Successful business relationship management requires many skills – both technical and behavioural. With asset management firms facing buyers across multiple touch points, getting the balance right takes time and commitment. JP Morgan’s blend of people, information provision and general support forms the current benchmark for third-party asset managers operating in Europe, helped by its weighting towards the aspects most prized by distributors.
With so many variables involved, measuring the quality of sales and account management relationships is not an exact science. Gathering and retaining assets may be the ultimate measures of success, but relationships take time to build and feed into quantifiable results. Fund Buyer Focus regularly measures distributors’ perceptions of the effectiveness of asset managers’ sales and account management by reviewing nine aspects of this business area with interviewees. The impact of each aspect on the sales and account management process is evaluated by asking distributors: ‘Which business aspects have a measurable impact on the Sales and Account Management rankings of suppliers?’ Based on the latest Fund Buyer Focus data*:
The nine aspects are listed below with their importance ranking in brackets. This suggests that people, information flow and understanding distributors’ business needs have the biggest impact on assessing the effectiveness of the sales and account management relationship:
▪ Proactive information provision (=1st).
▪ Sales staff expertise (=1st).
▪ Scope of information provided (=1st).
▪ Understanding your business needs (=4th).
▪ Frequency of contact and visits (=4th).
Support for your sales force (=4th).
▪ Responsiveness (7th).
▪ Quality of contacts and visits (8th).
▪ Accessibility of sales staff (9th).
Sales and account management rankings
JP Morgan retained the crown for best delivery of sales and account management compared with the previous 12-month period. The firm’s commitment to supporting distributors, and equipping them with the tools they need, resonates well with buyers across the main European markets. The high level of medal awards from distributors ensured that JP Morgan stayed well ahead of its nearest rivals, BlackRock and Fidelity. Indeed, distributors are so impressed with JP Morgan’s service that they rank it number one for all nine measures of impact.
The composition of the top-10 pan-European table remained unchanged over the 12 months but there were some significant movements in rankings. Schroders moved up two places to fourth while M&G made the biggest leap, up four to fifth place. Strong support from Italy, France, Spain and the UK helped propel the firm up four places in the cross-border league. Reviewing the qualitative feedback from distributors, the quality and accessibility of sales people, combined with good information, were highlighted as common strengths.
Franklin Templeton also improved its ranking, the quality of people and information, together with a local presence, scoring favourably with distributors. At local- market level, it achieved a top-five ranking in Austria, Germany and Italy. The rise of some firms up the top-10 list understandably produced some fallers, the most notable being made the most progress, its ability to understand customer needs a key factor distilled from distributor comments.
With the exception of DeAWM and Swiss and Global Asset Management, the cohort of top ranking groups straddles both the retail and wholesale distribution channels. DeAWM achieved third position in the retail channel rankings while Swiss and Global was in 10th position in the wholesale rankings. DeAWM benefited in particular from its strong domestic support but also from a following in Austria and Spain.
At a domestic level, the top-rated managers are a mixture of local and cross-border players. DeAWM was ranked first in Germany and Austria. In Switzerland, UBS was in pole position while in France, Pictet topped the rankings ahead of domestic players. Carmignac only achieved fifth position in France but Spanish distributors were suitably charmed, rating the company as the top provider for sales and account management in Spain. In the UK, Schroders fought off tough domestic and cross- border competition to take the crown, ahead of M&G.
*Sourced from 945 fund selector interviews conducted between 01/08/2013 and 31/07/2014.