For several years, we have surveyed financial advisors (in association with Horsesmouth) to understand the effects that digital experiences provided by asset managers have on their attitudes and behaviors toward these firms. Each year, we have seen the importance grow. In fact, this year a whopping 80% of advisors say that the digital experience provided by asset managers affects the perception of the entirety of a firm’s capabilities (climbing from 58.7% in 2015 and 72.8% in 2016).
But since it is difficult for executives and their teams to base significant investments (in resources, time, and dollars) on just perception, we decided to look for trends in sales data when combined with digital engagement and traditional sales contact – to give clients an idea of how and when digital has an effect on sales. We call this our Research, Analytics, and Consulting’s “Sales Lift.”
Digital engagement + traditional coverage = sales lift
Source: DST Research, Analytics, and Consulting, LLC research 2017
In analyzing data from asset managers, we found that advisors who are engaged digitally and who are covered by wholesalers show sales lift that is 33% higher (than those who are not). Since the relationships in our lives, both professional and personal, have lots of digital components (texting, social media, email, and so on) but also still include face-to-face meetings, phone/video calls, and handshakes – marketers need to include traditional channels alongside digital when approaching customer experiences. It all matters. And it is all the more effective when working together.
We have published several reports and Digital Strategy Insights articles on the importance of personalizing messages and content to be as relevant as possible to customers. Advisors expect asset managers to apply what they know about them – with each interaction providing more information about their interests and needs. For example, a large percentage of advisors expect what they have told a wholesaler will be used to personalize content from that firm.
Who are industry leaders for digital engagement?
For our 2016 assessment, we decided to change our evaluation of the digital experiences asset managers provide. For many years prior, we evaluated websites provided for financial advisors only. But as expectations ratcheted up over multiple channels, and the importance of the collective digital experience has grown, we developed a proprietary methodology for scoring the totality of digital engagement – essentially analyzing how well asset managers provide features and functionality that advisors find useful, how relevant the experience is, how well the channels (web, email, and social) are stitched together, and what is being done to continue engagement to next steps along the advisor decision making journey.
At the end of 2017, we re-evaluated asset managers for digital engagement leadership, with some changes to advance the methodology. The top three industry-leading firms who continue to push the industry forward in including digital engagement in customer relationships are:
- Franklin Templeton Investments
- Putnam Investments
I want to be clear that there should be a sense of urgency for all asset management firms to invest in optimizing how digital can help to create and grow relationships with all types of customers. We have seen the gap between industry leaders and laggards grow significantly over the last 1-2 years. With the ability to quantify the effect that marketing efforts, including digital engagement, has on the business side of advisor relationships, it is essential to fill in the gaps of where digital is falling short in contributing to your relationships with customers.
Research, Analytics, and Consulting