Why fund managers need to be better listeners

Fund managers are good at communicating with investors and potential investors: they publish a broad range of information, some fund-specific, some not, and make imaginative use of creative design; they’re also increasingly savvy about the power of digital channels. So far, so good – but if you’ve made an investment in communication, how do you ensure you’re getting a return on your money?

The answer lies in bringing the conversation full circle. Communication is a two-way exercise – when you issue communications material online, you’ll get a response, but you need to listen carefully to what people are saying if you want to capitalise.

The responses you’re most interested in won’t be verbal – you should certainly be prepared to engage with people who take the time to provide comments on your communications, but they’re going to be in the minority. Instead (or as well), focus on using digital analytics tools that will report back on what investors are doing when and after they looked at your material.

The idea is a relatively simple one: if you’re able to track the online footprint of your audience, you can identify what works with them and what doesn’t; that enables you to hone your communications in future and, ultimately, to convert more potential investors into paying customers.

It’s not simply a question of monitoring how many people are looking at, say, a post you put up on your website or an email you send out to a large number of people, though these statistics are interesting and useful in their own right. You also need to see which specific bits of your communications are most engaging the audience – what gets read most often, how long people spend looking at the material, and what they tend to do next (do they leave your site, click on something else, or download an application form, for example).

Armed with this data, you can do two things much more effectively. First, you’ll have the information you need to tailor your future communication material much more precisely – to deliver more of what the majority of people are actually looking for, while cutting back on the stuff that fails to engage. While there will always be some material you have to provide – for regulatory purposes, for example – it doesn’t make sense to waste resources on non-obligatory communications that no-one is bothering to read.

The second use for the data is to help you get smarter with other sales and marketing activity. Start by compiling data on your existing investor base – you need to build a profile of people who have already opted to trust you with their money. Next, map that profile across to non-investors who are looking at your communications, either because you’ve sent them the material or because they’ve actively searched for it. Amongst that constituency, there will be some who look similar to your current investor profile and others who look very different, so try to segment them accordingly.

As you seek to convert these non-investors into people who buy your products and services, it makes sense to concentrate your marketing firepower on the first group. They look like people who’ve already become customers, which makes it more likely you’ll have success persuading them to do the same.

The best approach is a scientific one. By scoring investors according to each of the actions they take in response to a particular communication, you’ll build a numerical model of your client base that you can use to identify which non-clients to focus on for the next sales effort.

If that sounds too complicated, with the right software and applications, it’s possible to automate this process as part of a wider sales and marketing strategy that is rooted in data rather than instinct. And over time, all of your communications will be tailored towards what people are telling you they want to hear from you, and they’ll generate invaluable intelligence about your potential customer base.

The bottom line is that this approach will increase the efficiency of your marketing operation, by focusing resources where they will be most productive and cutting out unproductive effort; the ultimate prize will be higher sales revenues.

White Paper: Future of the Asset Management Industry – Eight Perspectives

Why fund managers need to be better listeners 1We asked eight leading financial professionals: “Where do you see the asset management industry in 5 years?”. Read their responses across a broad range of topics including fees, millennials, robo-advisors, ETFs, index funds and regulation.