How Energy Marketplaces Give Utilities More Control

Does the average person shop for energy products through their utility? We know that customer preferences for shopping, particularly for Millennials and Gen Xers, is shifting toward online or mobile phone and away from traditional “brick and mortar” stores—51% of Americans think shopping online is the best way to shop (source: Big Commerce). But, how does that translate for utilities? Consumers embrace new products, adapt to new services more quickly and spend significant time researching and comparing online shopping options prior to making purchases. Product reviews and word-of-mouth opinions carry more weight than ever, and visual representations including product displays are expected to “come alive” during the purchase process. Such changing consumer behavior requires that traditional marketing tactics evolve to meet these shifting consumer demands, and utilities are not the exception.Such changing consumer behavior requires that traditional marketing tactics evolve to meet these shifting consumer demands, and utilities are not the exception. Continue reading

European Pensions Jumping on ESG Bandwagon

Fact-Based Trends from Cogent Reports™    

European Pensions Jumping on ESG Bandwagon

If there were any doubt as to the appeal of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or Impact Investing in the European institutional market, it can now be put to rest. In a recent survey of defined benefit pension investors, Cogent Reports found that three-quarters or more of European pensions are likely to incorporate ESG investing in their portfolios within the next year. Moreover, this strong interest in ESG investing is evident across pensions of all asset sizes. Yet relatively few European institutions say they have already incorporated ESG or impact investing in their portfolios, suggesting that the category is poised for substantial growth.

A recent article* reported that Europe now accounts for over half (53%) of the $22.89 trillion in global sustainable investment assets. If the European pensions have anything to say about it, that number will quickly multiply, providing a welcome source of new assets to investment firms specializing in this area. Of particular interest to asset managers should be pensions in Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands, where Cogent found ESG investing earning the strongest appeal. Continue reading

Acquiring New Business in the DC Market

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

External forces confronting the 401(k) industry including the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, provider consolidation due to pricing pressure, and the heavy volume of litigation over excessive fees continue to push defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors to hone in on cost reduction and reevaluate expenses related to all aspects of plan administration and investments.

As such, acquiring new business in the DC market can be arduous, involving multiple influencers and decision-makers. Asset managers and plan providers often struggle to find the right combination of outreach to the various parties involved and, as a result, waste valuable time and resources. With those dynamics in mind, we are excited to kick off a qualitative research effort designed to better understand the process of evaluating and selecting DC plan providers and investment managers from three critical perspectives:

  • DC plan sponsors, those likely to switch plan providers and/or DC investment managers
  • Heavy DC advisors, DC specialists managing $50M+ in DC AUM
  • DC consultants, consultants focused heavily on serving the DC market

Continue reading

How Much SHOULD the iPhone X Cost?  

Market Strategies Releases Exclusive Price Point Analysis   

It’s September, which means the unofficial end of summer, football, a new school year…and a new iPhone release! But this year—the 10th anniversary of the iPhone—Apple is breaking the mold. Why?

  • As contracts have become virtually extinct, consumers are keeping their phones longer, creating a lengthier upgrade cycle. Apple needs to provide a more compelling reason to buy their product than simply, “it’s that time of year again.”
  • Apple has been criticized by some as losing its innovation edge by offering only minimal advancements. This new iPhone X model not only promises to create a new “premium” smartphone but also breaks up Apple’s typical two-year full upgrade cycle.

So, what is new and different about this phone that makes it so special?

Continue reading

Leverage TV to Reach National Advisors

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™     

Everyone in finance watches TV all day, whether the TV is on silently in the background or front and center in the middle of breaking news. Consequently, the battle between networks for Wall Street’s attention is fierce. And with the continuing decline in the ranks of financial advisors working in the United States (down 4% from 2015), reaching every extra pair of eyeballs matters in marketing to this high-in-demand, low-in-supply audience.

