensive digital strategy came from a prospect interviewed on a popular investing podcast. They saw a massive spike in website traffic, with thousands of new visitors. However, much to their disappointment, they could not capitalize on this influx of potential interest. They needed to implement essential lead generation tools such as lead magnets, calls to action, landing pages, and forms that could have converted these visitors into prospects. Their wholesalers could have ultimately called on them.

The Key Takeaway

The key takeaway from all this? Engaging financial advisors is a multi-faceted endeavor, requiring the strategic blending of traditional and digital channels. As we’ve seen, the influence of wholesalers remains substantial, yet the power of well-executed digital content and thought leadership cannot be understated. Factor in the rise of podcasts and the importance of a consistent, compelling brand story, and the landscape becomes intricate but ripe with opportunity. The challenge for asset managers lies in navigating these complexities, understanding their audience’s preferences, and creating a balanced, tailored approach that resonates. Embracing this holistic strategy is essential in today’s fast-paced, digitally-driven world.

Are you a boutique asset manager looking to navigate these complexities? We’re here to guide you through this landscape. Let’s discuss how we can elevate your advisor engagement strategy. Contact to schedule a complimentary strategy session.