In a period of volatile markets and rising interest rate concerns that can make it hard to deliver performance, for managers who sell through intermediaries, you can add to the mix a highly fragmented marketplace. They have their work cut out for them. 

Managers’ ranges of clients each have a variety of product needs and different fee structures that place extra demands to distribute products efficiently and drive distribution scale. Managers also realize that absent a proper distribution plan in place, their business is vulnerable in a competitive landscape. Even those firms with immense distribution capabilities may find it increasingly challenging to find the right clients for their products. 

In today’s fluid market, money is constantly in motion, and advisors tend to control much of its movement and momentum. A couple of quarters of lagging performance can result in negative capital flows. So it’s vital that asset managers define and segment their business to determine how the end user’s behavior patterns affect asset flows, and then respond to their concerns and be proactive with products that meet their needs.

RECOGNIZE DECISION MAKERS

The centers of influence can be a disparate group, and tend to vary based upon the type of intermediary firm. They may be the sales team, the research group, or the relationship managers and client-facing people. But correctly identifying those leverage points can make the difference between success and failure. 

Success is centered on finding the right ones, giving them what they need and then doing what it takes to make their jobs easier. Does the sales team need more responsive communication when the markets take a turn? Does the research group want to see performance and attribution data presented a certain way? Will their end clients benefit from having face time with you? Addressing the wrong group wastes resources and won’t drive sales. Savvy asset managers need to know these groups and their touch points.

Just like any sports contender, each asset manager must scout the playing field.  Not just who their clients are, but also, who are their competitors? Getting that information requires knowing the products that advisers offer their clients, and how they use them. Unfortunately, this is an area in which asset managers often lag — they don’t know how their products are being used.  And if they don’t know who is buying it, how can they focus their efforts with targeted communication to garner broader sales? Identifying any third-party strategist who may use their product, coupled with understanding how it fits within their universe and how they distribute it to other advisors, can increase their reach. 

Product wholesalers also demand attention from managers. They need focus — along with an informed view of product availability, details on the fee structure for their existing clients and new prospects, and accurate account minimums so they can find the right opportunities. Case in point: A wholesaler with an alternative strategy such as real estate investment trusts doesn’t want to waste time courting an adviser that typically doesn’t include REITs within client portfolios.

DATA IMPORTANCE

The key to all of these efforts is having the right data — and using that data to develop, focus and refine distribution plans. The more insight asset managers have into who is using their products, and in what manner they’re being used, the better managers can hone their business plan and concentrate their efforts on creating a sound and efficient distribution strategy.

Fortunately for asset managers, data coupled with integrated technology can deliver a powerful solution. A robust analytics platform, equipped with the right tools and metrics to help them gather insight into who is using their products, and where their opportunities exist, can drive greater distribution and sales.  

What does a good analytics platform look like? At a minimum, it should detail who is investing in the manager’s products, and include the deal terms and key contacts. The technology is as frictionless as possible, and has the bandwidth to show them how effective their distribution strategy is by firm, channel, product type, and program. It can show them which proposals are resulting in purchase of their products, filtered by firm, region, and program, and the percentage of their market share compared with a broader universe. Most importantly, it can illustrate where their best opportunities are and where to focus efforts as a result. 

With an effective analytics platform, asset managers can generate reports on their products’ asset flows and redemptions to help them better understand how market fluctuations impact their business. A view to how their strategies compare with similar ones at other firms can be invaluable, as well as knowing their research status and availability to advisers. Asset managers also will want to see their share of the end-user’s wallet, and easily note asset flows and growth rates, empowering them with opportunities to expand their business by allocating their sales and distribution resources more effectively.

Successful asset management firms of tomorrow will incorporate data analytics into their business distribution strategies. Identifying a platform solution that can help deliver actionable intelligence about products and clients will be the key for asset managers — not only to help elevate their bottom-line, but also to maintain their competitive edge.  

Estee Jimerson is managing director, head of asset manager distribution and engagement at Envestnet.

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