Service, website important as advisors choose asset managers

By BenefitsPro

By Andy Stonehouse

Not unlike the decisions consumers use to pick a TV provider or a cell phone service, retirement advisors also look for some standard measures of good service when picking an asset manager.

According to research in the January issue of the U.S. Asset Management edition of the Cerulli Edge, created by the Boston-based research firm, strong and positive client services, a helpful and interactive website and even recognizable branding are all important factors in making the choice of asset manager.

This month's issue pays particular attention to marketing and branding challenges, distribution efforts and some of the aspirations for product development and enhancements in the New Year.

Out of 11 different attributes, the most important factor is strong client service, says Pamela DeBolt, a senior analyst at Cerulli, followed by a recognizable brand and a good website.

"Brand has become increasingly important for advisors and asset managers," she said. "In fact, brand is a firmwide focus for many companies this year. Many experts believe that consistent messaging over a period of a few years is required to make a significant impact on brand awareness."

While a concise brand is a big part of an asset manager's best practices in drawing more advisor interest (and investment), DeBolt's research suggests that manager firms aren't doing enough to keep up.

"Marketing's most significant challenge is a lack of financial commitment to advertising, brand initiatives and website enhancements," she adds.

To help keep advisors squarely in target, Cerulli suggests that asset managers need to become just as creative as the players in the consumer world - think of the impossible-to-forget blossom in branding for the auto insurance industry - and also work on better utilizing some lower-cost options, such as more online advertising.

Two thirds of the asset managers contacted suggested they would be building a stronger online presence in the coming year.

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