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

Three Things Utilities Can Do to Delight Their Customers

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Three Things Utilities Can Do to Delight Their CustomersThis article is not about building the fundamentals for strong customer engagement: operational excellence, a strong brand and value-added product offerings. Instead, it’s about the moments that catch customers off guard—in a good way—and how utilities can intentionally create those moments in their customer interactions. These moments help support a solid customer experience strategy, and more importantly, help create advocates, as customers share with friends and family, “you won’t believe what my utility company did!”

1. Invite new customers into a relationship

My colleague Chris Oberle, senior vice president of the Energy Research and Consulting group at Market Strategies International, has written about the missed opportunity for customer onboarding. Two years later, only 8% of customers new to their utility recall receiving any sort of welcome or onboarding material. Continue reading

Mobile Apps Boost Advisor Consideration

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Whether due to the increasing reliance on technology, the desire to reduce marketing costs, better segmentation or a combination of all of these, it’s clear that asset managers are streamlining their advisor marketing efforts. Continuing a trend we observed last year, the number of advisor marketing touches across all financial services providers has declined. In a recent study of over 1,200 financial advisors, advisors indicate that they receive an average of 95.7 marketing touches from financial providers each month, down from 100.9 in 2017 and 110.1 in 2016.

This decrease in touches is an overall trend rather than the scaling back of one specific medium. With the exception of social media outreach and road show invites, advisors report a continued decrease in the number of touches from email, webinars, internal and external wholesalers and print mailings. Given these facts, with fewer opportunities to reach advisors, it’s imperative for providers to maximize the impact of each touch. Continue reading

Nike Takes a Knee

Is Nike’s advertising deal with Colin Kaepernick a genius move or a PR disaster? 

Nike recently marked the 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It” campaign by launching new ads featuring NFL player Colin Kaepernick, a move that instantly raised controversy online. Numerous notable sportspeople, such as LeBron James and Serena Williams, joined hundreds of thousands in supporting the advertising and Kaepernick’s broader cause. However, those opposed to Kaepernick and the practice of kneeling during the national anthem at football games reacted strongly as well, with many calling for a boycott of Nike, and some even taking to destroying their Nike gear.

While there is certainly much to debate regarding Kaepernick and his cause, and probably less so regarding the questionable logic of destroying merchandise that Nike has already collected revenue on, this article is not about that. As somebody who oversees millions of dollars of brand market research every year, my curiosity was piqued: Would this prove to be a genius move or PR disaster for the brand strategists at Nike? And so to answer this burning question, the consumer & retail research division of Market Strategies International went into field to survey public opinion.

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Measuring Sponsorship Value in a Changing Digital Landscape

It’s been three-plus years since I wrote an article on measuring the value of sponsorships, and to this day I still get regular emails and calls about it. Years ago I worked for a large, global CPG company that plowed tens of millions of dollars into high-profile sports sponsorships. While there, I developed a unique interest in the often-ignored measurement of ROI from these sponsorships. Whether it’s due to a lack of research funding because all available dollars were funneled into the campaign, or to potentially protect a pet project of an executive, the area of sponsorships is still often overlooked when organizations measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

The waters of sports sponsorship value are getting even muddier thanks to the changing digital landscape and the ways consumers are choosing, or not choosing, to view media. In 2018, one of the questions our clients most often ask is, “What is the future of sports sponsorships and where should we be spending our money over the next five to ten years?” Telecom providers, some of the largest sports sponsors, are particularly aware that the world is shifting from traditional television to web- and app-based media offerings. What does this shift mean as they look to position their brands in front of fans?

To get a better understanding of the value of sports sponsorship, the telecom research division of Market Strategies conducted an omnibus study of 2,000 consumers in the US. The study explored awareness of digital and stadium sports sponsorships and the impact they have on brand. Continue reading

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