The Rise of Model Portfolios—A Blessing or a Curse for Asset Managers?

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The vast majority of advisors rely on model portfolios to meet the needs of their investment clients, further distancing the underlying asset managers from the financial professionals using their products. Many firms are struggling to adapt to changing distribution models that include serving advisors directly as well as through model portfolios provided by the home office or third-party providers.

Nearly half of advisors (47%) say they use models they build themselves. That said, many of these same advisors are starting from templates developed by leading asset managers. Three in ten (29%) use models provided by the home office, while 18% use models offered by third-party providers.

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The Reason Many DC Participant Communication Programs Fail

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In their effort to develop effective participant communication strategies, plan providers need to serve multiple audiences. Participant education needs can vary by generation, investment knowledge, wealth or income level, marital status and even gender. Yet one facet many participant communication professionals don’t consider is intentwhether the individual participant is planning to make a change to his or her retirement plan account. Depending on their level of intent, participants will either require more specific information to inform their upcoming decision, or content that validates their current retirement saving strategies or motivates necessary changes.

Who Are “Ready-to-act” Participants?

Ready-to-act (RTA) Participants are those who are planning to make a change to their current employer-sponsored retirement plan in the near future. And they are few and far between. Our most recent DC Participant Planscape™ survey found that only one in six participants intends to make a change to his or her plan investments and even fewer (13%) are likely to increase their contribution amount in the near future. RTA Participants are more likely to be male, younger (Millennial or Gen X) and use advice to manage their investment portfolios. In fact, half of RTA Participants planning to make an investment change are working with a financial advisor. Conversely, Not Ready-to-act Participants, those who do not anticipate making changes to their retirement plan accounts, are much more likely to be self-directed, managing their investments without any professional assistance. Continue reading

Technology Changed the Purchase Journey, Now Research Has to Change Too

How Brands Can Benefit from Path-To-Purchase ResearchDo you know where your customers are coming from, how they decide which providers they choose and why? Technology has drastically changed the purchase journey for most businesses on multiple levels. Most purchase journey research is still treating the path as linear even though it is becoming increasingly dynamic and web-like, with unlimited interactions. While the linear-path to purchase journey research allows you to gain a general understanding of what your customers’ purchase path looks like, it doesn’t give you the details to craft a high-functioning customer acquisition and retention plan.

The reality is that capturing “how and when” people buy is pretty easy. But the journey is complex, so the tough part is distilling the data into useful information so you know exactly which actions to take. Path-to-purchase research should go beyond what the journey looks like—it should reveal the most important interactions for your potential customers and your brand. Continue reading

The Power of Consistency

The Power of ConsistencyConsistency sounds boring. We’re going to have chicken and broccoli for dinner again. I ran my 30 minutes on the treadmill again. Consistency doesn’t lead you to discover the perfect town when you’ve made a wrong turn or meet the band when you’ve stayed well past the encore at a random weekday concert. But consistency can be powerful. Continue reading

If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door

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Despite new challenges in the financial services landscape, changing market dynamics offer new opportunities for those willing to adapt.

The economy is strong, with record low unemployment and robust market performance. Furthermore, the Dow topped 26,000 for the first time in January. However, rising trade tensions, divisiveness and political uncertainty are causing many investors to question when the bottom will fall out. For active managers, many of which lost share to index funds during this period of stability, the question arises, could there be a silver lining?

At first glance, the competitive environment appears inhospitable to firms lacking the scale to compete on price. Vanguard and iShares have amassed record inflows over the past year, pressuring competitors to lower their expense ratios. We’ve also seen increased M&A activity among mid-sized managers seeking global scale and broader distribution for their products as broker-dealers constrict the number of managers on their platforms. Continue reading

Amazon Is At It Again: Disrupting Healthcare and Pharma

Amazon Is at It Again: Disrupting Healthcare and PharmaAmazon already has a deep hook in the book, retail, delivery service, music, video, restaurant and even grocery space. It looks like healthcare is its next big target. Healthcare is a broad arena tangled in complexities. Most consumers struggle with understanding the lingo, getting quality care, managing payments and getting the prescriptions they need without breaking the bank. There are many controversial parts to how our healthcare system works, and Amazon has just tossed its hat into the ring with its announcement of its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack. What does this mean for the pharmacy space and will it impact the larger healthcare system?

