Institutional Investors Hone in on the “S” in ESG Investing

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

As asset managers targeting the institutional market try to differentiate, many are incorporating ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors in their investment strategies to varying degrees of success. Currently, few US institutions are incorporating ESG factors in their portfolios, but use is considerably higher in the non-profit sector, where institutional investors are more apt to seek investment strategies that align with their organization’s mission.

Within the broad category of ESG investing, the individual components draw institutional investors for very different reasons. When institutional investors are asked to identify the reasons they are most likely to adopt ESG investing, the majority of pensions and non-profits point to social aspects including diversity, human rights and consumer protection.

  • Environmental aspects, including climate change, nuclear energy and sustainability, resonate more with non-profit institutions.
  • Governance, including management structure, employee relations and executive compensation, is more of a draw for pension investors.
  • The social component of ESG investing, encompassing aspects of diversity, human rights and consumer protection, is of particular interest to tax-exempt organizations and investors representing public DB and Taft-Hartley pensions.

Continue reading

What Is the Value of “Big”?

Years ago I participated in a colleague’s ongoing thought experiment by naming the price point at which something is expensive. My colleague wanted a crisp response without caveats but I couldn’t do it. My first thought was $100, but even then, that was cheap for a flight and expensive for a meal. I’ve revisited the question over the years and despite changing life circumstances, my resistance to naming a number has persisted and even increased as I’ve encountered more examples where it’s all relative. Messaging is rife with caveats, including—and perhaps especially—in the wealth management space.

Is an asset manager big when it serves thousands of clients? Manages billions of dollars? Has been in business for decades? More importantly—and this is the part that is often missed—are these numbers relevant to the customers the firm is trying to reach? Are the numbers communicated with the proper context to make them understandable?

We have ample data to show that the words we use are not always well-understood. For example, see this article from my colleague, Vivek Amin, that describes the dismal self-reported knowledge of fundamental financial terms. I’ve encountered plenty of instances where terms are not well understood by financial professionals either. This lack of understanding extends to numbers. While a number itself might not need defining in the same way, we can’t assume it always has meaning. Industry insiders know when a number is impressive because they have the context. Outside of context, a number is no better than jargon. Continue reading

How to Develop an Ongoing Dialogue with Customers That Drives ROI

Insight Communities: A Proven Solution to Customer Insight with Serious ROI

This is the era of give your customers what they want or risk losing their attention or favor. Customer research is increasingly important to provide your company with the information it needs to maintain and attract happy customers. One challenge companies often face is the cost of implementing a reliable way to engage with their customers to drive insight that also provides a return on investment (ROI). Insight Communities are a highly effective and reliable way to engage with your customers and have been proven to drive positive ROI.

Insight Communities are an online research solution that is used to consistently engage with and provide insight on the desires and needs of your customers, stakeholders and shareholders. These communities are built to help companies answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, drive advocacy for their brand. Insight Communities are organizational assets that both inform business decisions and create brand advocacy among members. Continue reading

Pinpointing Growth Opportunities in the Institutional Market

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

While an understanding of current asset allocation practices is always valuable for asset managers, uncovering the asset classes institutional investors will look to in the future provides key insight into potential areas of growth and opportunities to expand a firm’s share of institutional assets. This year’s US Institutional Investor Brandscape report includes an analysis of anticipated changes to asset allocation by asset class, uncovering the areas of most demand for future mandates.

Overall, demand for active fixed income and alternatives is on the rise among both pension and non-profit institutional investors. However, breaking down each group’s top three asset classes poised for growth in the next three years shows pockets of even greater opportunity. It’s important to note that these figures represent the percentage of institutional investors forecasting changes in their use of particular asset classes and NOT the percentage of assets they are likely to move.

Pensions

US fixed income, both actively and passively managed, will continue to be in demand among pension investors across all asset size segments in the next three years. Notably, the use of alternatives is attracting more interest among this group this year than in the past, with an expected net increase of 24%. $1 billion-plus pensions report the highest anticipated positive net change in alternatives (35%) and passively managed US fixed income (33%), indicating rich opportunity for asset managers. An increase in one asset class inevitably leads to a decrease in another—24% of pension investors intend to draw down their allocation to US equities in the next three years, a trend from previous years. Continue reading

The Value of Brand Trust to Utilities

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

In competitive markets, brand strength has long been associated with positive business outcomes, including growing revenue through increased market share, elevated pricing power and higher customer loyalty. While market share and customer loyalty haven’t historically been things utilities think about, they are taking on a new strategic importance as the tectonic plates underpinning the 21st century energy market continue to shift.

Utilities are beginning to manage their brands to support the new market challenges they face—from implementing new rate structures to figuring out how to sustain financial growth. Successfully navigating these challenges requires strong brands with enough emotional leverage to persuade consumers to come along on the journey to a new energy future.

Our Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement study, now in its sixth year, focuses on the impact of brand on customer engagement for the utility industry, making Market Strategies-Morpace the undisputed leader in brand insights for utilities. Through this research, we’ve identified three elements of brand value for utilities:

  1. Enhanced pricing power via customer support for higher rates.
  2. Revenue growth by capturing market share for new product offerings not protected by the utility’s monopoly position.
  3. Lower risk of customer and load defection as customers consider distributed energy resources and dis-intermediators.

Continue reading

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

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

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.

Continue reading

Advisors’ Top Reason for Selling Annuities

Insights Powered by Cogent Reports™    

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

Dear Energy Santa: Three Wishes for Energy Utilities

Dear Energy Santa Three Wishes for Energy UtilitiesWith digital transformation occurring at breakneck pace, it is time to shift gears. Our wish list revolves around reinvigorating your brand and your approach to customer experience so that more people can “believe” in you again.

You may be asking; why wouldn’t we just add some shiny new toys to engage customers? Isn’t that what we asked for last year? While shiny new toys have their place in this strategy, we are inundated with new gadgets and technologies and the immediate data and information they offer, though the ongoing relationship and experiences we have with you are not changing as much to keep up with the trend. We know you are making strides to introduce new interaction and communication technologies to improve our relationship, though our experience appears to be stuck in neutral.

We communicate with each other only a handful of times each year and you do not always provide us with what we desire. Since we have a strong desire to freshen and update our relationship with you—and, in turn, improve the relationship our customers have with the energy industry—it is time you start considering a new approach. Continue reading

The Financial and Emotional Upside of Marketing to Caregivers

The Financial and Emotional Upside of Marketing to CaregiversHealthcare marketers may be talking to the people who use their products—but are they talking to the people who buy their products? It’s an important distinction, and in many cases, these two stakeholders may not be the same.

In a recent self-funded study, the healthcare research team at Market Strategies International-Morpace honed in on how caregivers interact with healthcare services and products in relation to the loved one they care for. The results are striking in their implications for healthcare marketers. Nearly one-third (29%) of the adult population is responsible for caring for another adult with a debilitating medical condition. Of this group, 52% buy over the counter (OTC) medications for their loved one and in many cases without their loved one’s input—which begs the question, why aren’t more healthcare marketers actively trying to connect with caregivers?

Role in Deciding Which OTC Medication to Buy Continue reading