Magazine Issues » November 2015

SPONSORED FEATURE: The digital embrace

It’s time for asset managers to lead the pack in digital media, not merely follow. Marketing partnerships now exist to make this possible, says CLS Communication.

The digital media revolution is transforming industries globally, and asset management is no exception. Asset managers and fund providers are operating in an increasingly crowded marketplace, and investment performance alone is no longer sufficient to secure an edge over the competition. Like it or not, the prospects and customers of asset management companies (not only consumers and advisers, but also institutions made up of individuals using digital and social media on a daily basis) rely heavily on new technologies for advice, information and help in deciding who to invest with. Disruptive players in the industry – notably new entrants that have made use of mobile channels from the outset – are already taking advantage of this trend, with low cost bases, innovative marketing campaigns and greater emphasis on client experience and choice.

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CLS Communication, a language services provider that focuses strongly on the financial sector, is one company that has witnessed the transformation at first hand. In recent years, more and more of its clients in the fund industry have been looking to their global digital strategy as a way of emotionally engaging with customers across multiple channels, devices and – crucially – geographies.

This is part of a growing trend across the financial services industry. Some big names have fully embraced the zeitgeist and are investing heavily in digital. In fact, a recent study by Econsultancy indicates that 64% of companies in this industry plan to experiment significantly with digital in the coming years. In addition, asset management organisations are beginning to understand the implications of big data as a means of gaining insights and building close relationships with clients internationally.

But as well as bringing new opportunities, the digitisation of the asset management industry presents some very specific challenges. Not least is the fact that the success of a digital strategy – the return on digital investment – is hard to quantify. 

Asset managers also face a unique set of circumstances. These include not only stringent regulatory and compliance constraints, but also clients whose sophisticated and complex needs make them a tricky audience to target. Financial advisors, for instance (a large part of the audience for investment managers), are a hybrid between retail and institutional and do not fit neatly into either category.

Then there is the task of targeting multiple geographical markets. A significant investment in a global marketing campaign may become necessary in a number of scenarios: rebranding (website redesign), expansion (entering new markets, creating content for new channels – such as email, web, blog, social and video – or developing new product offerings) or a business change (such as a new content management system or strategy). It is no mean feat to get such a programme right in the home locale. Multiply it by the number of target locales and you risk ending up with a practically unmanageable web of processes, stakeholders, tasks, interactions and requirements (see fig. 1).

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Given the different scenarios, markets and players involved, launching a global campaign can therefore seem a daunting task, with many pitfalls along the way. Avoiding these becomes much easier with the right choice of global marketing partner: one that will do the heavy lifting and work as an extension to an asset management organisation’s in-house team. The ideal partner will also have the necessary global scale and reach, as well as the local expertise, to help build a strategy that focuses on two key concepts in particular. The first is the need to make content locally relevant, whatever the market; the second is the decoupling of the creative marketing process from the execution. 

The need for relevant content in each locale is sometimes referred to as “stickiness”. In the past, the approach to localisation has largely been to translate – and thus replicate – the same content across different geographical markets. Stickiness, by contrast, is based on awareness of cultural differences. One simple example is knowing which search engines are most popular in different countries. A key source of information is social listening, i.e. monitoring social media. To borrow an example from another industry, Nestlé has “listening teams” and “newsrooms” for this very purpose. This process necessarily entails a shift away from translation and even from localisation in its traditional sense, towards content creation, with dedicated writers working on copy tailored to each of the asset manager’s key markets.

The second key concept, “decoupling”, means unbundling the creative side of marketing from the execution. This is something that leading companies in other verticals are already doing. What it means for you, as an asset manager, is that your creative agency continues to develop the concepts and creative ideas for your campaign, while you entrust execution and actual content creation to a partner with specific knowledge of all target markets and the global expertise to act as a “one-stop shop”. The result is fewer interactions, stakeholders and tasks – meaning improved time to market and greater cost-effectiveness. Put simply, decoupling is less expensive than using a creative agency for both concept and execution, and provides greater transparency as to where your marketing budget is actually going (see fig. 2).  

CLS CommunicationWith the appropriate strategy and relevant content, asset management companies can offer the all-important client experience that sets them apart from the competition. To do that, they need a partner with the requisite industry specialisation and insight, that’s able to offer a fully integrated global marketing approach. This requires linguistic and cultural expertise alongside the scalable global process necessary to accelerate the development and delivery of locally relevant content.

The financial services industry is traditionally a fast follower rather than a leader when it comes to digital investment. If you are confused as to how your digital strategy should look, and how much budget should be allocated to it, you are not alone. The good news is that, with the right partner and the right model, your digital marketing effort can be a manageable, successful investment, improving your time to market, helping you engage better with clients and supporting the growth of your organisation.

©2015 funds europe