The Amazon Threat Boils Down to Trust

Our team at Market Strategies has been anticipating the announcement of Amazon entering the healthcare market, so we conducted a self-funded a study to find out if consumers are open to purchasing healthcare services and prescriptions through nontraditional healthcare companies. We know that consumers have a high level of trust in Amazon, but will this level of trust extend to its healthcare services?
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Satisfaction With Institutional Asset Managers Has Taken a Hit

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Satisfaction with Institutional Asset Managers Has Taken A Hit | Cogent Reports

It’s no secret that 2017 closed with a period of remarkable and sustained market expansion. Capping a year that featured strong economic growth, an improving job outlook and bolstered consumer confidence, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index hit record high after record high in the fourth quarter.

Despite this historic bull market that boosted performance for many investment strategies, institutional investors’ overall satisfaction with their existing asset managers has declined sharply from the previous year. Specifically, institutional investors surveyed in the eighth annual US Institutional Investor Brandscape® study report an average top 3-box satisfaction score of just 60%, versus 67% in 2016. Continue reading

What’s a Health System? It Turns Out Most Consumers Don’t Know

Recently I attended the Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit (HMPSS) in Salt Lake City. The number of breakout sessions about CRM platforms, paid search strategies, EMR/customer integration, AI learning and cutting-edge tracking of ROI was overwhelming. Data-driven marketing decisions are now the norm. The ability to capture new patients, establish lifetime consumers and report ROI using these new digital technologies is hot and exciting.

Yet, to be successful, digital technologies require consumer-centric content. I was struck by a noticeable lack of sessions focused on consumer insights. Outside of one consumer journey and a consumer insights session, attention on what to say to consumers was absent. Consumer-centric communication demands we know our audience inside and out. What we say matters. A solid understanding of what consumers think, want, need and do remains fundamental to connecting with consumers, no matter what communication channel you use.

Words and phrases we use all the time may not be tip-of-the tongue among our key audiences. For example, how often do systems use the phrase “health system” in our communications? For many marketers at HMPSS, “health system” is part of their organization’s name. Because marketers and researchers in the healthcare industry use this phrase all the time in our work life, we think it’s a ubiquitous phrase, but I often remind those “on the inside” that they are NOT the target audience. We know too much. No offense, but if you’ve read this far, you’re probably in the minority and you’re the odd one when it comes to knowing what a “health system” is. Continue reading

Don’t Go Changing Self-directed Investors

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DIY Investors Live in a Constant State of Uncertainty and That’s OK

A client recently commented to me that self-directed investors are more challenging to serve. Representing only one-third of all affluent investors, these do-it-yourselfers neither work with traditional financial advisors nor use advice from other sources including distributors and asset managers. A look at investor sentiment during the market volatility in Q1 2018 sheds some light on key differences in the self-directed investor’s mindset compared with the traditionally advised (those currently working with a financial advisor).

Overall, affluent investors started 2018 with optimism and hope in the current investing environment. Yet concern about inflation and the impact of trade sanctions began in late January. Financial advisors, asset managers and distributors all dusted off and updated their market volatility messaging and outreach in anticipation of negative market action. Following February’s 10% correction in the S&P 500 Index and the VIX reaching a peak of 37 for only the second time in the past five years, investors ended the first quarter with far less optimism. In fact, the top-cited emotion in March was uncertainty along with a significant increase in fear. Continue reading

Four Things the SEC Can Teach Us About Messaging

In an historic town hall held this week in Atlanta, all five Commissioners from the Securities and Exchange Commission sat mere feet from the general public and spent more than the planned two hours educating through a mix of prepared content and Q&A. The same commitment to investor protection that leads to the SEC being well-known for regulation also drives its emphasis on teaching. Though our work at Market Strategies and that of our clients largely rests in the private for-profit sector, we all share the same goal of communicating so that the target audience will listen and understand. From that perspective, we can take away a number of lessons from the way the SEC’s message was delivered…

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