Advisors Are Charting a New Course

July 8, 2020

Our world was upended in March when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, carrying with it disastrous health and economic consequences. The longest bull market in history came to a jarring halt as advisors sought to manage market volatility and calm their clients’ fears.

As the uncertainty of the crisis wears on, trends that were already underway are now converging at a once unthinkable pace. More of the workforce is now able to work remotely, which is changing the ways in which we communicate. Products are being sold differently, with increasing reliance on hybrid distribution models. Millennial investors are showing the strongest interest in ESG investing of any generation. Companies are taking a stand to be more inclusive and promote diversity among their talent pools.

As the wealth management industry faces this period of historic disruption, an elite group of asset managers is solidifying its positions and setting new standards by which all other firms will be compared. This year’s Advisor Brandscape report, published on June 23, found American Funds/Capital Group, Vanguard and BlackRock earn the strongest brand equity as asset managers, in addition to being the most trusted brands. American Funds is able to draw from a long, established reputation among advisors for exceptional service and achieves best-in-class engagement across both digital and wholesaler touchpoints. BlackRock is best known for innovation, and is becoming better known for ESG investing. Vanguard continues to be favored by RIAs, and has an opportunity to appeal to the younger generation of investors through its retail direct platform.

Relatively smaller players continue to face headwinds in competing against these industry giants. That said, Invesco’s ability to successfully integrate OppenheimerFunds under the unified Invesco brand demonstrates the potential for other mid-sized managers to scale up quickly and compete at the highest level.

Outside of M&A activity, active managers have an opportunity to promote the value of their investment philosophies to outperform benchmarks in the current market environment through thought leadership. Evergreen subjects for client-ready materials including the benefits of staying invested over the long-term are particularly relevant now. Planning for the future, firms that have been primarily focused on advisors managing the largest books of business must be careful not to overlook advisors of the next generation and their relatively younger clients

To learn more about the Advisor Brandscape report, click below.

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Meredith Lloyd Rice
Vice President, Cogent Syndicated

Meredith Lloyd Rice is a vice president in Escalent's Cogent Syndicated division. She manages the firm’s syndicated research products focused on the financial advisor market and is the lead author of the Advisor Brandscape® report. She has more than 15 years of experience managing research initiatives in the wealth management industry and has explored a wide range of business issues on the client and supplier side. Prior to joining Escalent, Meredith was an associate VP at Chatham Partners where she oversaw a team of researchers and managed the overall design, analysis and interpretation of large-scale studies for institutional financial services clients. Meredith earned an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University. She is a former collegiate rower who now gets her exercise chasing after her daughter and Clumber Spaniel.