The investment management industry is facing significant change on a number of fronts. Similarly, investment management marketers must adapt to ensure their brands can remain competitive. Our team looks at the nine biggest trends that will shape asset and wealth managers’ marketing over the coming year.   

Coping with demand for digital 

Many firms have set up dedicated centres of excellence (CoE) featuring specialist skillsets, to deal with the particular demands of digital channels. The growing need for digital has seen these CoEs servicing a never-ending queue for day-to-day marketing activity. Meanwhile, there are only occasional opportunities for channel teams to add more digital experience to their skillset and service their own digital requirements.

Asset managers are alert to the limitations of this hub and spoke model, particularly as the pandemic has accelerated the demands on CoE digital teams. As a result, we are seeing firms now re-examining their operating models when it comes to digital. They’re considering how to balance out the weighting of digital skills across the hub and spoke teams. Some are exploring whether the hub and spoke/CoE model should be dismissed in favour of cross-functional teams dedicated to a particular region, channel or goal (e.g. acquisition). 

Agile working  

To discuss agile, it’s worth remembering what the agile manifesto is – take a moment:  

Individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, responding to change. Quite sweeping topics in the context presented and not always things that are easily implemented in large, regulated, financial services firms.  

But we’ve seen firms embracing agile methodology, using it as a tool to bring technology and business teams closer together, to ship minimum viable products (MVPs), to move towards continuous sprint deliverables rather than large waterfall projects. But it is hard and it’s not a panacea; agreeing budgets can be hard, matching agile with corporate processes can be hard and implementing a single element doesn’t tick the agile box. 

We’ll see (and help) firms to challenge themselves to deliver the right change, in the right way to the right people. Adopting a mindset that motivates test and learn, starting small and iterating, collaborative working practices, transparency and inclusiveness around delivery.  

Taking months and years to roll out a corporate project (marketing automation being a good example) just won’t cut it in our investment world in 2022 and beyond. 

Innovation to engage   

As firms complete their digital foundations and move to using them in earnest, we’re seeing some innovations appear in the market. 

These seem to be mostly focused in the intermediary channel, with a focus on education and analysis. 

We’ve seen some firms step up their client servicing offerings in the form of portfolio analysis tools and rich client portal experiences. 

There are also some interactive gamification around impact investing and ESG education. 

In a market of consolidation and the continuous need to justify active management during a rise in passive investing, many groups are focusing their innovation efforts on client experience and the value-add they can offer. 

Personalisation shaping client experience 

Client experience focus has grown exponentially in the past few years and doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Many businesses are now using a focus on client experience as a key differentiator between them and their competitors.  

Client experience trends we may see for 2022 are; data and more focused data visualisation for customer experiences. This is not technically new, but it’s becoming increasingly important. With built-in intelligence into everyday devices such as phones, watches, TVs, services and cars – to name a few – there have never been more sources for consumer data. Insight derived from this data will empower marketers to create more personalised experiences.  

We may see more personalisation at scale. Newer technology can help to solve the challenge of being able to reach the right customer at the right time, with the right communication for their particular stage in the buying journey. It can provide personalised communication or an offer that will help solve the potential client’s problem.  

Escalation functionality and resolution ability are key elements for good client experience. Clients increasingly expect faster responses for their customer service needs. Asset managers are responding by looking at new ways of facilitating these interactions, such as dedicated customer service channels on social platforms. 

Segmentation for more relevance 

As firms consider the data they have, the marketing automation technology they’ve implemented and their priorities for 2022, they’re increasingly focused on how segmentation will power relevance among their target audiences. 

They’re conscious that it’s not just about the tech you have, but how you use it. After all, what good is powerful marketing automation technology if you still use it to send the same blanket message to everyone? 

Firms are taking the time to understand what really matters to their target audiences and which of those needs they’re best placed to service. This is the seed of all relevant, targeted communications that wins and keeps assets. 

Those that really understand the market – who they want to talk to and who they don’t – will win. Those managers are only spending their energy and marketing budget where it’s really going to matter. 

Getting to grips with data 

Quite rightly we have a fixation with data; gathering it, storing it, analysing it, hiring scientists and finally finding a use for it all – that enables better decisions to be made. 

Getting your data house in order is crucial, because it underpins all the other marketing initiatives you want to implement. But with the interest in data comes the new terminology and the need for a clear architecture with a clear purpose. 

For now, it’s worth understanding that a data lake contains all your raw data in its native format (so large volumes of data that you may or may not always use). A data warehouse contains structured sets of data that can be combined and shared, and a customer data platform (CDP) provides unification of data around a customer.  

Clearly size matters in this world. A UK or US boutique investment firm is very unlikely to need a lake, warehouse or even CDP – they would be better served ensuring their CRM is well integrated to unify email, web, social and event/meeting data. 

2022 will continue the demand for CMOs to be technology literate, collaborative with technology teams and to be focused on the actual purpose and value of data and technology. 

A focus on relevant and differentiated content  

Asset managers have long recognised the importance of content, but the focus is shifting to quality and relevance. Over the last few years, the sheer quantity of content in the market – in a world with increasingly virtual client interaction – became very apparent. During the early stages of the pandemic, it was also clear that users’ engagement levels deteriorated as they became overwhelmed with content.  

Now groups seem more intent on ensuring their content has cut-through and fulfils its objective. Rather than trying to compete in all areas, brands want to focus on that which differentiates them, as well as that which speaks to clients’ needs and concerns.  

Creating effective content is as much about how well each piece of content is written, as well as its efficacy within the bigger client journey. Content and digital have to work really closely together to ensure the audience is understood, they get what they need from content, while you nurture them along a journey. Underscoring all of this is the importance of a clear proposition for your brand and products. 

More groups are also developing a more defined view of thought leadership and its role in the marketing mix. There is increased focus on ensuring thought pieces can be used broadly, across various regions.  

Social engagement continues to grow 

Growth and engagement of social has continued its rapid acceleration throughout 2021, with lockdowns playing a big role in new adoption. This trend is set to continue in 2022, making it more important than ever to optimise your social engagement and presence.  

Public pressure for platforms to provide value in connection and content engagement has led major social platforms to look at adjusting their algorithms. Marketers in turn should see new features that help to enhance customer experience.  

Other trends to look for are the continued rise in short-form social media: TikTok exploded in 2021 (and is expected to continue in 2022). This leads to competition for introducing features for short-form video and live-streaming capability.  

Influencers have been a great way to raise awareness and adoption of products or services. They are creating new and innovative ways to connect with their audiences and may play a bigger, more strategic role in social for 2022.  

Lastly, the augmented reality (AR) buzz is growing in the wake of the Metaverse hype. Major brand such as Adidas have invested heavily in the Metaverse. It is likely here to stay. This creates an opportunity to experiment with AR as a way to enhance customer experience and interaction. 

Deeper client engagement 

Much like the way prospects move through the stages of the funnel, we’re seeing firms moving towards the bottom of the funnel too. At this point, most have the awareness and engagement activity flourishing. They’re now turning their attention to deepening the engagement with prospects and qualifying them as leads primed for a sales contact. 

We’re seeing companies get their marketing automation houses in order to power swifter, more trackable movement through the funnel. 

To this end, there’s an increased focus on segmentation, marketing automation, journey mapping, data management, analytics and thought leadership content – which are all essentials in the lead generation toolkit.