Market Research

Access to information and data drives effective decisions that will succeed in the marketplace.

Optima Group has been helping leading financial services providers refine and enhance their products and service offerings for three decades. We assist our clients in a wide range of qualitative and quantitative market research, including industry trend analysis, competitive benchmarking, product evaluation, and segmentation. Our senior research professionals leverage their many years of industry experience and expertise to analyze and assess the impact of internal and external factors and develop practical, impactful solutions.

Our research ranges from large scale quantitative surveys, qualitative research, including focus groups, triads, dyads and one-on-one interviews, competitive analysis, in-depth product and service delivery model analysis, test and mystery shopping and client segmentation.

Market Research Case Studies
A leading retirement services and recordkeeping/plan administration firm wanted to conduct a survey focused on compensation and benefits trends among mid-sized employers nationally.

Optima Group worked with the company’s internal research staff to draft a questionnaire, identify and recruit a representative sample of nearly 1,000 respondent firms, implement the survey electronically via the web, and compile and report the results in final form for publication. The survey report was published on the firm’s website and became the leading element of a broader effort to rebrand the firm and legitimize itself as a thought leader in the retirement market.

A leading national broker-dealer wanted to test the viability of a new financial planning and investment delivery concept targeted at the underserved mass market.

Optima Group designed a two tiered research program that combined a series of regional focus groups with large sample, follow-up electronic surveys. Key product concepts were first tested qualitatively in focus groups and one-on-one interviews made up of closely screened, mass market participants. Favorably received concepts were then tested on a broader population through online surveys. Optima Group analysts interpreted the results and applied them to the redesign of the original product proposal. The resulting product is now the foundation of a newly created, separately branded mass market subsidiary of the national broker-dealer.

One of the largest intermediary sold mutual fund companies wanted to conduct an assessment of their institutional marketing materials.

Optima Group developed an in-depth questionnaire to test whether a mutual fund company’s reports met baseline business requirements and were consistent with standards of competitive, best-in-class materials. Senior researchers, with significant experience in the institutional investment market, conducted 15 in-depth interviews with leading institutional consultants and clients. The findings were reported in conjunction with a competitive audit of the marketing/communications materials of five leading competitors. Together, the findings were used to guide a redesign of key program elements.

This company also wanted to test the impact of their marketing materials within their intermediary distribution channel. Optima Group designed a targeted questionnaire integrating samples of competitive materials for comparison. Interviews were conducted in person, one-on-one, with a national sample of 100 top producing brokers and financial advisors. The analysis of the results led to a clear roadmap for the redesign of existing materials focused on key points of interest of the lead producers in the field.

A leading provider of financial services to the ultra-high-net-worth market wanted to ensure that its value proposition and brand message were adequately differentiated in a competitive marketplace and compatible with the demand of its target market.

Optima Group recommended a multi-level research approach to answer these questions. This included an initial competitive audit of the branding, value proposition and service offerings of a representative sample of key competitors. Next, to test the market’s perception of the firm, we conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with client-facing internal wealth management teams, existing clients and prospects, and key centers of influence. The findings clearly identified both the strengths and weaknesses of the brand and were essential in setting forward-looking brand strategies.

A leading super-regional bank with a growing wealth management offering was interested in understanding the competitive environment for private banking in its market footprint.

To assist in this effort, Optima Group mapped out a test shopping exercise targeting a pre-selected group of leading providers including global private banks, regional RIAs and other super-regional bank programs. Several branches of each competitor were shopped by multiple individuals representing various wealth levels. Information covering a range of key point-of-sale elements such as lead products, pricing, office environment, and client profiling were collected and reported in comparative grids. Also, by mapping the client’s offering relative to that of the competitors, we were able to identify key strengths and weaknesses, as well as uncover the market “white space” opportunity.

A diversified financial services firm, offering institutional investment management to middle market companies, wanted to refine its business strategy and product offering in light of shifting market trends and competitive challenges.

Optima Group provided research outlining critical developments in investment services for middle market institutions with a particular focus on OCIO offerings and LDI strategies. This research was supplemented by a detailed audit of key competitors in the space that included institutional and benefits consultants, wirehouses, fixed income specialists, and fund managers. The audit documented the increasing involvement of these firms in OCIO and LDI, and provided an essential overview of the competitive marketplace for middle market, institutional investment management. Based on these findings, Optima Group outlined a new strategic direction for our client that included a shift in product focus, revised positioning and a closer alignment of services with evolving client expectations.

A mutli-line, institutional investment manager wanted to identify the principal factors driving client acquisition and retention in the mid- to large-market, institutional asset management business to serve as a foundation for new strategic initiatives.

Optima Group proposed a two-stage research effort designed to uncover the key sales drivers motivating specific segments of the institutional market to purchase and retain asset management services. The first stage involved an in-depth competitive audit of leading providers in the single mandate, bundled 401K and mid-size institutional, OCIO markets covering products/services, pricing, performance and delivery. The second stage called for targeted surveys/interviews with institutional investors and intermediaries to identify key purchase decision drivers. The combined findings of these research efforts provided critical insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s current offering, as well as a firm foundation for intermediate and longer-term strategic decision making.

A national provider of 401k plans wanted to increase its growth rate and maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly commoditized business.

Optima Group engaged in a detailed analysis of our client’s program including investments, operations, client service, distribution, and communications. We compared these findings with in-depth information on the offerings of industry leaders, new entrants into the business, and firms we identified as employing innovative approaches to products or technologies. The result was an informative gap analysis highlighting our client’s current relative strengths and weaknesses. A further effort was made to determine the actual or potential market value of new developments among industry players and to determine the import of these developments for our client’s program.