Market Strategies International


Cogent Reports: Brand Trust Paramount to Winning Institutional Business

New research provides important insight into the factors institutional investors find crucial when selecting asset managers, and it is about more than just performance. In fact, the reputation of the firm’s investment team and organizational stability, key pillars of brand trust, often outweigh investment performance as key selection criteria in the asset manager selection process. These and other findings are included in the annual US Institutional Investor Brandscape®, a Cogent Reports™ study by Market Strategies International.

The study reveals that the key components of brand trust include organizational stability, the experience of the investment team, a distinct and steadfast investment philosophy, and exemplary client service and support. While a solid track record is a table-stakes expectation, a foundation of trust in a brand can help a firm retain important client relationships even when performance benchmarks are missed.

“Put simply, investment performance can and will get a firm noticed, but it’s trust in the company and the brand that reinforces the relationship. The recipe for building brand trust lies in steadiness and consistency in all things that touch the client,” said Linda York, senior vice president and author of the report at Market Strategies.

The study also reveals that the approach to building and maintaining brand trust is not the same for every asset manager.

“It’s important for each firm to keep a pulse on the perception of its brand in the market and adjust its marketing, positioning, and service strategies accordingly,” continued York. “Even in times of underperformance or leadership turnover, asset managers can successfully weather the storm by staying true to their strengths such as investment philosophy or the investment team. Institutional investors appreciate these commitments and will reward brands they trust with additional assets.”

Very few asset managers stand out for any of these three aspects of trust. However, Vanguard is the one firm that has fostered brand trust for many years and is currently reaping the rewards.

“Vanguard is a firm that’s had one consistent message for decades,” said Chris Barnes, managing director of financial services at Market Strategies. “It has made low fees a part of its brand identify but has not sacrificed the quality or level of service its relationship managers and service teams deliver to the end clients. Institutions know what they’re getting with Vanguard, and they keep coming back as a result.”

 Top 5 Most Trusted Institutional Asset Managers

 Pensions $250M+  Non-Profits $250M+
 1. Vanguard  1. Vanguard
 2. BlackRock  2. Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA)
 3. Charles Schwab Investment Management  3. BlackRock
 4. T. Rowe Price  4. Commonfund
 5. Dodge & Cox  5. GMO
  Source: Market Strategies International. Cogent Reports™. US Institutional Investor Brandscape: January 2017.

About US Institutional Investor Brandscape

Cogent Reports conducted an online survey of a representative cross section of 374 investors managing $20 million or more in institutional investable assets from October 21, 2016 to January 3, 2017. Survey participants were required to play a direct role in the evaluation and selection of investments or asset managers within their organization. In determining the sampling frame for this study, Cogent Reports relied upon the Standard & Poor’s Money Market Directories (MMD) of institutional investors. To ensure the population for this research was representative of the universe of institutional investors, strict quotas were established based on a nested classification of institutional investor category and size of assets. Minimal weighting was applied to adjust for purposeful deviations from the actual marketplace distribution. The data have a margin of error of ±4.87% at the 95% confidence level. Market Strategies will supply the exact wording of any survey questions upon request.

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