For Asset Managers, Segmentation Will Drive Distribution Gains

September 7, 2023 — Boston

To stand out, asset managers must effectively segment advisors and develop a hybrid approach to engagement

The volume of tools, events, and partnerships being offered to financial advisors through digital avenues has made it increasingly hard for asset managers to stand out. To truly differentiate from peers, asset managers must act purposefully with advanced segmentation and a timely, consistent, and flexible approach to digital and in-person engagement, according to The Cerulli Report—U.S. Intermediary Distribution 2023.

Asset managers are experiencing varying levels of difficulty when it comes to digitally engaging advisors across wealth tiers. High-net-worth (HNW)- and ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW)-focused teams remain notoriously difficult—over half of distribution executives perceive advisors at family offices (67%), private bank/trust companies (64%), and wirehouse firms (59%) to be very difficult to digitally engage. Conversely, only one-third of distribution executives perceive advisors at national/regional or independent broker/dealers to be very difficult.

The growth of marketing campaigns centered around blast emails in addition to normal wholesaler activity has greatly increased the volume of touchpoints advisors are hit with daily. Webinar/virtual meeting fatigue is also weighing heavily on financial advisors and across the industry—half of asset managers cite this as one of their biggest challenges related to digital engagement of advisors.

Any strategy for advisor engagement must include careful targeting and strategic execution. In conversations with Cerulli, most distribution executives agree there is something left to be desired regarding their advisor segmentation and coverage. Just over a third (38%) of asset managers believe their segmentation strategy determining wholesaler coverage is very effective, while 10% of firms admit their strategy is not effective at all.

“While asset managers can make a splash with the acquisition of a new tool or digital marketing platform, it’s no guarantee of success,” says Andrew Blake, associate director. “With effective segmentation, digital experiences, advertising, and other marketing mechanisms become even more valuable."

With the large volume of digital interactions advisors offered daily, Cerulli recommends that the cadence and content asset managers send are planned with close collaboration between data, sales, and marketing teams. “While the challenges of standing out with digital efforts alone are significant, it’s important that asset managers utilize a blend of personal relationships and digital touchpoints to reach and engage financial advisors,” says Blake. “Human interaction remains a key differentiator and the best source of gathering high quality, actionable data that will impact digital engagement initiatives positively,” he concludes.

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