By Fiona Maciver
Continuing o from last month’s sales and account management theme, Fund Radar this month reviews fund buyers’ rankings of two contrasting and complementary communications methods: face- to-face delivery – via events – and the relatively new approach of social media. In recognition of the growing array of tools and channels at fund groups’ disposal when conveying their work, Fund Buyer Focus started tracking selectors’ views on these activities in late 2013. Here, we reveal the top five managers in each of the two categories.
▪ JP Morgan and BlackRock are the most highly rated event hosts across Europe.
▪ Events are the most valued marketing output among fund selectors – and particularly advisory channels.
▪ US groups lead in the integration of social media but European players are starting to catch up.
Before diving into any analysis, it is important to give some context on how Fund Buyer Focus evaluates the marketing and communication activities of fund groups.
To facilitate marketing strategy and planning, Fund Buyer Focus now measures 12 aspects of marketing in its work. The relative importance of each in calculating a group’s overall marketing and communications ranking is determined by asking respondents: ‘Which business aspects have a measurable impact on the Marketing and Communications rating of fund groups?’ Inevitably there are variations in priorities across distribution channels and countries. Looking at the aggregated responses of all selectors interviewed in Europe, it is clear to see that events resonate strongly as a marketing tool with fund selectors. Together with professional marketing material, events are of the highest importance in buyers’ evaluation of fund groups’ marketing efforts, while social/new media also score highly:
▪ Events of fund providers (=1st).
▪ Professional marketing material (=1st).
▪ Joint marketing activities (3rd).
▪ Use of social/new media (4th).
The main event
The larger cross-border groups inevitably dominate the rankings, with depth of budgets and market coverage enabling them to reach out to and satisfy a bigger audience. BlackRock, for example, appears among the top five in seven out of 10 local markets, with pole positions in the Netherlands and Switzerland. JP Morgan also demonstrates a high level of engagement and satisfaction across local markets. France is the exception, where only Pictet and M&G challenge the dominance of domestic players in the top five rankings. However, the relative importance of fund provider events in buyers’ marketing needs varies from market to market. In Germany, where the banks dominate distribution, public websites and professional marketing material are deemed more important. Conversely, the Dutch and the Italians place more significance on events, ranking this activity as the most important marketing output from fund providers.
Segmenting by distribution channel provides further insight. For example, insurance companies and retail banks have different marketing needs with websites and professional marketing materials viewed as much higher priorities than events. Advisory and discretionary channels, on the other hand, place more significance on events and road shows to support the overall relationship. This is reflected in the top five rankings filtered by these channels – JP Morgan displacing BlackRock from first position and Schroders replacing Franklin Templeton in fifth (see table2).
Asset managers receive much feedback from their event teams to know what works and what can be improved. Sifting through the distributor comments gathered by Fund Buyer Focus, three key ingredients become apparent: people, location and content. Arguably quite a simple mix and very similar to a good wedding!
People – Getting the right people at an event sounds like a fairly obvious must-have but distributor feedback enforces the need for quality speakers and the lure of meeting fund managers and key personnel in the flesh.
Location – While opinion will inevitably vary on the best venue in a particular city, distributors’ comments relate to both the geography and proximity of events. Firms that expand events and road shows beyond traditional financial hubs are well received. Larger players have been doing this for some time. In recent years, Italy has been a popular destination for managers such as Fidelity and Schroders to embark on extensive tours to build and strengthen relationships with advisers and private banks. The following comment from a Swiss discretionary manager encapsulates this need:
‘I would very much welcome it if there were more provider events here in the Bern region. Most of them occur in Zurich at the moment.’
Content – It goes without saying that the purpose and content need to be tailored to the audience for them to justify the time out of their schedules. The desire for more information and education has been a common theme across the distribution landscape for some time, particularly since 2008. Larger groups are satisfying this need through well-structured events in conjunction with other marketing initiatives.