Asset managers. Game on! 16 November 2018

Our latest Living Ratings report on the world's leading asset managers shows that competition within the digital arena is on fire in 2018, with the vast majority of firms making significant changes to their dotcom and social media investments. This year’s report highlights major moves from amongst players of all sizes. And even companies who have increased their individual scores have slipped in the rankings, as the competition has heated up. Fiercely.

Brains, brawn and branding
Bulge bracket firms J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank (37th and 78th in 2017, respectively) saw their asset management businesses skyrocket into the Top 10 this year. And proving once again that you don’t need AUM muscle to be a smart marketer, smaller asset managers like Russell Investments, GAM, Ballie Gifford, Putnam and Macquarie – none of whom make the cut for the IPE Top 50 – all scored in our Ratings’ Top 20.

What does this mean?
In the digital arena, all’s fair in love and war, and asset managers around the world are learning the importance of battling to create a best-in-class user experience for the financial advisers they so covet.

This is why we’ve seen an unprecedented push from our 'Lacklustre' category – where brands are failing at both engagement and evidence – into a dramatic increase in the Focused category, where the investment in dotcom functionality and social media presence has outpaced the creation and curation of relevant content.

Critical content
Content matters. That’s why it is so difficult to get right. Nearly two-thirds of asset managers are dropping the ball. Either they’re not keeping their content fresh, not customising it for the right audience, or not starting with an actionable strategy to solve these problems. And as asset managers are content-factories by nature, being able to produce thought leadership is rarely the issue. It’s more about knowing how to engage, entice and excite the audience with a clear distinct perspective, brought to life through images, infographics, animation, video and even audio.

Identity crisis
Whilst a consistent content strategy helps to establish audience expectations, that’s a main responsibility of the brand. Fewer than half of the companies in our Ratings bother to include any brand positioning on their home pages. This is down from 68% last year. Perhaps this is arrogance on behalf of the self-important headliners in the sector, but it’s surely a lost opportunity for virtually every brand that needs to stand apart in a very crowded marketplace. Dotcoms, with the full support of social channels, are the first (and last) lines of branding declaration and defense. Tell your audience who you are and what you stand for! Mean it and live it, and you’ll see them come around for your content more and more.

Social is about people
Our 2018 Ratings confirms increases in asset managers’ presence on social media, with the biggest rise registered for Instagram. Overall, companies are choosing social channels to focus on their “people skills.” They’re using LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to tell stories about their culture, employee diversity, and corporate social responsibility programs, whilst bolstering the business stories on those channels with postings on Twitter and YouTube as well.

Article by Kate Shaw and Kevin Windorf.

How can we help?
There are many useful lessons in our Living Ratings and we hope you find this report helpful and inspirational. To find out how Living Group can transform your digital effectiveness and create difference for your brand online, please contact Kate Shaw in London, Aliena Lai in Hong Kong, or Kevin Windorf in New York.

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