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How to market your managed investment scheme?

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We are seeking to assist managers on their range of options in Australia in regards to marketing their managed investment scheme. This paper relates to both retail and wholesale schemes.  Specifically, we are seeking to provide a road map relating to:

  • Challenges around industry jargon
  • Adapting your messaging to the level of investor
  • Long lead time in new relationships

 

The Information Process

Marketing is an essential part of running an investment scheme. Investors invest with investment managers they know and trust and like, and they can’t know and trust and like an investment manager unless the manager is spending some time marketing to them.

However, there are a plethora of different marketing initiatives that investment managers can be undertaking at any one time.

These can include print marketing, email and other digital campaigns, road shows, conference attendance, or revamping marketing material to make it contemporary and on par with competitors.

The implications for an investment manager are that there are ever changing priorities when it comes to marketing, let alone managing client’s money. How does an investment management business evaluate which initiatives should be focused on at which time? Do they adopt a ‘To Do List’ that keeps growing, or develop a Marketing Strategy that can keep them in check along the way?

At Global Merces we strongly believe the latter course of action is best for investment managers – large and small, and this Information Sheet focuses on the importance of having a properly developed marketing strategy.

All Global Merces investment managers have access to the Executive Team and can draw upon their experience in the market and marketing to both wholesale and retail investors.

 

Challenges in asset management marketing

Any marketing text book will quickly tell you that the 4 P’s of marketing, Product, Place, Positioning and Price are the foundations of a marketing strategy and are relevant for all products.

Global Merces would add Trust into the mix. In fact, with Trust, you can time travel down the path to someone’s heart and mind, without the dollars spent on advertising and deliver your core message to an open willing investor.

The speed of trust is remarkable. It turns $100,000 investments into $1,200,000. It turns a ‘who is this and what are you selling me’ phone call to ‘so glad you rang me, where do I sign.

 

The asset management industry has some very specific marketing challenges

Fragmentation of access – there are increasingly many ways to access the same asset class, this is particularly the case in equities where they can be accessed via Managed Funds, ETF’s, LIC’s or directly. This makes it much harder to target investors.

Australian investors are increasingly becoming more adept at seeking out investment solutions that appeal to them and this has led to niche access portals developing including direct to managed funds by a maverick of an investment manager; DIY access platform allowing investors to trade at low cost direct to the ASX; the mFund platform with it myriad of options or the traditional and still largest access – financial planning.

Increased regulation – compliance requirements are onerous and cannot be ignored. Even the simplest marketing material must go through an internal compliance check or you risk breaching of licence and being removed from your fund by the RE/Trustee.

An internal document can be created to formalize the ongoing journey of marketing from creation to approval. This helps protect the rest of the business from a poor word selection such as ‘guaranteed’ or ‘consistent’.

Building relationships – in some industries mass marketing has appeal and works. Our view is in asset management this is less likely to be successful. Mass marketing helps but will not make or break the deal. Marketing therefore requires careful segmentation so that accurate targeting of the right investor at the right time builds relationships.

Each investor you talk to will have a completely different understanding of economics, investing and how your product fits in their life, or not. Understanding the types of investors that exist will help you refine you message and target the investors you want to reach.

Some of the types of investors out in the market include mum and dad investors or retail investors. Some include HNWI or sophisticated investors. But be careful! Just because someone is a HNWI or has the certification to say they are sophisticated, doesn’t mean they have the foggiest idea of what you are talking about or your investment product.

Industry jargon – while every industry has its language, only in fund management could the words wholesale, sophisticated, retail, unregistered, hedged, NAV, and compliance have multiple meanings that seem to be intent on confusing the audience. This is likely because the industry benefits significantly from investors throwing their hand up in the air and placing their wealth in the hands of a financial planner.

Here are just two example of jargon-busting phrases you will need:

Uncorrelated = the movement of one thing is not connected to the other

Sophisticated = a regulatory definition of a type of investor based on their asset and income, not their sense of class or refined approach to investing

 

Marketing Strategy

Global Merces’ typical marketing strategy depending on the manager and their size and asset class coverage will be made up of 3 key parts.

  • Internal – positioning, investment story and documentation
  • External – brand positioning, press, PR, industry events, insights, being considered a point of reference
  • External – a distribution program of marketing meetings with both existing investors and prospective investors;

The aim of all three steps at all times should be to build familiarity and ultimately a long term relationship between the investment manager and investors.

  

Once you have the investors’ attention:

Know your audience: A big part of meeting success is doing your homework. Learn all you can about your potential client or investor. Read their documentation and website. If you have any questions or concerns, call or email your client contact person beforehand to address these.

Tailor your presentation to your audience: You often only get one opportunity to get in front of a potential client. First impressions count. A presentation that is tailored to their needs is far more impressive and likely to be more engaged with, than a ‘standard pitch’. There are issues and themes that are relevant or not relevant to different market segments. To conduct a successful meeting, you need to be cognisant of these.

Less is always more: Present your Fund in a manner that’s short, sweet and to the point. Typically for a first meeting you will have one hour. Make sure there are not too many slides that can’t be covered in that time. Investors need to be confident that they can communicate your Fund’s strengths to their clients. If they don’t grasp your investment philosophy in a short time span, they may presume that their clients won’t understand it either.

Don’t focus on performance: Performance will have probably got you into the meeting, the potential investor will certainly have checked it out before you meet. The purpose of the meeting is not to talk about performance, you want this investor through the good times and not so good. The meeting is to convince them you know what you are doing and are doing it in a logical, consistent and repeatable way. Performance should get limited attention during a marketing meeting, focus on the stuff that is not easy for them to understand before they meet you.

Be organised: Prior to any meeting all information should be sent for pre-reading at least a couple of days beforehand, including the pitch book if available.  If you are using hard copies, have them bound and have plenty of spares. If you will be using presentation equipment, make sure the meeting organiser has been notified of this.  We are advocates of using as many pieces of collateral you can to demonstrate the investment process and bring it to life. Things such as investment thesis papers and research papers add depth and meat to the story.

Ask questions: Intelligent questions show the client you are interested and engaged.

Listen: We are often in meetings where the presenter is so caught up in their own train of thought that they forget to listen to the clues that the client is giving him about their likes and dislikes. Pay attention and listen and then try and tailor the messages in the presentation to address these issues. Also pay attention to when meetings get side tracked and don’t be afraid to butt in, and get them back on track so you can focus on the messages you want to leave with them.

Rome wasn’t built in a dayYour relationship won’t be either: Don’t expect that you will be able to develop a relationship or have meeting success after one meeting. Sales success takes time and the first marketing meeting is one step in this journey. Follow up After the meeting is over, don’t just let the client or prospective client drop off your radar. Send them an email to follow up the meeting then call in a few days to get their feedback. And continue to follow up on a regular basis until they make a commitment to pursue or invest or advise they are headed in another direction.

Your company’s culture is a potent sales force. Who you are as a team, the promises you provide to investors and how you conduct business are powerful draw cards. Investors don’t invest in funds or investment strategies – they invest in people.