Let’s start by taking a closer look at what a financial intermediary and, in particular, an asset management company does.
Asset management companies: roles and functions
In Italy, asset management companies are a type of financial intermediary.
Consob defines a financial intermediary as an institution that connects individuals with a financial surplus, in other words, savings, with enterprises who can turn it into productive investments.
In other words, a financial intermediary shifts resources from those who have a certain tolerance for risk to those who, on the other hand, need access to short-term financing. These deficit units are mainly companies and Public Administrations, which for various reasons issue financial instruments that are purchased by financial intermediaries.
There are many different types of financial intermediaries, depending on the activity and services performed or the legal requirements to be recognized as such.
From this point of view, asset management companies have a very special feature: they are the only financial intermediaries that can carry out the activity of collective and individual asset management.
In addition to this, asset management companies are authorized to carry out a whole range of other activities, including providing:
- portfolio management services
- investment advice
- receiving and transmitting orders, if authorised to provide the service of managing alternative investment funds (AIFs).
Precisely because of the sensitivity of these functions, the TUF (Testo Unico della Finanza), or the Consolidated Finance Act, establishes that the Bank of Italy authorizes asset management companies only if it verifies the existence of certain requirements relating to the financial health of the company, and the professionalism of its directors, auditors, the general manager, and shareholders.
This ensures that the management of assets is carried out by qualified persons. In order to protect the consumer, specific and stringent rules of conduct have also been identified.
In particular, according to the Consolidated Finance Act and Consob Regulation no. 16190/2010, asset management companies must:
- operate with diligence, fairness and transparency in the interests of fund participants
- organize themselves in such a way as to minimize the risk of conflicts of interest
- adopt appropriate measures to safeguard the rights of participants in the funds
This is all the more understandable when you consider that the relationship between a financial intermediary and the individual, but also between the intermediary and those who will receive the funding, is based on trust.
Savers, in fact, trust that the company will be able to process a large amount of information, order it and update it, so as to identify the worthy and profitable investments.
Financial marketing: a social strategy
Asset management companies need to stay on social networks or at least integrate them into a marketing strategy.
In 2016, PwC carried out an interesting study on the social media presence, finding that financial services companies, on the whole, have been slow to get involved. Over time, companies have shown an interest, albeit a cautious one. Many fear exposing themselves to criticism or negative opinions from dissatisfied customers.
On the contrary, social networks can’t be just a “nice to have” or implemented in a haphazard way—this could have a very negative impact on brand reputation. Instead, it is necessary to use these tools in a very intentional way so as to create clear and recognizable communication.
This means, among other things, to stop considering the social networks of places where the contents are always approximate and not authoritative. In other words, companies have to take social networks seriously,
Just think—even the Pope and country presidents are using social networks to communicate, and many institutions and public administrations have a profile on one or more of these platforms.
And this is just part of the equation; digital communication is much, much more. It is therefore necessary to have a dedicated team of people who can take advantage of the specifics of each of these channels. Asset management companies will need to differentiate how they use each channel.
Twitter, for example, can be useful for speaking directly with the various media and for issuing immediate communications on things that impact the company.
LinkedIn is perfect for providing various types of content to an audience of experts in the field. Here, you can share infographics, videos, whitepapers, or even download e-books. These are all ways to collect information from users and, at the same time, build your reputation and authority on relevant issues, which can become a reference point for those who want to stay up to date.
Finally, Facebook is the ideal social platform to spread a variety of B2C content that can be designed with a wider audience in mind.
Ultimately, the important thing to know is that there are no right or wrong social networks; it’s about finding the one(s) that best suit your needs and to be able to harness it in an effective and recognizable way.
Educate your savers
One way to do this is to not to restrict the scope of discussion to only the topic of savings. The keyword here is “discussion,” because today’s audience is no longer passive. Digital media is not like TV or radio, and that’s why you’ll want to establish an ongoing dialog where customers are listened to and where they feel free to share their needs and requirements.
Only in this way can we be sure of capturing their attention, which must then be redirected to the themes of the products offered and linked to savings.
In addition, social networks are always a perfect way to increase the average literacy of savers regarding financial issues so that they can become more involved in the management and decision-making processes behind the investments.
Those who have already done so and are collecting interesting results are the asset management company AcomeA SGR S.p.A. Their blog, “Risparmiamocelo” (Let’s save), provides users with useful content to help them find their way around the asset management sector so that they do not feel at the mercy of operators.
Another example is EticAdemy, which provides training to consultants and placement agents. This project also incorporates an e-learning platform that is fully integrated with the social media marketing strategy. In this way, the company has used digital tools to provide a service to users and to present its products in an original and relevant way: which is what every customer expects.
Content is king
From this emerges another important practice that all asset management companies must follow: adopt a content marketing strategy. A content marketing strategy is an important lever that all intermediaries can use to build a solid and lasting relationship of trust with customers. This approach may incorporate many different actions.
For example, you could get involved events taking place in the areas where you’re located. Intesa Sanpaolo Private Banking has organized a series of evenings and exclusive events aimed at connecting customers and intermediaries and to create or strengthen a relationship of trust.
Copernico Sim also organizes “financial aperitifs,” which are micro conferences of 15-20 people that can be used to introduce and explain financial instruments in order to inform investors or to make them aware of advantages or new regulations.
This is what private individuals expect from a savings manager: first of all, someone they can trust and rely on to move in a very technical sector.
Another widespread trend among savings management companies is to provide relevant content to different segments of your target audience and enhanced by the use of certain digital channels.
By making the best possible use of digital tools, companies can provide a rich offer of quality B2C content and at the same time create a more conscious relationship, helping to define objectives, clarify options and build a greater understanding of risks and opportunities.
Some tools that are useful in this regard are a company blog that provides information about your products and services as well as information that users will find helpful or a dedicated newsletter to reach savers with relevant and targeted content.
The ideal approach is to combine the two and make them work together. In this way, you can take advantage of a multi-channel approach, which allows you to improve the customer experience of savers and build your profile.
As noted by McKinsey, data is a great resource for tackling digital change even when it comes to managed savings or financial intermediation in general.
The basis of the relationship of trust that we reported at the beginning is based precisely on the quantity and quality that financial intermediaries have at their disposal. And it is precisely through the data that it is possible to face the risks and achieve a transformation that allows financial intermediaries to face the future with peace of mind.
For this reason, everything begins and ends with data, even in the context of a content marketing strategy, which can only start after a careful analysis phase.
After all, it is the analysts themselves who suggest investing in the construction of two closely linked skills: digital marketing and data analysis, since, in the future, 50% of the sector’s profitability will depend on digital marketing and big data analysis. The choice, at this point, is more than a trend but a requirement for firms in the sector.
Find out why Credem chooses personalized videos to communicate with its customers. Learn more, download the case study: