The Power of Brand Identity Research

The Power of Brand Identity ResearchEvery impression counts when promoting and maintaining a successful business, and managing your brand identity is a major factor in that success. Whether it’s your logo, your website or your business cards, your customers build an impression of your company through every interaction they have with it. Each touchpoint adds up to create your brand image. But in today’s dynamic digital market, customers have more ways than ever to engage with brands.

New and evolving technologies demand that businesses account for the myriad of platforms that can promote as well as demote their brand. Brand research across a diverse range of markets has shown that your customers’ opinions, needs and expectations can turn on a dime, particularly in the court of social media. As a result, the challenge for businesses is to navigate these platforms to ensure they don’t get lost in the crowd, or worse, stand out for all of the wrong reasons.

What Is Brand Identity and Brand Image?

Brand identity is the way a business defines itself to their target audience. Every element that helps define your brand, from name and logo to color scheme and even the language you use to communicate with your audience come together to create your overall brand identity.

On the other hand, your brand image is the perception that customers have of your brand. It is the aggregate of every experience, interaction and association that people have with your organization. Continue reading

Going Beyond Consideration

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Understanding the Institutional Investor Journey When Selecting an Asset Manager

Institutional investors yield considerable decision-making power and often involve an extensive list of resources in their process of vetting and hiring a new asset manager. The firms vying for attention need to effectively differentiate yet not over-complicate their unique value propositions. Given the intensity of competition in the institutional market, asset managers need to make the most of every potential mandate to position themselves to win new assets. While many struggle with the challenges of building brand awareness to even get a chance to be considered, the most successful firms arm their sales, relationship management and product teams with insight on the decision-making process in order to maximize their opportunities of being selected.

Common triggers prompting asset manager searches include multiple periods of underperformance, investment team turnover, style drift, and corporate merger/acquisition activity. That said, new-manager hires are not always the result of the need to replace an incumbent, as institutional investors and consultants are open to opportunistic searches for new strategies that could enhance the overall portfolio. While performance and price along with familiarity and strength of the brand are integral in the evaluation of asset managers, a variety of more subjective factors weigh heavily in the final selection decision.

In the process of hiring an asset manager, all institutional investors follow a similar journey, with each type bringing its own nuances to the overall process. Along the journey, asset managers can leverage a number of points of influence to maximize their potential for selection. The people and additional sources of information also involved in the journey vary by type of institution, offering opportunities for asset managers to target their ongoing outreach to specific audiences. For example, consultant recommendations are by far the most influential factor for defined benefit (DB) pensions, yet peer recommendations, either formal or word-of-mouth, can be a gateway for endowments.

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Advisors’ Top Reason for Selling Annuities

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Amid Rising Sales, Advisors Cite Guaranteed Retirement Income as Top Reason for Selling Annuity Products

Annuity sales are rebounding and advisors expect to maintain, or even increase, their use of annuity products in the near future. At the same time, the composition of advisors is changing, as many advisors shift further toward fee-based compensation models. Annuity providers have an opportunity to support advisors using a variety of compensation models through this transition while highlighting the important benefits annuity products can bring to advisors and their clients.

When asked how important a list of factors was as reasons for selling annuities to clients, advisors cite the ability to generate guaranteed income in retirement as the top factor. In fact, over three-quarters (76%) of advisors, regardless of compensation type, cite this factor as very important. Diving into different types of annuities reveals that retirement income products and guaranteed rates are also among the leading consideration drivers for variable and fixed annuities, respectively.  Continue reading

Is There a Future for Financial Wellness Programs?

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Financial wellness programs were greeted with great hopes when they first debuted. But is the prognosis for their long-term success starting to flag? Amid signs that such programs have not been as impactful as expected, our latest white paper takes a 360-degree look at three sets of stakeholders—plan sponsors, plan participants and retirement plan advisors—to construct a clearer picture of the state of financial wellness initiatives. Here’s a sneak peek!

The Employer View: Enthusiastic Adopters

Preparing employees for retirement is a high priority for plan sponsors. Indeed, 40% rank it as one of their top three priorities for the year. It’s no wonder then that employers embrace financial wellness programs with enthusiasm. Adoption rates among plan sponsors jumped from 16% in 2017 to 21% in 2018. And interest in offering a financial wellness program is strong, with over one-third of plan sponsors likely to consider implementing a program in the future. Continue reading

Affluent Investors: Big Emotions and Purchase Intent

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Ready-to-act Investors Reacted to Positive Market Environment in Q3 2018

No one appreciates being told that they “are overreacting,” especially in the midst of expressing a big emotion. On the contrary, having one’s feelings heard and validated serves as a powerful response and creates opportunity for further engagement, a valuable lesson for distributors and product providers to keep in mind.

Q3 began amid ongoing trade disputes between the US and its trading partners and news of the economy having grown 4.2% during the previous quarter, fueled by a strong labor market. Economic growth helped spark investor optimism, along with hope and confidence in the investing environment. By some accounts, the current US equity bull market earned the longest tenure in history this past summer, boosting consumer confidence to an 18-year high. The third quarter finished with the large-cap S&P 500 index turning in its best quarterly performance in nearly five years. Despite a 0.25% increase in interest rates in September, affluent investor sentiment remained consistent from June through the end of the quarter. Continue reading

Financial Planning Games: Financial Advisors Compete Head-to-head with Planning Websites

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My firm’s CEO, Melissa Sauter, lives by the motto, “fail to plan, plan to fail,” and encourages her employees to do so as well. Based on life’s often harsh lessons around preparation, “fail to plan, plan to fail” seems to resonate with most people, including affluent investors, as more than half (58%) report having a financial plan and another one in five (19%) is currently working on one.

However, 17% of investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets admit to not having started to make a financial plan, including about one in five investors ages 54 to 62, arguably beyond the ideal time to already have a financial plan in place.

Financial planning is the act of creating a plan where you establish a set of goals in your life and figure out how much money it will take to achieve them. This involves saving money, investing, and getting insurance to protect you and your loved ones. It also includes having legal documents created in the event of an emergency so that your family is prepared.

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Common Traps of Top-performing Customer Experience Programs

Common Traps of Top Performing Customer Experience Programs

You’ve achieved your customer experience (CX) goals! Congratulations! … Now what?

When our clients’ organizations commit to their CX measurement goals (CSAT, NPS), internalize the key drivers of performance improvement and integrate them with operational priorities, they often succeed in hitting their CX outcome measure goals.

While this is always good news, it can create new challenges—“happy problems,” as we’re told to see them. Here are some common CX program traps to avoid after you hit your CX goals: Continue reading

Investing Is Not a “One Emotion” Sport

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Pre-retirees Express Uncertainty and Hope in Q2 2018

Most parents can attest that raising children is not a “one emotion” sport. The anticipation and joy of witnessing a child reach a milestone like starting kindergarten is often combined with feelings of sadness over the completion the toddler years. The same phenomenon occurs with investing. More often than not, investors report a mix of sometimes conflicting emotions

Global consternation over trade between the US and China coupled with tensions between the US and Russia caused a bumpy start to the second quarter of 2018, instilling feelings of uncertainty and anxiety among affluent investors. Sentiment shifted more toward hope and optimism in May with positive news about the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years and strong Q1 earnings. However, news of the Federal Reserve raising rates and the pace of US GDP growth being the slowest since 2013 overshadowed a more than 3% gain from the S&P 500 for the quarter, to which investors reacted with a mix of uncertainty and hope.

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Building Effective Apps and Websites for Advisors

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Digital tools like apps and websites are increasingly important for asset managers to incorporate and enhance within their overall advisor marketing and engagement efforts. In fact, recent quantitative data gathered by Cogent Reports have found that mobile apps generate a 47% lift in advisor consideration, with websites trailing closely at 46%. While our quant data looked at the impact of mobile apps and websites, we used qualitative techniques to uncover what providers can do to ensure their mobile apps and websites are engaging advisors and providing a consideration boost.

Digital technology is interwoven across all types of advisory tasks from client relationship management, communication, investment research and news consumption to portfolio construction, risk management and asset allocation. Advisors are seeking new technologies to streamline processes and make the dissemination of information easier. So what do advisors want when they’re using these digital tools?

Mobile Apps

While investment news and financial apps are surging in popularity among advisors and are primarily valued for news notifications, asset manager apps are gaining traction for different purposes. Advisors consider these apps valuable for staying on top of product information and accessing client information on the fly. Continue reading

DC Plan Advisors Are Leveling Up

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The defined contribution (DC) plan market is increasingly dynamic with a variety of industry forces and innovations at play, and so, too, is the makeup of the DC advisor population. Findings from our newly released Retirement Plan Advisor Trends™ report reveal important changes in the profile of financial advisors who are active in the DC space, affecting the business relationships these advisors have with plan providers and investment managers.

On the surface, the DC advisor population looks stable, with two-thirds of financial advisors (65%) continuing to oversee DC plan assets. However, DC “dabblers” appear to be backing away from the complexities of servicing the DC market. Today more than nine in ten (93%) Emerging DC advisors—those managing less than $10M in DC assets—report less than one-quarter of their total AUM is comprised of DC business: a significantly greater proportion than in 2016 (88%) and 2017 (86%). Continue reading