Stalwart Leadership in a Conflicted World

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The “new normal” catch phrase emerged after the Great Recession, marking a new era in investment management. Predictions of high correlations, muted returns, increased volatility and sustained low interest rates were true for a period. But fast-forward to 2017, and this period seems to have come to an end. Correlations have declined, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 20,000, the VIX stabilized and the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates in a show of confidence in the strength of the US economy. One could use the term “utopian,” perhaps, for characterization of recent market events.

At the same time, US politics has deeply divided the country across economic, gender, racial, religious and philosophical lines. Trust in political leadership is at an all-time low, and book sales of George Orwell’s 1984 are near all-time highs. Many view the current landscape as a “political dystopia.”

The timing of our US Institutional Investor Brandscape® survey, released to clients today, catches institutional investors at the intersection of this market utopia and political dystopia. In a world conflicted, these institutions are the epitome of stalwartness. They are resolute when there is anxiety all around them and within, yet they are also optimistic and welcoming to new ideas that will further their mission. It is this stability, predictability and openness that makes institutional investors invaluable to asset managers as a target market.

Watch a replay of Uncertainty Shifting the Institutional Market for a deeper look at some of this year’s findings.
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Bridget Bearden

About Bridget Bearden

Bridget Bearden is a vice president in the syndicated division of Market Strategies International, where she concentrates on retirement and institutional research. Over the past decade, she has helped the top 100 investment managers refine their distribution, marketing and product strategies. Prior to joining Market Strategies, Bridget founded Strooga Consulting, a market research firm specializing in fiduciary investing. She also served as director of retirement research at Strategic Insight. There, she oversaw research for the $7 trillion defined contribution market, contributed regularly to PLANSPONSOR/PLANADVISER magazines, and presented retirement market analysis at dozens of industry conferences. Her research and analyses have been submitted in various forms to the White House, the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission. She is a member of Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association and is on the Retirement Research Board. She has an MBA and is a PhD candidate in public policy at UMass Boston.

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