How financial services tapped into the World Cup

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Oh, what a glorious year.
The 2018 World Cup, first met with some skepticism, has been one of the competition’s most memorable tournaments for years, and for many reasons. Champions of Brazil’s 2014 effort Germany – as well as footballing figureheads Ronaldo and Messi – making it only to the last 16 at best, for instance. Or the fact that many underdogs, from Mexico to Japan to hosts Russia, continually gnashed away for a slice of victory. And of course, the football almost coming home.
It’s an event so highly revered worldwide that, for financial institutions, the ability to market yourselves in line with the greatest game on the planet generates huge readership. Parallels between funds and footie has never been so highly on the agenda, or so apt; the backing of teams certainly reflects the risk investors have to face, or the gelling of the best national squads could indicate a remarkable diversified portfolio lineup.
Content marketing for asset management has certainly picked up as a result of the 2018 World Cup, and here’s some of the creative ways that institutions played the field. Thinking we may as well get in on the World Cup marketing ourselves, we’ve thrown in some football-related characteristics for each example.

Investment Insights

A constant topic of conversation for investment blogs are insight pieces. However, given the occasion, why not tailor investment strategies on sporting examples?
Miton Group
Miton-World Cup
This was certainly on the agenda for Miton Group, who decided that looking at the volatility of the group stages (upsets aplenty) would certainly link to an investor’s instinct in the face of uncertainty. In this short article – Tales of the unexpected – fund manager David Jane muses at lessons to be learned from the World Cup, particularly in regards to pundit confusion and managerial strategy. A neat yet exploratory piece of content.
Characteristic of: Diego Godín – investment pieces are a tried-and-tested piece of content for asset managers, with the added lean on pragmatism present in these piece. This is certainly akin to Uruguay’s consistently clever leader Godín; the bedrock of his national squad.
A similar case applies when analysing this quarter’s major equity markets, á la Schroders’ Duncan Lamont, which you can read here. The Head of Research and Analytics looks at how stock pickers’ choices are not always as expected (Germany’s opening loss to Mexico perhaps?), and how emerging markets has underperformed, both on the pitch and off, in terms of currency. It’s an exemplary balance of astute market insight and World Cup analysis.
Characteristic of: Andrés Iniesta – the holistic look at global markets here, and precise measurements to assess the valuations of stock markets highlights a clear knowledge of the game, reminiscent of Spain’s talisman. He remains one of the most intelligent central midfielders of all time, able to pick apart defenses with simple passes having assessed his surroundings before receiving the ball at his feet. A class act.
Before the start of the tournament, Swiss firm UBS (Switzerland did well this year, didn’t they?) released a World Cup special of their May investment report, focusing on – you guessed it – football. Giving a thorough background on the funding of tournaments for any host, giving a Russia ‘by the numbers’ infographic, assessing football lessons for investing, and trying to determine the overall winner makes this bumper report an excellent globe-trotting masterclass.
Characteristic of: Harry Kane – written opinion, infographics, statistical graphs, photography: this piece of content has it all. An all-round player, very much like England’s Harry Kane. Tottenham’s star striker has grown into his captain’s role by perfecting every skill in his arsenal. Yes, that is the irony there.

Visual Content

The vibrant colours of the incredible home crowd this year, as well as the intrepid away supporters, added much excitement to the main sporting event. That being said, visual content goes a long way for financial firms too.
Old Mutual Global Investors

Old Mutual Global Investors are fairly specialist when it comes to creating infographics to accompany their financial findings. Of course, they wouldn’t be here without some evidence of football related market commentary; the fund manager accentuated their written thoughts of 2018’s stock market winners in a ‘half-time scorers’ picture, and looked at the difference in the financing of tickets for the finals due to the Russian exchange rate.
Characteristic of: Philippe Coutinho – there’s no case of ‘all style, no substance’ here. Old Mutual Global Investors’ consistency in creating attractive infographics for their social media content highlights a creative flair akin to one of Brazil’s superstars – Coutinho – whose bewildering skill and outside-of-the-box finishes only accentuate his smart footballing brain.
Bloomberg-World Cup
Another successful visual content strategy is video. It offers the ability to present a wide range of thoughts into a condensed, digestible package. Here, Bloomberg Markets presented a World Cup special looking into a topic very much of interest to financial savvies – the macro economics of the tournament with global economist of HSBC James Pomeroy. There’s a particularly insightful piece looking at financial indicators of Group F.
Characteristic of: Luka Modrić – expert insight, concise accuracy and confidence are what are mainly shown from this piece of content, all factors which make us the profile of Croatian captain Luka Modrić, one of the world’s greatest midfielders that has honed his craft and knowledge of the game and exudes this expertise time and time again.


There’s nothing like a good piece of competition; indeed, the World Cup ranks up there as being one of the best examples of it. Hence, asset managers decided to take inspiration from the event to craft their own asset-based competitive tournaments.
Legal & General Investment Management
LGIM took the economic and financial markets criteria per country to create its own brand of competitive tournament – the Multi-Asset World Cup. The competition starts with countries appointed to LGIM’s fund managers who act as ‘country coaches’; the group stages then played teams against each other based on government debt as percentage of GDP, income inequality, and political risk score. The finals however took into account inflation and unemployment rate, equity returns, and the technological readiness index and the infrastructure index from the World Economic Forum competitiveness rankings.
Characteristic index: Toni Kroos – seemingly workmanlike and methodical, this task of transferring competitive football to economics highlights a juggling of method and fun in equal measure. Despite Germany’s lack of success this year, Toni Kroos’ dogged and excellent midfield play was juggled with the ability to keep us on edge. We’re talking about that goal against Sweden to keeps the Germans in the competition early on.
Toroso Asset Management

A similar approach came courtesy of Toroso Asset Management, who constructed their own tournament using ETF criteria (a country’s presence in the US ETF market and their favorite ETF from each country in the final 16). The company had used the same idea for the NCAA basketball tournament back in March. You can read a full review of their criteria at this link, and it’s extremely telling who the winner ended up being…
Characteristic of: Kylian Mbappé – this piece of content is full of excellent ideas and focusing on one of the most buzzworthy themes in the fund world – ETFs. Similarly exciting and the so-called ‘new kid on the block’ is Frenchman Kylian Mbappé, who has outclassed his competition to take the mantle from the now traditional top world players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Goldman Sachs
Data-Goldman-Sachs-World Cup
In a fairly inventive and technological way to predict outcomes is the effort from Goldman Sachs using their quant models. The strategy, as outlined by Investment Week, took into account 200,000 statistical models and data regarding individual player and team performance. The judgement was made after running one million simulations. It ultimately predicted the crowning of Belgium, which while eventually incorrect was not far from the truth.
Characteristic of: VAR – despite the criticism of big data, machine learning and automation, there are clear advantages to digitalisation in fund management. Also drawing skepticism and kudos alike was the Video Assistant Referee – a technological advancement which could revolutionise the righting of many wrongs in the beautiful game.
Clearly then, the World Cup provided a whole heap of inspiration for asset managers to craft inventive takes on their original content, and with the tournament over, we can hope to see the same marketing techniques for many of the world’s best international sporting events to come.
Congratulations to Les Bleus, and bring on Qatar 2022!

Elliot Burr

Elliot Burr

Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.