Asset managers have been talking about the importance of having better alignment between distribution and marketing for years. Yet, organizational structures and cultural differences have presented challenges to effective collaboration across sales, marketing, national accounts and product teams at many firms. Based on our annual CMO Roundtable and Distribution Summit last month, that finally appears to be changing.
For the first time, we scheduled the events back-to-back with the CMO Roundtable featuring one session with a panel of asset management distribution executives, and the Distribution Summit featuring a session with a panel of industry CMOs, giving both groups a chance to hear from each other. The theme that consistently emerged over both days of discussion was the importance of working together to deliver a consistent and compelling customer experience.
To create compelling customer experiences, asset managers are:
- Designing engagement strategies to facilitate customer decision journeys.
- Restructuring their organizations around customer segments.
- Creating content that captures customers’ attention.
Designing Engagement Strategies to Facilitate Customer Journeys
Although leading asset managers have been designing their advisor engagement strategies around the customer journey for some time, many firms have been slower to jump on the bandwagon. However, based on discussions at the recent SS&C events, it seems the advisor journey concept has now passed a critical inflection point, with almost all firms now recognizing the importance of adopting a journey-driven approach to advisor engagement.
Despite this, firms are still at very different stages when it comes to acting on this concept. A few well-resourced innovators have implemented highly data-driven, robust processes to deliver a “one firm experience” to the customer. Meanwhile, other firms continue to grapple with the challenges of developing customer journey maps and accurately tracking customer interactions.
Restructuring Organizations Around Customer Segments
Another key theme that emerged from both of the recent events is a trend towards breaking down traditional personnel silos, with the goal of delivering a superior customer experience. Some firms are taking incremental steps in this direction, for example by combining their retail and institutional marketing teams. Meanwhile, other firms have made sweeping organizational changes that represent a significant break with industry tradition, such as implementing multi-functional “pods” for specific customer segments that include sales and marketing personnel, as well as web and tech staff.
Creating Content that Captures Customers’ Attention
Understanding advisor journeys is critical, but it’s only part of the picture for asset managers. As one CMO described, every asset manager is essentially competing for “slices of time.” Advisors and investors are busy, and in order to capture a valuable slice of time, firms must give them a good reason to engage with the right content that converts to engagement. Executives on both sides talked about focusing on the human side of the things that make people want to do business with you, the importance of personalizing content, and the need to tell more visual stories, in multiple formats. Several firms also highlighted the need for simplicity and pointed out that simplicity and sophistication are not mutually exclusive.
Notably, the discussions at both the CMO and Distribution events suggested a significant cultural shift has taken place, with the majority of firms now viewing sales and marketing as integral parts of a unified distribution effort aimed at creating a holistic experience for the firm’s clients and prospects.
Written by Saadiah Freeman
Product Manager, Research & Consulting