Trust and Authenticity Matter in Asset Management

Trust and authenticity are words most people associate with political campaigns. If you haven’t heard them before, just wait for the coming Presidential election frenzy. But what we’ve learned as communications practitioners is that these two concepts also matter in investing and asset management. In fact, a recent survey of big institutional investors showed that “trust in the brand” ranked higher in importance than “performance” when it came to picking money managers.

Last month, Greenwich Associates, the big consultant to pension funds, endowments and other institutions, published an important survey on why allocators pick the asset managers they partner with. It also asked institutional investors how they interacted with various forms of media. Here are the findings we found most interesting. (The full study is available here.)

  • 68% say they use social media (mainly LinkedIn) to research asset managers, up from 36% in their 2015 survey.
  • 86% say they take action on content they receive from asset managers.
  • The best media sources for “deep subject matter education” are:
    • Financial Times
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
  • 36% say “specific investment advice” is the content they like most from assets managers.
  • Content delivery platforms matter for different age groups:
    • Ages 20-29 prefer an audio (podcast) format or video.
    • Ages 30-39 prefer online HTML reports.
    • Ages 40-49 also prefer online reports viewable in HTML.
    • Ages 50-59 prefer downloadable PDFs.
  • For keeping track of individuals, survey respondents chose LinkedIn and Twitter.

The takeaway from the study is something we have long known as communications experts but have found lacking in the asset management community – building a brand takes a long time and a thoughtful and concerted strategy is a key component to competing in today’s market. Here’s a paragraph from the Greenwich study we found especially compelling:

A big pension fund isn’t going to allocate millions of dollars based on a single piece of research from an asset manager, of course. However, a track record of high quality, timely and relevant content will help ensure that an asset manager is top of mind and, consequently, invited to the table when a major decision is being made.

Once again, social media proved key at this final stage. Forty-three percent of investors participating in the study said that information learned via social media had influenced an investment recommendation or decision, compared to 35% based on information learned via news media. Meanwhile, information from social and news media was equally likely to influence a decision to work with a particular company or client.

For asset managers, whether they’re well established or just starting out, deciding whether to engage with the public is really no longer an option. Either you tell your story or someone else will, or even worse, it will never get told.

By Zach Kouwe, Senior Vice President


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