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!

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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

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?

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To Reach DC Plan Sponsors, Tap The Wall Street Journal

Fact-Based Trends from Cogent Reports™    

Dozens of 401(k) plan providers are striving to increase awareness of their brands among plan sponsors, who are the ultimate decision-makers when hiring and firing plan providers or even initiating putting a DC plan out to bid. Advertising is a common tactic used to boost brand recognition, yet only 27% of DC plan sponsors recall seeing an ad for at least one of the 34 leading plan providers over the past six months. Part of the reason may be that the
ads are running in the wrong place.

Plan providers courting new business often turn to trade publications and websites to tout their recordkeeping capabilities among a targeted audience. Yet when we asked plan sponsors which print publications they read over the past six months, specifically for 401(k) best practices or 401(k) service providers, nearly half (49%) cite The Wall Street Journal. In comparison, just 13% point to Employee Benefit News and only 10% report reading PLANSPONSOR magazine.

Moreover, when asked to identify the online publications they viewed over the same period, wsj.com is just behind bloomberg.com as the most frequently cited website (30% and 32%, respectively). The New York Times, both print and online editions, is another common resource among plan sponsors, far ahead of trade-related publications such
as Pensions & Investments and HR Magazine. Continue reading

Plan Sponsors Look to Make Shifts in Investment Lineups

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Plan sponsors’ desire to reduce plan costs is substantially impacting their approach to investment menu design and their relationships with DC investment managers. But the impact of the resulting activity varies by plan as well as by asset manager. Overall, 7% of plan sponsors intend to add at least one manager to their investment lineup in the next year. At the same time, 2% plan to drop a manager and 16% intend to do a combination of adding and dropping managers, suggesting that the future is not necessarily secure for all firms.

Plan Sponsors Adding and Dropping Investment Managers

When asked specifically about the managers they will continue to use, 29% of plan sponsors intend to award new business to existing firms while only 15% plan to pull business away—evidence that plan sponsors are concentrating their assets with the smaller number of managers they know. Continue reading

6 Ingredients for Effective Institutional Thought Leadership

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We know how challenging it can be to get the attention of institutional investors, but luckily for asset managers, there is one tool in the institutional marketing toolbox that offers the best opportunity of getting noticed: thought leadership. When done right, institutional investors will not only read thought leadership from managers they are already doing business with, but will also consume pieces from unknown managers, offering firms a way in—and a chance to build a favorable brand impression.

According to a series of focus groups and one-on-one interviews we conducted with institutional investors, thought leadership materials must have six ingredients to craft effective thought leadership materials for this exclusive audience:

  1. Timely
  2. Unique
  3. Sophisticated
  4. Engaging
  5. Objective
  6. Credible

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Adapting to the New Normal

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Ready or not, the DOL fiduciary rule is here and changing everything. While many product providers and distributors have been preparing for months, the financial advisors they
rely upon are now beginning to feel the effects. Many advisors are regretfully watching their choice of available products constrict as their brokers/dealers eliminate certain products, asset managers and share classes. At the same time, advisors are facing higher hurdles in the form of additional disclosure and product justification, making their job of providing investment advice increasingly challenging.

While the industry’s heightened focus on fees is creating a windfall for passive managers, advisors are boosting their reliance on managed money or model portfolio solutions, effectively distancing the direct link between asset managers and advisors selling their products. This, in turn, is impacting the role of the wholesaler, shifting expectations from that of a product spokesperson to a technical industry expert. Continue reading

DC Comics: Can Wonder Woman Save the Day?

DC Comics: Can Wonder Woman Save the Day?

All right, I’m back. Market Strategies’ resident blogger covering the superhero sector is here to share thoughts on the 2017 summer superhero movies, and the summer’s somewhat surprising breakout star: Gal Gadot, playing the titular hero in Wonder Woman. In addition to reveling in the spectacular success of Wonder Woman—a movie my kids and I thoroughly enjoyed, and for which we’re now rooting to win the summer box office outright—I will revisit some brand and character analyses that I conducted several years ago for my blog post, DC vs. Marvel: It all Comes Down to Batman. I’ll look at how Wonder Woman has impacted the relative popularity of the parent brands (DC Comics and Marvel Comics) and the marquee character brands including the long-reigning king: Batman. Again using publicly-available data—comparing search volumes via Google Trends—let’s see how the brands have shifted over time, and how Wonder Woman impacts the superhero brand space.

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New Research: Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

I never used to pay attention to anything in the healthcare industry. As someone young and healthy with no medical conditions, I rarely went to the doctor and ignored drug commercials. That all changed when I met my husband. After we had been dating for a while, he let me know that he had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (commonly referred to as UC) when he was 20 years old, and it was not well controlled. My mindset quickly shifted, and I took on the role of a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness. Suddenly everything about the pharma industry fascinated me. I quickly went to find all the information I could on the internet, but it turns out there aren’t a ton of resources available to caregivers for this non-life threatening illness. It was frustrating, to say the least. The lack of resources directed toward caregivers of people with UC seemed to delegitimize their role as caregivers, like they are not even a part of medical decisions.

Luckily for my husband and me, my new-found fascination with the world of pharmaceuticals led me to Market Strategies, where all of my healthcare market research colleagues had seemingly endless knowledge about how to find deep information on diseases and current treatments, as well as treatments in development. I did some independent research on UC and discovered there were better options for my husband than what he was currently prescribed. With my encouragement, he found a more open-minded doctor who prescribed a new medication I had suggested. This new medication was a self-injectable. My husband is brave in a lot of ways, but shots are not his favorite thing. For this new medication to work, I would have to administer the shots. I went with him for his initial loading dose at the doctor’s. My presence at the medical office was viewed as normal, it seems a lot of patients are accompanied by caregivers. The nurse showed me how to inject the medicine and gave us some material from the drug manufacturer.

However, once we got home, it was clear that the manufacturer did not consider the possibility that someone other than the patient would be reading the materials or administering the injection. They did not acknowledge the role of a caregiver at all, which made me feel a little strange as I’m a big influence when it comes to my husband’s medical care. Even after reading the patient-facing materials, I still feel a little bit nervous when I give him his shot, even a year later. That part may come as a surprise to my husband, as I get the feeling he’s pretty confident in my ability. He has to be.

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Is the Next Big Bank a Bank?

Amazon recently announced that its Amazon Lending service surpassed $1billion in small business loans over the past 12 months.

Wait, Amazon? Small business loans? Amazon isn’t a bank, but that doesn’t seem to matter. And that got me thinking, could Amazon be a bank for consumers, too?

Most likely, yes. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, especially when money is involved. Market Strategies’ financial services market research reveals that half of consumers would trust a company that does not specialize in banking to provide their banking. Of those, 26% would trust Amazon, 22% would trust Apple, 21% would trust Google and a whopping 63% would trust PayPal. Not surprisingly, younger consumers (58% of those 18-34) are even more likely to trust a non-bank to provide their banking.

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