Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strategic Marketing in Asset Management - Day 1 of the PAICR conference

Great presentation today by Jeffrey Margolis based on his white paper “Inside a Successful Asset Management Firm: Building and Executing a Premier Marketing Strategy and Organization.”


Despite the lengthy title, Jeffrey’s workshop made the potentially complex, simple. I wanted to share some of his very practical comments with you because I know many of our clients (and other readers) have questions about how marketing can, and should, work within their asset management firms.


It’s not a bad guide for other areas of financial services marketing as well!


First of all, how does Margolis define strategic marketing in asset management? Well it includes (and apologies for any liberties here as my notes are not be perfect) the following:


-          A definition of the firm’s capabilities and offerings: the core of what you do

-          Outlines the firm’s investment philosophy which must be:

o   Clearly articulated inside AND outside the firm

o   Understandable and repeatable

o   Provide a solid foundation from which strategies and offerings are developed

-          Defines the firm’s brand – who it is and what it offers – which evolves from soundly defined capabilities and offerings


Why bother with strategic marketing? According to Margolis we should evolve (and no one today felt they were there yet) to this way of managing marketing because…


1.       investment performance is no longer enough for success – strategic marketing is now crucial in the “new normal” market

2.       Articulated through a well-crafted plan, it helps managers reach goals

3.       It guides firms towards stated objectives – but beware marketing is only as strong as its continuous assessment against benchmarks and goals

4.       Designed to propel firms from good to great


Done well, Margolis believes a good marketing strategy can propel a firm from good to great.


So how to create such a strategy?


Start with a SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats assessment. Then, make sure you cover off the right plan elements:

1.       Strengths and weaknesses plus overall risks to the business

2.       Marketplace environment

3.       Product growth and retention projections

4.       Necessary resources


“Disciplined yet flexible” are words that came up again and again. Ideally the marketing plan is disciplined enough to set a strong direction and stop impulse decisions (hooray) but flexible enough to adapt to changes in market conditions, competitor activity or marketing context.


And Margolis’s top tip for improving the standing of the marketing function within the firm?


Do competitor analysis.


That analysis can include databases with investment statistics and track record, reviewing competitor presentation materials or RFPs (if you can get them!), looking at where the competition are, or are not competing. Then, bring those materials and the analysis, to the investment and sales team


Tips from participants?


-          Use SharePoint as a common platform for all inside the firm to share materials  – slide decks, previous RFP questionnaire,  and potentially current marketing materials

-          Talk to your peers – others in similar roles can stretch past the boundaries of competition to help with advice or experience around all sorts of topics


My favourite quote?


“Part of marketing’s responsibility is to really understand your audience.”




You can read the whole white paper on Jeffrey Margolis’s website.


Jeffrey was kind enough to offer to take PAICR members’ calls at any time for advice – I’m guessing that’s a somewhat limited offer in our time zone.

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