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Digital Services in Asset Management: The Missing Link

Delight advisers with deeper digital engagement

Asset managers aim to help customers support their financial life goals – from buying a house, sending kids to college, to enjoying retirement and leaving a legacy. Given this important role in the lives of customers, there is opportunity in the industry to create a greater impact with the help of digital services. To unlock this potential, asset managers must re-evaluate their relationship and interactions with advisors. By implementing digital services and tools that add value in their advisers’ journeys, asset managers can deepen digital engagement that will ultimately serve their end customers.

Author

Nicole Tovstiga

Content Strategist

Asset managers that delight customers will thrive. A recent example is Macquarie Asset Management’s launch of The Sharpe Advisor, a tool designed to help financial advisers master alternative investment education through a variety of media including video, webinars and written thought leadership. Specialized digital resources such as these arm advisers to better serve their clients.

The Opportunity

The key to customer orientation for asset managers is to examine the outcomes for the customer versus the product performance. Asset managers typically don’t have a direct relationship with retail investors. Advisers have the direct relationship with investors and exert a much greater influence on investors’ cash flows and allocations into specific investments, which significantly impact investor returns. Advisers, here, are the driving force. The need to nurture the relationships with advisers is further informed by a recent survey by Broadridge indicating that advisers expect more help from asset managers – through engagement, education and enablement.

Getting Started: Find the Value Gap

A value-oriented approach involves identifying white space where traditional ways of supporting advisers have significant gaps. This is where digital services and experiences can shine the brightest.

Here are a few aspects to consider:

1. Who are we going to add value for?

  • Identify high-value advisers not being covered adequately: an adviser’s client assets, location or specialization may be reasons for underserving them in the past. In addition to the traditional ‘boots on the ground’ method, many others can be served digitally and remotely.
  • Consider the varying needs of different behavioural segments among advisers: some advisers may value a rich self-service experience while others may value the ability to easily schedule a call with a wholesaler or an investment specialist.

2. How are we going to add value?

  • Find ways to add value to an adviser’s practice: many advisers are on course to reduce their reliance on external wholesalers in the last two years, down to four on an average. There is a need to deepen relationships and add value quickly to differentiate oneself. The quality of the interactions plays a key role in this dynamic in securing mindshare among advisers.
  • Help advisers grow their practice: most advisers now use portfolio solutions, such as model portfolios and custom indexing, for good reason. This benefits the advisers in reducing overheads for each client and grow their practices while applying a consistent approach for client portfolios.
  • Consider all touch points with an adviser holistically: it is not sufficient to look at the adviser experience just on the web or app. The advisors, as individuals, don’t segregate their experience with an asset manager by channel. The interactions with an adviser, though non-linear in time, need to be connected across channels and must be aware of prior interactions and what an asset manager can offer them on their journey.
  • Pay attention to the relevance of the content offered: different forms of content for advisers – short articles, longer whitepapers, audio/video, tools, infographics display ads – everything must be relevant to them. What an asset manager knows about them first hand and what they can learn about them from third-party data can be invaluable in a world of information overload.

3. Who do we need to enable to add value and how?

  • Last but not the least, improving sales and marketing teams’ efficacy is key: for sales teams, making content available, intelligent content discovery, reducing friction in the pre/in/post- meeting experience that allows advisers to focus on telling the right stories, are some ways to improve efficacy. For marketing teams, the equivalent is clear focus on specific customer segments, access to rich customer information and insights, digital marketing automation, and reducing the effort for repetitive content production. Sales and marketing enablement and customer data platforms are helpful.

How to Get it Done: Distribution-led Transformation

Getting something transformative of this nature done requires a combination of what Publicis Sapient calls SPEED capabilities, strung together in an agile approach.

  • Strategy Icon

    Developing and testing your hypothesis on priority value pools

    Product Icon

    Evolving at pace and scale

    Experience Icon

    Enabling value realization for customers

    Engineering Icon

    Delivering on your promise, at pace, and at scale

    Data and AI Icon

    Validating your hypothesis and uncovering insights for constant iteration

When Publicis Sapient partnered with the distribution arm of a large global asset manager, they were ready to embrace a distribution-led transformation via the SPEED capabilities. One of the initiatives started with the hypothesis that wholesalers can remotely support an important set of advisers in conjunction with self-serve capabilities on the web and mobile app. Strategy capability is geared to identify white spaces to play. This is based on an outside-in and inside-out analysis of the customers, the business and the capabilities.

Experiments were conducted with a handful of wholesalers and a pilot was launched to reimagine an interactive version of a small body of highly used static content and build that out. Designing a simple and intuitive experience with frequent input and validation from the control group played a big role. The emphasis was to focus on helping the user realize value rather than creating something shiny that lacks substance.

Making the pilot available in the field for the control group and gathering basic analytics on the usage of interactive content provided substantiation of the potential. Even with limited training and no top-down mandate, the shift from using a bunch of different pieces of static content to immersive, interactive content was very quick. Product capability helps manage the priorities of different stakeholders and set up the execution of the digital service buildout and evolution for success.

Engineering teams operate in close collaboration with experience and product teams to bring the digital service to life. Portability and maintainability of the front- end code is often an important consideration. The team made implementation choices keeping these considerations in mind. Since a lot of the interactions are based on investment data, the team is streamlining the process of periodic data updates so that the interactive content has a much longer shelf life as compared to its static cousins.

‘Dataful’ digital experiences generate meaningful data and improve themselves based on data and analytics. The success of this service is obvious from the analytics on the use of interactive content which now makes up much of the most commonly used content by sales teams.

This service contributed to ensuring strong sales performance even in the most challenging of times during the pandemic. Looking ahead, there’s a lot more potential to be realized by integrating it with other capabilities that support virtual engagement and bringing interactive content into the mainstream self-serve web experiences.

Conclusion

Asset management firms are going through a distribution-led transformation. The retirement readiness and broader financial wellness of millions of people is at stake. Asset managers can proactively help advisers bridge the gap between investor returns and fund returns. The prize is trillions in investable assets. Now is the time for them to unlock tremendous value with the effective use of SPEED capabilities in service of creating digital services that enable their marketing and sales teams and delight advisors.

Sachin Garg
Sachin Garg
Asset & Wealth Management Distribution Lead

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