Seven Questions Your Data Should Answer

Seven Questions Your Data Should Answer

I recently attended a webinar that was titled “Seven Questions Your Data Should Answer.”   The content of the webinar seemed to really hit home for me so I wanted to share some of information with you.


“Who is buying and selling what product?”

This should be just looking at facts – sounds basic right?  However, given some of the challenges with Omnibus data, ETF products, UCITS, and Managed Accounts it’s amazing how many firms still struggle to understand, at a granular level:  who is selling/buying their products, who their top producers are and how do their product sales stack up against competitors down to the specific firms office/branch and rep levels.  Close enough might work for a game of horseshoes, but not when it comes to an expensive sales and marketing campaign that’s thwarted because of poor data quality and inaccurate contact information. To gain an advantage over competitors you need to know the effectiveness of your marketing outreach down to your flows.


“Where are my flows coming from?”

This is where the WHY comes into play for your firm – WHY have you been successful with certain inflows.  It’s critical for your continued success to know what tactics and activities you’ve employed that have acted as the catalyst for the inflows.   Can you correlate the inflows to certain messaging in your marketing campaigns, did you receive some positive publicity and/or are specific reps responsible for the lion’s share of the inflows.   As important as it is to know the sources of the inflows, it’s equally important to understand which inflows might be at risk so that you can proactively devise a strategy to protect, and perhaps even increase, the inflows which might be at risk.


“What are the various channels doing?”

This is where it starts to get a little more interesting for me.  Historically, firms have always channelized their data – typically by firm types, like Broker Dealers or retirement business.  When a firm has the tools to analyze this data together it provides new insights into channels and to more effectively engage with these sources.  Based on the rise of mega advisor firms and the structure of intermediary teams focus needs to be shifted toward better understanding the behavior of the advisors.  Your sales analytics tools should aid you in looking for actionable patterns.  Do you need to focus more on segmenting the data, similar to how Amazon does, to know how these key sources of inflows, and potential cross-sales, prefer engaging?   Do you need to be more focused on understanding your target advisors and determining their objectives and goals?  By knowing how each of your channels and territories are performing compared to your competitors, you can better tune your messaging, better target your sales and marketing activities, and better focus your firm to more rapidly grow your business.


“What do we know about the markets we are operating in?”

Data is the key.  The more accurate your data the better.  Data quality impacts everything.  The saying is true “garbage in – garbage out”.   Accurate and reliable data is your foundation.  You have to have a very robust data stewardship process.  You have to include logic into your data collection and cleaning process to make sure activities are appropriately being tracked.  For example, Zoom calls may not have the same impact as in person face to face meetings, but may still be necessary.  Are you tracking these engagements the same as an in-person visit?  How are you measuring whether you had a better impact virtually or in person – or whether an advisor would prefer to meet virtually versus in-person?  Your inflow data combined with third-party data packs and marketing intelligence data is critical to improving sales and marketing performance.   Data accuracy and integrity essential to understand how best to approach and increase AUM from your target markets.


“What client engagement strategy has been or is likely to be more effective?”

This starts the predictive review.  What are your engagement strategies and how do you know these strategies are as effective as they can be? You will need to leverage your data and take a critical look at your perception of what client engagement strategy works best versus what the patterns in the data tell you.  It is important to pool your data along with third party data sets like data packs and marketing intelligence data to discern in what situations you’ve been most effective.  When you break this down, you can start to see if clients want to work personally or digitally with you.  Ask yourself, what is the best way to engage?  If you move to digital what does that look like?  Is client facing, digital or a combination of both important?  Many advisors and investors are looking for that instant gratification similar to Amazon.  How will your client engagement strategies address their needs?


“Is a particular product doing well, and more importantly, why?”

This question leads ultimately to product development, distribution and messaging/marketing.  Not only do you need to know which products are selling well and which ones are not, but also what more you can be doing differently to better position your products.  To answer this, you need to understand patterns.  How do you compare to your competitors?  There are so many reasons why advisors will invest in and redeem out of products.  Turning your data into intelligence is necessary to know what more you can be doing to attract advisors to your products and reduce the risk of redemptions.  Analyzing history, trends and activities versus sales can provide you with new insights and give you a competitive advantage.


“What does my long-term strategy look like?”

A question that we hear a lot is, “who will likely buy?”  Take all your answers from the previous questions and ask yourself what are my target markets and what do clients and prospective clients want?  What problems are your target clients trying to solve.  As the advisor landscape changes, we need to be flexible to in working with the advisors to put our own insights into play.   Listening to what your sales and asset data is telling you lets your firm better understand what you’re your clients and prospective clients need in the long term.


In addition to the seven questions your data should answer, there is one more fundamental question that needs to be asked.   You need to ask yourself whether the efforts surrounding data collection and data stewardship are distracting you from your core business purpose and whether these functions can be performed more efficiently and cost-effectively if outsourced.   When trying to determine this you have to think about your business strategy and budget.   Is your business strategy really to support a small army of system technical resources and data cleaners or is your core business better served by outsourcing these functions so that you can better focus on your core business?


Whether you choose to retain the transaction processing and data stewardship functions or outsource them the MARS team has a cost-effective solution for you.   We can provide a fully outsourced data collection, data cleaning, and sales analytics/reporting solution or provide point solutions like complementing your team with our outsourced data stewardship services and/or enhancing your contacts with rep prospecting data or intermediary team buying unit data.  For more information, we have a few white papers on our website ( that you might enjoy reviewing.


by Nicole Callies




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