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BLOG. 3 min read

What is the Future of Distribution for Asset Management Organizations?

What is the future of distribution for asset management organizations? We posed this question to attendees of our 2018 Distribution Summit in New York. Following is a look at a few responses we received:

“Data is the first thing we need to have; we need to get our customer experience as seamless as possible.”

“The objective is better/more efficient coverage models with fewer resources.”

“If data is ubiquitous and all firms become more efficient, we need to be better at delivering value and building trust, execution of the sales model will matter most.”

"Everyone is used to Amazon Prime. Our industry isn't there, but it needs to get there."

It’s clear that senior distribution executives know they need to modernize. The organizations represented at our roundtable, however, have an array of profiles and differences across their current distribution footprints, organizational structures, cultures and histories in the retail intermediary wealth management market. Their paths to modernization will naturally take various routes and timeframes, and the opinions on how to get there are almost as plentiful.

Most are rethinking their sales paradigms, recognizing they must shift in order to remain competitive. As I wrote in part 1 of our blog series on “Measuring Your Sales Organization,” we believe sales organizations need to redefine their approach to several notable paradigms to the sales management process. These include:

  1. Determining who to cover
  2. Defining territories
  3. Managing the territory
  4. Defining sales roles
  5. Engaging with advisors

The path to sales modernization requires re-engineering sales coverage. This includes redefining sales roles (plus the inclusion of new roles in the sale process) as well as the alteration and improvement of advisor engagement. I’ll get to those later, but first, let’s discuss territories.  Why territories? Because defining and managing territories correctly (optimally) is a pre-cursor to how and who covers an advisor – a senior distribution must logically know the optimal number of territories and opportunities within those territories before they can right-size their sales effort. 

Different firms will take different approaches to the right-sizing effort but all need to consider foundation elements when redefining territories and deciding how to best manage them.

The foundational elements to the second and third paradigms – Defining Territories & Managing Territories – are based on getting the first paradigm (Determining Who to Cover) correct.  Optimizing territory designs and prioritizing advisor engagement cannot be done if the segmentation effort is not done first.


Old Paradigm

New Paradigm

Defining Territories

Geography accounts for the design and definition of territories.

Advisor segmentation determines how territories are defined and designed, breaking from traditional geographic boundaries.

Managing Territories

External wholesaler owns a territory and is supported by internal wholesalers. Success is measured by production.

A salesperson owns the territory, managing it through a team-based franchise model focused on the highly efficient execution of a clear business plan. Success is measured by profitability, production, asset growth and business diversification.


These new ‘territory’ paradigms require data and technology to lead design and shape where boundaries start and end (and perhaps overlap). Without a data-focused design mentality modernization will be very difficult, if not impossible. When it comes to territory management, production will not be the only measure of success. Revenue growth and profitability supersede production. Customer satisfaction, experience, advocacy and loyalty are new metrics to measure how well a territory is being managed versus activity and full calendar.  

Our new paradigm approach provides firms with a target, the destination if you will. The journey to get there may require some re-mapping along the way. It will be uncomfortable for many and require difficult decisions. But once that journey is initially mapped – and you’re committed to the destination – you’ll find customer experience gains, efficiency and better strategy execution.  Reimagining how territories are developed, defined and managed is critical in the modernization effort, with early movers gaining an edge in asset growth and retention.

Remember, this redefined, more modern sales organization heavily leverages data and technology, focuses greater attention on training and development (upskilling the sales team beyond relationship building and closing), brings customer experience to center stage, experiments with organizational structures, and revamps compensation plans to go after the right advisors – in the most profitable way.

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