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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Who Are the Best Marketers in Asset Management?

Reported by Katy Golvala, Associate Reporter/Researcher

Surprise, surprise: asset managers with deep pockets are the most effective marketers.

Dave Swanson
SwanDog
Founder and Managing Partner
However, Dave Swanson, founder and managing partner at SwanDog, says he didn't understand just how deep those pockets go.

"Bigger firms can simply do things more efficiently than other firms can do. And efficiency in this business is really important," Swanson tells MFWire.

In The Purple Report, the most recent annual survey released by SwanDog, Swanson and his team talked to asset managers with $20 billion or more in retail assets about their marketing practices. Swanson says that his respondents represent 40 percent of firms in the industry above the $20 billion threshold.

Among the most admired marketers in the business: fundsters unanimously recognize BlackRock as a category killer and a digital powerhouse; J.P. Morgan for its market insights; Franklin Templeton for its digital and tech capabilities; American Funds as a gold standard for content; Dodge and Cox as client-focused; WisdomTree for its advertising; and Royce for its online presence.

James Lesser, a principal at SwanDog, confirms that the importance of scale seems more pronounced than ever. This year, Lesser also sees more marketing managers working across products and channels, with some even dabbling in data and digital, even though it's not their area of expertise. He's also noticed a cultural shift as digital and data experts with no previous asset management experience come into marketing leadership roles.

Additional findings show that 60 percent of marketing teams say they operate primarily as sales support, 30 percent say they're becoming more strategic, and 10 percent define themselves as actively strategic.

For the firms that haven't been actively focusing on their marketing strategy, that's going to need to change sooner rather than later. Up until recently, Swanson explains, asset managers haven't actively marketed against each other. With continual reductions in fees and commissions, Swanson says it's the first time in a long time that firms are trying to box out their competitors.

"As things are getting tougher, the better firms are sharpening their elbows," says Swanson.

When it comes down to it, the number one factor to successful marketing is having the money and resources. Swanson says that small firms can compete on focus and flexibility.

"If you're small, you have to be really good at something and put enough energy and resources [towards that]," says Swanson. 

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