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Preparing for the step change: What are the opportunities for Asset Management firms in an increasingly D2C space?

Preparing for the step change: What are the opportunities for Asset Management firms in an increasingly D2C space?

By Alex Wilson, Founder, Dog Digital

Asset Management (AM) firms are having to consider the end investor in a way that they previously haven’t.

Historically, there was little need to consider the end investor in digital experience planning as the AM firms had limited, if any, contact with them. The relationships they needed to serve and cultivate were with intermediaries, institutions and B2B clients. Equally, digital experience was historically inward focused – it was about the business and the funds they managed, with a helping of branding thrown in.

The model is now changing drastically. Investor behaviours and the resulting regulatory change are forcing a shift in focus towards what end investors need and want in terms of interaction and relationship from the AM firm. The demand for self-direction alongside the drive to make financial planning and management more accessible and fair means asset managers now need to help end investors make informed choices. This creates an industry responsibility to protect consumers from exposure to risks, therefore adapting communications and service strategies is critical.

Communication and content must be relevant to the end investor and delivered in a way that makes sense to them as they navigate a website, as well as communicating clearly with IFAs, corporates, organisations and those stakeholders with more expert knowledge.

The rise of new investors

The past year has seen a sharp rise in new investors taking control of their investment decisions. In fact, about 400,000 new investors signed up to investment platforms in 2020. While this is predominantly impacting the  platform websites themselves, AM firms must take notice of this shift too and adapt to the confluence of circumstances that are pushing end investor participation in the markets.

Communication is key. But while AM firms can adapt comms to fit new audiences, their websites aren’t geared towards the types of journeys required to serve end investors. What’s more, while they may have business personas that identify these end investors, web structures haven’t been set up to cater for these from a consumer perspective. Understanding the lifecycle of these customers and how they would navigate through the website becomes paramount as a result. To do so, AM firms need the correct data sets and connected view if they’re to influence those journeys.

Internal systems challenges

Measuring the value of those journeys and behaviours is important to understand and measure the stages of interaction.

Traditionally measurement focuses on ROI, the final conversion. And that’s a one-time value. But now AM firms are moving beyond simple funnels. They’re looking at how they can understand a person based on their website experience, so that we can then push them into a funnel. It’s the equivalent of taking a long-term brand-building approach to web experience, over shorter-term performance marketing. The emphasis is on understanding how customers perceive and interact with an AM brand over the long term and why. Then the key is working on adding value at each stage of that journey, as well as reaffirming that value post purchase.

What’s critical now, is measuring the key pieces of interaction happening within those journeys, and placing value on those interactions as demonstrations of commitment or interest. This means AM firms can start to understand the structure and architecture of what content is fit for purpose to influence customers to go through specific journeys.

Brands often build websites around client or customer needs. But the way websites are structured means that they’re not able to drill down into the behaviours and determine at what point the visitor is demonstrating a sufficient commitment or interest in a certain area to enable them to personalise.

Data feeding into personalisation strategies

Before personalization, robust journey planning and measurement should lead to optimisation of experience. This way, AM firms can use measurement as a way of improving marketing efficiencies, thereby improving those interactions to influence specific outcomes on their websites. Once they have the measurement and key journey planning nailed, they can then develop a personalisation strategy to tailor the digital experience to specific customer segments.

Based on data measuring historic and real-time behaviours and expressions of interest, AM firms can start marrying business and marketing personas to website personas. They can truly understand which bits of content, messaging or information will trigger action or interaction, and tailor people’s experience accordingly.

Conclusion

The asset management industry is entering a step-change. Moving towards an increasingly D2C model, AM firms must start to focus website experience on specific customer journeys to be able to communicate with and serve end investors in addition to institutions or advisors. By focusing on meeting customer expectations and needs across connected journeys, brands can focus on building trust across those journeys with purposeful content and interactions.

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