As asset management firms face increased competition, consolidation, and fee pressure, highly targeted communications strategies are more important than ever. The most sophisticated firms are implementing programs that do far more than just boost executive visibility and social media engagement; they can help sell funds.
Here are five ways that communications teams at asset management firms can support AUM growth.
1. Be specific about your investment thesis.
This is more important than ever in an uncertain market environment characterized by heightened volatility and dispersion across major asset classes. As asset owners and financial reporters brace for a wide range of possible outcomes, managers should be prepared to explain how they are approaching this economic environment and finding bright spots.
It just doesn’t cut it anymore to say you are “cautiously optimistic” or you “look at high-growth sectors.” Fixed income investors, for example, can promote products that benefit from high interest rates, while equity managers can emphasize sectors and geographies where they see opportunities. Communications teams must work with fund managers and marketers to understand and articulate points of differentiation in the investment approach, holdings or performance.
2. Align with distribution teams to grow the sales pipeline.
The most sophisticated public relations account teams have regular check-ins with distribution teams to understand their goals and priorities. These distribution teams bring valuable insights from their conversations with investors. When PR teams understand the asset classes and distribution channels that are getting traction, they can find creative ways to support these areas in a regulatory-compliant manner.
Specific tactics may include LinkedIn Live sessions for investors and owned content with lead-generation tools. These strategies can help reach quality audiences and grow the sales pipeline.
In some instances, asset managers may see inflows right after a strong piece of media coverage about an investment strategy. For example, a close-end fund may experience the “Barron’s Bounce” after being featured in such a widely read outlet. PR teams can measure the value of the coverage by asking the right qualitative questions. These may include:
- Are we generating quality business leads?
- Does the messaging resonate with clients and prospects?
- Are the clients and prospects seeing media placements and digital content?
- Are the clients and prospects opening marketing emails and downloading content?
- Is there more engagement on social channels?
For asset management firms, this type of assessment can be far more impactful than traditional quantitative reporting in assessing the value of a PR campaign. Typical quantitative reporting focuses on the number of media placements and the size of each outlet’s audience, which is not as insightful as analyzing actual client engagement.
3. Engage with trade publications to reach key investor groups.
Don’t overlook niche trade publications. They can help you reach the investor groups that matter most. Identify targets based on the quality of the audience, rather than just the size.
While trade publications don’t usually get as much web traffic or print circulation as mainstream news media, they can be highly trusted sources of information and insights for institutional investors and financial intermediaries. Some asset managers that target accredited investors tell me that they actually prefer the trades over mainstream financial outlets.
Reporters at these publications also tend to have a very deep understanding of their audiences whereas mainstream news outlets typically need to appeal to a wider readership. Trade publications often host events, podcasts, videos and award programs, all of which can facilitate relationship-building with reporters and potential investors.
4. Don’t count on a news story.
Companies may be hesitant to issue a press release about a milestone because they are unsure if it will generate media coverage. Reporters don’t always write about AUM growth or awards from other publications or organizations.
Still, these important milestones are worthy of announcing and promoting via digital and social channels. Companies can generate search engine visibility, boost social media engagement and build credibility.
These milestones may include:
- Firm AUM or group AUM
- Investment accolades, such as Morningstar ratings or Lipper awards
- New hires or appointments in investing and distribution teams
- Mutual fund/ETF launches or private fund closings
5.Tailor your commentary program to what your audience cares about most. Hint: it’s the economy.
It’s also important to continue your economic and market commentary program to maintain a steady drumbeat of media results and social media posts.
Economists, investors and market strategists should continue to express points of view on government data releases, FOMC interest-rate decisions, and major market moves. Contrarian views can be especially appealing to reporters. Bill Gross, for example, recently generated significant media coverage with his prediction that a recession is likely in the fourth quarter.
There’s little doubt that strong and consistent communication contributes to stakeholder confidence in a firm’s ability to navigate this challenging market. With the right industry experience and media relationships, communicators can partner with management, distribution and investment teams to help boost AUM and achieve other business objectives.
Nicole Hakimi, Senior Vice President ( Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org)