Press Release: Distinctive ‘squeezed middle’ brands rise up

26 March 2018
By MackayWilliams

Latest research on asset management brands in Europe

Unprecedented demand for innovative investment funds fired up interest in a vibrant breed of mid-tier groups in 2017, according to the latest rankings of Europe’s best crossborder brands in Fund Brand 50, now in its seventh year of analysis.

This new dynamic has done little as yet to disrupt the entrenched strength of Europe’s top three brands – BlackRock, JPMorgan and Fidelity – but smaller groups made their mark and are closing the distance between them and the industry goliaths. Pictet consolidated its fourth position with a solid increase in the brand score that determines the rankings. M&G advanced three places, ousting Invesco from sixth position.

‘The ability to tell a compelling story has become a key differentiator’ says Diana Mackay, Joint-CEO of MackayWilliams, ‘but it’s not just a matter of dispensing a good investment story. Those groups that made the most brand progress used their stories to reveal a purpose or conviction beyond the simple delivery of performance’.

Significantly, it was those managers in the alleged ‘squeezed middle’ that flourished, with appealing investment strategies and communications that were crafted to engage fund selectors and their clients. Robeco, Carmignac and PIMCO were all able to advance their brands in this way. Among the fastest rising brands were the French boutique, Sycomore that jumped into the rankings for the first time. Also advancing were crossborder stalwarts, T Rowe Price, Capital Group and Polar Capital, and the recently rebranded multi-affiliate group, Natixis. All had a common feature – a distinct offer and a connection with fund buyers linked to their commitment to investment excellence through an identifiable process, purpose or positioning.

The independent study* measures asset managers’ relative brand attractiveness based on fund selector perceptions across ten brand drivers to highlight leading cross-border brands. The research also examines the most successful third- party brands in each of Europe’s ten largest retail markets. Findings from this year’s study reveal that:

• Although its total brand score declined for the second year in a row, BlackRock stayed comfortably ahead of its nearest rivals.

• M&G and PIMCO are recovering strongly.

• Asset managers with an appealing, and distinct product offering, combined with a client focus were among the fastest rising groups.

• Local market specialists were a feature of the boutique brand rankings that included the triple winner, Lannebo Fonder, and a strong representation from France.

• The fund of funds distribution channel placed more emphasis on the stability and international status of asset managers than other distribution channels when evaluating brands.

Top 10 cross-border groups ranked by Total Brand Score

About the research

* The research is conducted by the Berlin based team of MackayWilliams. The Fund Brand 50 report is an annual study monitoring the influence of brand on third-party fund selection. The study is based on intensive interviews with around 1,000 of Europe’s most significant fund selectors in ten key markets. These selectors account for €3.2trn of third-party assets. Fund selectors are asked to name their top three suppliers based on ten brand drivers including: appealing investment strategy, client-orientated thinking, innovation and solidity. Using statistical analysis, answers to these and other preference questions are transformed into a ‘Total Brand Score’, on which groups are ranked.

For further information contact:

Diana Mackay, CEO +44 (0) 20 7232 4682

Simon Critchlow, Head of Sales +44 (0) 20 7232 4686 sc@mackaywilliams.