Active, passive, fundamental, quantitative, enhanced indexing, smart beta; the list goes on. It’s a competitive market out there for the investor’s dollar and there is no shortage of product options or of arguments about which ones don’t work. Lagging international economic growth, the expectation that at some point the extended bull market in U.S. equities must end and the specter of rising interest rates loom on the horizon, serving to compound anxiety and make it more important than ever to present a cogent investment management story. When a value proposition is missing, it creates indecision and ultimately disengagement.
Too often, however, rather than honing the story and communicating what is different about a manager, marketers chose the “best defense is a good offense” strategy. Active management? It’s too expensive, and many managers are really “closet indexers.” Passive management? It may not work well in times of market volatility and drawdowns. Quantitative management? Too dependent on what might be poor quality or incorrect inputs. You get the idea.
In our opinion, this is not a successful way to market. It makes your audience question why you are not trying to communicate the value that you can add and may make them wonder what you are trying to hide. So tempting as it may be, avoid trashing the competition and focus, instead, on what makes your firm great, whether it’s the people, process, product, philosophy, price or a combination of characteristics.