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10 steps for managers to raise assets

Have you always wondered what institutional research professionals actually think of your firm's marketing strategy? Are you looking to increase your firm's efficiency?

Asset managers tend to make the same marketing mistakes, according to research professionals tasked with hiring. The more efficient firms can be in their marketing and sales activities, the more effective they will be.

Here are their top 10 recommendations:

1. WHAT'S YOUR GAME PLAN?
Billions of dollars are wasted annually on the wrong product, marketing effort or channel. Step back and evaluate your firm's offerings. Affirming product efficacy in advance can ensure managers are in the right place, with the right offering, at the right time. Homework must be a formal exercise with in-depth competitive analysis and detailed evaluation of offerings' terms, as well as a formal review of your firm's game plan.

2. MAXIMIZE OPPORTUNITIES
Managers work diligently to get in front of the right audience. Yet often these chances are wasted with ill-prepared or ill-conceived presentations. Is the firm ready with the major touchpoints of an institutional marketing and sales campaign? This is a big opportunity that should not be wasted. Prepare in advance through trial runs, internal Q&As and a full review of every component.

Sandra Powers Murphy is a sales consultant at marketing firm Noble ARK Ventures.

3. MANAGE COSTS
Institutional marketing is a marathon, not a sprint: spend wisely, be frugal and put money where it matters. Think about what will work within the budget, what will match the firm's culture and which channels make the most sense. Share the game plan internally in writing, including the length of time the firm will commit and what resources will be employed.

4. FOCUS ON FIT NOT PERFORMANCE
Managers often rely too much on performance to justify a lack of communication and content about the underpinnings of the portfolio and team. This does not help make a case for an allocation. Rethink your focus, extending the purview to the broader context of the firm, its philosophy, professionals and money management processes.

5. WHAT RISK MEANS TO INSTITUTIONS
Managers should remain focused on firm viability and the risk of a strategy failing to survive its growth years. Managers can best overcome these risks by having a diligent, detailed and cost-effective business plan that is well articulated throughout the process, and by effectively communicating their fit into an existing and diversified portfolio.

6. SHOW UP AND FOLLOW UP
A key component of long-term success is consistency. Institutional research professionals have enough experience to know how true this is. Questions institutions are asking themselves include: How long will the firm keep pinging us? Will they send something value-added beyond the norm that we can sink our teeth into, learn from and utilize? Are they consistently pleasant, present and accountable as market conditions change?

7. STRUCTURE MATTERS
Firm and offering structures are critical elements to successful asset gathering. Managers must have the right resource game plan, including the completion of an internal infrastructure review and positioning exercise before defining their best approach. The second element of structure is the product offering. Respondents in Noble Ark's study, the Road to AUM: Driving Assets Under Management through Effective Marketing and Sales, cited manager marketing attempts as a fool's errand for marketers when the pricing, structure or related terms were off the mark.

8. INTEGRITY MATTERS
To get hired, managers must demonstrate depth and consistency in team and track records. Why? Performance rarely holds up without a solid infrastructure behind it. Thirty-six months is a minimum in most cases, and that presumes everything is in place, including that the firm has a viable team, there has been no turnover and the track record shows consistent application of the process. Institutions want to see transparency, honesty and consistency along the way.

9. KEEP IT INTERESTING
Content and conversation must follow through on key messaging from beginning to end. Whatever the firm's core messaging is, it is critical to demonstrate it through examples. Defining a manager is what makes them investable by institutions over time. It is also exactly what makes the process take so long. Find unique ways to show the firm's value. Tossing out monthly or quarterly numbers is not a demonstration of the value.

10. GOOD KARMA COUNTS
Managers must come to the table and engage prospects. As the process is long and tedious, frustration is the norm among investment managers seeking asset growth. Whether they have recently launched or have been at it for years, they should have an orphaned strategy or a brand-new idea.

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