Industry Leaders Outlook: Product & Marketing Roundtable

It’s no secret that the wealth and asset management industry is facing rapid evolution in terms of product development and marketing trends.

As the industry continues to transform, Matt Fronczke, Director, Analytics & Consulting at SS&C Research, says future success lies in the asset manager’s ability to provide personalized investment solutions, which will require a paradigm shift in how they develop their engagement strategies.

“Distribution organizations are redefining their coverage models, their territories, the sales roles they have in your organizations, how they manage territories, and how they engage with advisors,” he said while moderating a recent #WebinarWednesday event featuring experts from The TCW Group and Columbia Threadneedle.

In this new era, Fronczke said firms are increasingly zeroing in on the advisors they can influence; using segmentation, rather than geography, to define territories; and defining a continuum of thoughtful roles aligned with advisor segments. They’re also overlapping territories to allow for resource flexibility, and turning to advisors’ needs and preference to drive engagement. 

Alex McCulloch, Group Managing Director, Head of Retail Marketing at The TCW Group, said firms need to take a more targeted approach to new product development, seeking necessary feedback and buy-in earlier in the process and for more constituents, both internally and externally. 

“Gone are the days of ‘build it, and they will come’ — we need to be much more focused on the relevant and unique solution here,” McCulloch said. “It’s also important to set the right expectations internally. In the past few years, rationalization and shrinking shelf space have created a longer and more arduous onboarding and adoption timeline for new product development, so honest and open internal communication is crucial.”

Leslie Walstrom, Head of North America Marketing at Columbia Threadneedle, said her group is working on leading conversations with broad capabilities rather than jumping to a five-star product. 

“We start with what’s important to the people we’re serving — advisors, investors, firms that we work with — and then present a capability that might solve the problem before getting into different vehicles,” she said. “We’re essentially flipping the model on its head.”

The Power of Data

Fronczke said data and technology are becoming increasingly critical in day-to-day processes as the industry strives to become more effective. McCulloch agreed. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time recently improving our market segmentation to ensure we approach interactions efficiently,” he said. “But I also think you need to be strategic and realistic in that you’re going to have to put personnel costs and resources behind that data to make it really effective. Firms that think they can just buy a data pack and on day one see impact are going to be sorely disappointed.”

From a marketing perspective, Walstrom said her team is working to align closely with segmentation within the sales team to complement their efforts from a targeting perspective. She is also focused on measuring engagement levels to determine whether the strategies executed are working. 

“We’re looking not just at who we’re getting in front of, but what content people are engaging with, what they’re clicking on, and if we’re doing a paid media activity, the cost per engagement,” she said. “And if something’s not working, we’ll abandon it and try something new.”

Note: Although the observations contained in this work represent the best thoughts of the individuals comprising the NICSA panel, they do not necessarily reflect the views of NICSA or any of its member organizations. Matters addressed in this work may touch upon legal or regulatory matters, however nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice. You should contact your own counsel in order to obtain legal advice regarding these or any other matters.

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