Standing out in a positive way in the world of wealth and asset management isn’t easy. We take it as a given that standing out in a bad way is not a goal any manager is pursuing, but with increased commoditization, market volatility and other challenges, it may seem that positive differentiation is like finding the elusive needle in the haystack.
Won’t get fooled again
Managers appear to have learned a lesson from the Financial Crisis period. During that time, some firms, reluctant to face their clients when things were going badly, chose to go “radio silent.” Those firms that did bite the bullet, however, and communicated with their clients, even if the message was that they were adhering to their long-term strategic allocation (i.e., “doing nothing”) benefitted from increased client confidence and retention. Expanding communications have taken various forms, reflecting the different client/prospect preference for consumption, including email, social media, videos, webinars, events and other touchpoints.
Thought leadership front and center
Perhaps the most explicit manifestation of this trend is the next generation of website development, where thought leadership is beginning to take top billing in placement and amount of real estate. For example, UBS’ Wealth Management website, perhaps the most extreme example of this trend, is virtually all thought leadership from the top to the bottom of the website, with only the nav bars in the header and the footer leading directly to product/solutions information and the ability in a right hand column to find an advisor. The offerings include:
○ 2019 Outlook
○ Insights from Global Wealth Management Head and CIO and ability to follow them on LinkedIn
○ General and niche (business owners, women, etc.) specific insights
○ UBS publications (Investor Watch)
○ Market perspectives
○ Asset class and ESG perspectives
○ Press releases
Other major wealth managers that do a good job of highlighting thought leadership include Morgan Stanley, BNY Mellon and Deutsche Bank. On the asset management side, firms such as PIMCO and BlackRock have long been proponents of thought leadership promotion.
A trend that’s here to stay
We anticipate that firms will continue to seek to differentiate themselves through communications and thought leadership, and their use of multiple media and short sound bites of key points represents the most effective way to reach a busy and easily distracted audience.