As an asset manager, you may likely derive 80% to 90% of your sales from just a few key national accounts, and managing these accounts is therefore critically important. Asset managers rely heavily on the distribution efforts of their key accounts, so in order to grow assets under management (AUM), your national accounts team must effectively serve the gatekeepers of your client’s platforms.
It’s no secret that key account people evaluate their relationship with you on a continuous basis, and many are reducing the number of asset managers on their platforms. In addition, distributors may be demanding more support in the areas of investor education, risk management, and governance.
The data you provide is used to analyze the profitability of your product offerings and the demand for your products in the marketplace.
Timely and accurate data is a tool that asset managers can use to build key account relationships and compete for new business, and data helps you provide more value to your customers. Consider these approaches for using data to serve your most important accounts:
1. Be a Strategic Business Partner
Recent market volatility may have tested the resilience of your key account products and models. Your customers need you to be a powerful source of information. You can differentiate from the competition by becoming a strategic business partner.
Providing a strategic partner role for your key accounts requires you to provide a level of information that is more in-depth than simply investment performance. If a client wants your input on developing a new product or changing the marketing direction of a particular fund, for example, you need to provide useful data to help make an informed decision.
Assume, for example, that you provide performance data that explains the impact of market volatility on a particular asset class. Your in-depth analysis reveals that volatility is less of a factor on the asset class than previously thought, which supports your client’s decision to change the marketing direction of a fund they distribute.
As an asset manager, you may be under pressure to reduce your revenue sharing arrangements with fund distributors, in order to have your products on a distributor’s platform. Adding value as a strategic partner can help you maintain profitability with your key accounts.
2. Support Model-Based Portfolios
Broker dealers and RIAs are putting a bigger emphasis on model-based investing, and this change in approach requires asset managers to shift resources to the home office. The growth in model-based investing means that your clients will increase the number of analysts and product development experts on staff, and your firm must address this change in approach.
According to an Ernst & Young U.S. fund distribution report, “By moving up the value chain and rolling out such services as research, model portfolios manufactured through cost-effective ETFs, structured customized solutions and financial planning, distributors can fully leverage their ownership of the client relationship.” 1
Your firm must meet the diverse needs of your client’s growing staff of researchers and analysts. Your systems must be able to quickly collect and distribute data for home office marketers, as well as portfolio managers and industry-specific analysts.
As an example, your national accounts team can meet with the key account analysts to determine the financial metrics that they find most relevant and design a reporting format to meet their specific needs.
3. Provide Analysis to Research Teams
In a 2018 Investment Management Outlook report, Deloitte explained that investment management firms “are expected to face margin compression as investors favor low-cost investment solutions, while at the same time the case for alpha may be difficult to make for many IM firms.” 2
Researchers and analysts need comparative data—and analysis—on your fund fees, expenses, trading cost, and performance metrics in order to make the case for alpha. Your data systems and analysis must be able to meet that client need.
Your firm should also discuss each type of report you generate for your key account’s researchers and analysts and determine the reports that are not useful for your customer. If you can eliminate unneeded reports, both you and the client will save time and money. Keep the focus on data that matters.
4. Manage Consultant Relationships
Consultants are “increasingly offering services that are highly overlapping and similar to asset managers”, said Ernst & Young.1 Consultants may be helping your key accounts with portfolio construction, asset allocation, and due diligence work.
To maintain your relationship with key accounts, your national accounts team must coordinate with consultant relationship teams. Both must provide accurate data in order to deliver a consistent message to both consultants and key account staff.
Your national accounts team and consultant relationship teams should meet frequently to discuss the priorities for your key accounts and rank those priorities so that both parties are served effectively. If, for example, consultants view benchmarking data as a top priority, the consultant may need more frequent information on your benchmark performance data than your client needs.
5. Provide More Resources to Key Accounts
Your firm’s revenue growth may be driven by a small number of key account relationships, and you need to equip your national accounts team to support key accounts. That support may require you to increase or move a variety of resources to your national accounts team. These additional resources can help you address a diverse set of key account needs.
As discussed above, a larger staff of analysts and product development experts can assist with model-based portfolios, and your research team can provide reports for performance evaluation.
Many distributors want the ability to drive new sales with data-driven marketing campaigns, and your national account team must be able to support that effort. Data can help clearly understand the needs of your key account team, and offer solutions tailored to the needs of the home office, including specific marketing expertise.
Asset managers must provide resources to areas that provide the largest potential for revenue growth, and providing useful data is a valuable resource.
SalesFocus Solutions, founded in 1999 and based in San Rafael, California, provides the MARS suite of products and services to the asset management industry as an all-in-one sales and marketing solution for actionable intelligence. MARS (Marketing And Reporting Sales) aggregates data from multiple and diverse sources, and provides data visualization, report writing, and market intelligence capability. We have a diverse, global client base of leading and boutique asset management firms. As of September 30, 2018, MARS served clients with more than $3 trillion in assets under management.