DC Advisors Don’t Feel Support in Wake of DOL Fiduciary Ruling

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The Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary ruling, despite not being fully enacted, as well as the recent calls for repeal and uncertainty regarding timing, has already altered the financial services industry substantially. Heightened fee scrutiny throughout the retirement industry is causing many DC plan providers to be on the defensive, focusing on ways to avoid the next potential pitfall. And although providers may be trying, half of DC advisors report they are not getting enough support from providers with regard to the new rules and regulations. This perceived lack of support in a time of great change will undoubtedly affect advisor perceptions of and loyalty to the providers they work with regardless of the future of the ruling. Continue reading

How Georgia Power Uses Research to Optimize Customer Experience

How Georgia Power Company Uses Research to Optimize Customer ExperienceI recently sat down Don Hodson, head of customer experience (CX) at Georgia Power (GPC), to discuss how GPC is maximizing the effectiveness of its CX program. For energy brands that are working hard to create a positive, seamless experience for its customers, Don’s insight might just spark an idea that can be applied to your company’s strategy. Enjoy!

Can you explain GPC’s customer experience goals and the specific issues you’re trying to solve with research insight?

Don Hodson, head of customer experience at Georgia PowerDon: Georgia Power has a strong reputation with our customers already so there is little value focusing on improving a customer sat score from 8.5 to 8.6. Rather, we look at all the interactions customers have with GPC—the channels they use, the issues they have—to identify where there are barriers to resolution or where we force them to make extra effort. Then we focus on how to mitigate those issues to reduce customer effort. Not only does this improve customer sat but, in many cases, it also identifies opportunities to decrease operational costs.

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Ranks of Fee-Based Advisors Expected to Swell

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Despite the uncertain fate of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, we already see advisors changing their business practices. According to Cogent’s The Future of the Financial Advisor™ report, advisors earning at least three-quarters of their total compensation from asset-based fees could comprise half (49%) of all financial advisors by the end of 2017, up from 38% presently. This shift toward fee-based compensation is primarily being driven by advisors in the National, Regional and Independent channels. Continue reading

Are Solar Roads Coming to Your Utility Territory?

solar-roadSolar roadways have captured the public’s imagination – see, for example, the viral “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways” video produced by Solar Roadways and viewed more than 22 million times. And we certainly do use a lot of land for roads and parking lots – 61,000 square miles by some estimates. So why not use this space to also produce power?

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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.” Continue reading

Seeking Right-Brained Chief Customer Officers

Seeking Right-Brained Chief Customer Officers

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once attributed his uncanny ability to read plays to, “I skate to where the puck is going to be.” That concept applies to utility chief customer officers and CX professionals; those who are tuned into consumer expectation trends understand where their “puck” is going to be.

Cogent Reports’ Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement (UTBCE) study is designed to understand customer engagement from a holistic perspective encompassing brand trust, product experience and operational satisfaction, but this blog post offers a simpler framework for customer experience. First up is marketing, which allows you to tell your customers what they can expect of you as a utility. Second, and just as important, is the actual experience customers have interacting with you—and where they judge whether your marketing was truthful or just blowing smoke.

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Few Distributors Weather Decline in Investor Loyalty

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As a consequence of waning trust in the financial services industry, affluent investors appear to be retrenching, consolidating their investment accounts and concentrating more of their assets with a single distributor firm. While this is positive for primary distributors, it’s imperative that they increase customer loyalty of affluent investors to retain these new assets.

According to Investor Brandscape, investors report an average of 2.03 distributor relationships this year, down from 2.31 in 2015. Concurrently, the average percentage of assets that investors direct to their primary distributor, the firm with which an investor holds the largest proportion of his or her portfolio, has significantly increased to 81% from 70% in 2015.

Interestingly, the trend toward asset consolidation is driven by Millennials, Gen Xers and 2nd Wave Boomers, as these investors report holding a larger proportion of their portfolios with their primary distributor this year. Yet there is an inverse relationship between number of distributor relationships and age. Boomer and Silent Generation investors generally have fewer distributor relationships compared with Millennial and Gen X investors. Continue reading

Affluent Ready-to-Act Investors Are Prime Media Targets

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Only a minority of affluent investors are likely to make an additional investment in the near future, so it is imperative for asset managers and their agencies to equip themselves with the insights required to optimally target this critical audience. Based on purchase intent, we’ve identified three segments of “ready-to-act” (RTA) investors who are likely to open an investment account or invest in a mutual fund or ETF in the next three months.

The good news is that these RTA investors are prime media targets, according to data from our Media Consumption™ Investor portal. These RTA investors are more likely to use a variety of media outlets for business and financial news versus affluent investors overall.

Websites

RTA investors visit more websites each month than their non-ready-to-act counterparts. Those looking to invest in an ETF visit the CNN, CNN Money and Fox News websites, making those great options for advertisers targeting this segment. Outreach to investors looking to open an investment account should include the CNN, Bloomberg, Fox News and MSNBC sites, while asset managers seeking new mutual fund investors should target CNN, Yahoo! Finance and Fox News. Continue reading

Finding Ways to Maximize Engagement for Institutional Investment Products

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Getting through to an intended audience is the constant goal of marketers. There is little value in carefully curating messages and developing a plan for execution and release of those messages if they never capture the attention of a firm’s targets. The most return from marketing activities is created when the right message meets the right person at the right time. This is true across all industries, including the institutional space.

As a follow-on to our successful 2013 and 2016 advisor marketing collateral studies, Cutting Through the Institutional Marketing Clutter™ will expand insights regarding best-in-class approaches for maximizing the reach and impact of institutional investor-oriented marketing efforts. In a series of focus groups and in-depth one-on-one interviews with institutional investors and consultants, we will examine the full spectrum of marketing material, from email and white papers to provider websites and webinars.

What Will We Ask?

To better understand the marketing that is most effective with institutional investors and consultants, we need to understand the type and frequency of messages they are receiving, the aspects of the messages that are capturing their attention and the firms that are producing best-in-class communication. The report will provide insights into the marketing consumption habits of institutional investors and investment consultants, including their communication preferences, perceptions of content and digital marketing experiences. Continue reading

Five Ways to Become a Three-Time Utility Customer Champion

2016-12-three-peatWe recently released our 2016 Utility Customer Champions, which awards gas, electric and combination utilities nationwide that have the highest scores on our proprietary Engaged Customer Relationship index. Among this list are 26 utilities that have “three-peated,” meaning they’ve been designated as a Customer Champion every year since we started these awards in 2014.

Here’s what sets these utilities apart, and what your utility can do to get on the path of enduring customer engagement:

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