BOSTON—Mutual fund wholesalers’ sales pitches are unimaginative and all too often the same, said speakers at FundForum USA 2010 here Monday, during the session “Managing Expenses in a Changing Distribution Market.”
“The end user has a hard time differentiating between funds and even the registered investment advisers who sell them,” said Ed Butowsky, president , CEO and wealth advisor at Chapwood Customhedge Portfolio Advisory Services. “RIAs, brokers and investors are bored to death. Talk to them differently,” said Butowsky, noting that he himself has taken advantage of the celebrity and sports clients he serves by appearing on the MSN reality show “The Invested Life.”
Wholesalers might want to consider e-mailing spirited videos to make themselves stand out, Butowsky said. “At the end of the day, we’re salespeople. Those who understand investment management and portfolio structure will win the day—but find creative ways to do it.”
Rich DeSalvo, principal of Richard DeSalvo Consulting, noted that when he oversaw fund selection as the head gatekeeper at Morgan Stanley, he could not be less interested in a fund’s holdings or number of Morningstar stars. Of the 110 fund companies that he dealt with, only three successfully sold to him, and they did so by acting as if they earnestly wanted the business—even though each of these companies had trillions of dollars in assets under management. “They were hungry,” DeSalvo said. One, for example, took the initiative of asking him for profiles of his top advisers and then showed him the funds that could meet their needs.
“As a broker, I want to know how are you going to grow my pie and increase my profits,” DeSalvo said. “Ditch the pitch books. Use a white board instead . Don’t talk at me. Tell your story from the heart.”