Most asset managers are now aware that business intelligence is not an optional extra, especially when it comes to distribution strategy. Despite this, business intelligence has primarily been viewed as a support function within many firms’ distribution organizations, responsible for providing leaders with on-demand analytics that they can use to help drive strategic decisions. This status quo is being shaken up, as leading asset managers are realizing that the best distribution strategies are those that integrate business intelligence into every step of the process. In today’s world, the age-old questions of which advisors to cover, which resources to deploy, and when to contact them can no longer be answered effectively without robust data and analytics.
One area in which the value of integrated business intelligence can clearly be seen is that of sales team structure and composition. As firms begin to experiment with flex distribution models, matching sales resources to advisors based on value, opportunity, and fit rather than simply on geographic location, decisions about sales team composition become more complex and involve more variables.
Understanding which advisors a firm should target, and how best to target them, can impact not only the design of territories and rotations (as in the past) but also the types of people a distribution team should hire and how many people should be hired into each role. For example, a firm whose target advisors are mostly large RIAs concentrated in major money centers would need a very different type of sales force than a firm whose products are most likely to find favor with mid-sized, tech-savvy advisors scattered around the country. Firms which see business intelligence as an afterthought could easily find themselves trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, matching advisors with sales professionals who aren’t ideally qualified to cover them. Integrating business intelligence into distribution strategy at the highest level ensures that even the most macro-level decisions – like how the sales team should be structured – are guided by robust analytics.
In brief, as distribution evolves and becomes more complex and sophisticated, firms that want to stay competitive need to see business intelligence not simply as an input into distribution strategy, but as the engine driving that strategy. For many firms, this will require a shift to a mindset in which the business intelligence function is no longer subordinate to Sales, Marketing, and National Accounts, but instead is an equal partner in the development of distribution strategy.
Research, Analytics, and Consulting