If you're in a c-suite role in an asset management firm, you've got a few core responsibilities. These generally include hiring or managing people to:

  • run the money
  • market and sell the funds
  • make sure no-one does anything silly
  • make all the 'things' work
  • hire/manage people

In addition to those responsibilities, you've usually got a few things to worry about. This could be:

  • regulation
  • the post-Brexit landscape
  • COVID-19 (as it turns out)
  • the active/passive debate
  • ESG

And on top of all that, people keep telling you to be digital first, or to just be more digital. There are, as always, potential shortcuts to being more digital:

  • Hire a head of digital marketing (extra points for hipster attributes) and let them sort it all out.
  • Buy all the digital things and let the team know they've got everything they need.
  • Do a lot of vigorous nodding, do nothing and hope it passes.
  • Nod sagely and say 'I remember when [name your failed tech] was going to change the world and look what happened to that'.

While those shortcuts might make it look like you're making a concerted effort in digital, they aren't very reliable. Fortunately for all, help is at hand and having read this far you certainly deserve to know my recommendations for how to do digital:

  1. Meet with your board and uncover your firm's history, story, reason for being and purpose.
  2. Meet with your legal and compliance teams, then meet with your executive committee and decide your appetite for risk.
  3. Don't be persuaded that you could do a lot of digital things if compliance would let you. The FCA wants governance, transparency and fairness. As far as I know they don't penalise you telling your firm's story and purpose, educating investors, sharing your team experience and explaining how you step up for causes.
  4. Align your sales, marketing and PR teams around a common funnel and agree upon who owns what.
  5. Invest in information architecture, user experience and great design. When faced with a proposed project eg building a new website. Ignore the technology costs. Focus on how you're going to structure information, access data, publish content and build amazing experiences for prospects, clients and staff.
  6. Write things that people want to read. Hire publishers and then behave like a publisher.
  7. Follow the advice Steve Jobs apparently gave - "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
  8. Build user stories for what you want to do. They look like this; as a salesperson I want to send a specific message to this segment and see what actions they take, so I know when to contact.
  9. Start small. Don't wait until you have everything built and planned. Start with a segment, a stakeholder that buys in and prove what does or doesn't work.
  10. Measure 'stuff'. Don't start campaigns without agreeing how you will measure success (unfortunately in digital, awareness doesn't really count unless you're building your brand). You wouldn't hire a roomful of salespeople and just hope they contribute.
  11. Finally, buy the technology you need. Buy what you need now and don't worry if you have to upgrade or replace in a few years' time. It's not that hard.

Oh, and if it turns out that you need some help with all this? We can help.