While the National channel is contracting at the same rate as the overall advisor population, the National wirehouse channel remains the second largest based on number of advisors, with National advisors maintaining substantially larger books of business than their peers in other channels (based on median AUM). Firms that can more efficiently reach advisors in this high-value channel will have a leg up on their competitors in building business throughout the purchase funnel. The Advisor Media Buying Guide™, a new report released last month, found that advisors in the National channel exhibit the greatest variety of TV viewership and that there are specific networks that will reach these advisors at well above-average levels. Continue reading

Advisor Reliance on Fee-based Comp Prompts Changes in Distribution Strategies

Fact-Based Trends from Cogent Reports™    

Advisor Reliance on Fee-based Compensation Prompts Changes in Distribution Strategies

The fee-based advisor segment is one of the only advisor segments that is growing, causing ripple effects on advisors’ product preferences. In Q1 of this year, four in ten (43%) advisors said they are predominantly fee-based (deriving at least 75% of their total compensation from asset-based fees). Most notably, nearly half (48%) of National wirehouse advisors report they are now predominantly fee-based, a significant increase from just over one-third (39%) last year. As National wirehouse advisors’ compensation models begin to more closely resemble RIAs’, we observe a corresponding decline in National wirehouse advisors’ allocations to actively managed investments, from 73% in 2015 to 67% this year.

In light of these trends, asset managers that have historically been more focused on commissioned advisors must now work to strengthen relationships with fee-based producers. Product providers are responding by adding new share classes and commission schedules in addition to promoting the value of active management in particular asset classes. Firms are also ramping up their engagement with gatekeepers at large brokers/dealers as industry observers anticipate a shift toward more fee-based managed account programs. Continue reading

The Key to Success in International Marketing? Location, location, location!

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

For US-based asset managers seeking to grow their institutional business overseas, the challenges are many. Asset managers deciding where to focus their efforts, which investment solutions to offer and how to differentiate their brands from those of the established local firms are all critical decisions. But the one consideration that dictates all others is location—determining which countries or regions to target. And what better way to decide where to set up shop than to pinpoint where demand for new managers is greatest?

Earlier this summer, Cogent asked pension investors across Europe how many new asset managers they anticipate adding to their lineups in the next 12 months. Encouragingly, European pensions remain interested in adding new managers to their lineups. Compared with 2014, more institutional investors are likely to add at least one manager to their lineups in the coming year. Opportunity appears greatest in the Netherlands, France and the UK. Similar to the US market, $1 billion-plus institutions are primarily driving the increased interest in new manager additions in the coming year, lending fuel to the strategies of many asset managers that are focusing on the upper end of the institutional market. Continue reading

Keeping Insurance Customers Satisfied After a Natural Catastrophe

Having just spent a long weekend in Central Oregon, I saw first-hand the haze of smoke from numerous forest fires filling the sky and listened to locals’ concerns about the progress of fires nearest them. This brought the routine news stories featuring a succession of natural disasters—from tropical storms along the Gulf Coast to wildfires across the Pacific Northwest to flooding in southern California—into sharp focus. Despite the certainty that these events will occur, forecasting when and where has become a multi-billion dollar business challenge for the US insurance industry. But one thing remains constant—each claim is experienced one household at a time by customers who never expected that it would happen to them.

Continue reading

Relevance, The #1 Rule When Developing New Products

Relevance, The #1 Rule When Developing New ProductsWhen launching a new product, many factors impact the success of the product: timing, marketing, ease of use, availability, price… I could go on. But, across the board, one factor makes or breaks the success of a new product: Relevance.

Now more than ever, a product not designed to fit into the lifestyle of the customer will fail. The only question in those cases is how long it will take! While this is true for any industry, this is particularly the case for the financial services industry. Additionally, as FinTech changes the landscape for financial services companies, the need for new and innovative products is significantly increasing. Continue reading

Brand Stickiness: Boosting Technology Brands’ Customer Loyalty and Retention

Brand Stickiness

It’s midsummer, the season of sticky-sweet treats like popsicles and saltwater taffy. Man, these treats are good—and fun, even reminding us of childhood summers and beachy weekends away. But their appeal—like summer’s sunny skies and lightening bugs—is ephemeral. When brands strive for “stickiness,” they’re not going for this quickly-fading sugar buzz. They’re striving to capture the attention and loyalty of consumers, ultimately to become a long-term favored brand. And this long-term loyalty is really tough to achieve these days. In a time when we’re seeing increasingly fickle consumers choosing from countless options with a finite amount of time to give—how does a brand become sticky?

Continue reading