Using Thought Leadership to Connect and Illuminate the Path Forward

July 13, 2021

As the COVID-19 crisis abates in the US, advisors are feeling optimistic and bullish about the future. But for many advisors who made significant adaptations to their business practices over the past year, the future looks different. Advisors expect some of the changes they made to become permanent. In particular, asset managers will need to adapt service models to support hybrid work arrangements, more flexible schedules and varied individual preferences for digital vs. in-person communication.

Asset managers that were able to quickly adapt to these changes and successfully maintain advisor engagement over the past year are a step ahead. For wholesaler engagement, this means keeping up relationships remotely via phone calls and videoconference tools in addition to resuming in-person meetings when desired. Advisors report increased reliance on digital communication channels, so webinars, website visits and emails are all critical touchpoints in order to boost brand consideration.

Over the course of this unprecedented year, advisors have kept many of their existing relationships. An elite group of large asset managers continues to top the leaderboard, including American Funds/Capital Group, Vanguard and BlackRock. American Funds/Capital Group achieves the strongest personal connection with advisors overall, while Vanguard boasts the strongest connection with RIAs.

Meanwhile, thought leadership provides an opportunity for smaller players to drive engagement by offering advisors a unique perspective from a trusted individual. J.P. Morgan, First Trust and ARK all stand out for their thought leadership perspective, with the early success of ARK demonstrating that smaller players that are able to build a reputation for innovative thinking can scale up quickly.

Advisor concerns related to inflation, stock market volatility, political/regulatory changes and rising interest rates are relevant subjects for thought leadership. Firms also have an opportunity to educate advisors and their clients about the benefits of ESG investing, which is growing in popularity, as well as other thematic investment trends where there is an opportunity for smaller, niche players to stand out. Following a year of such uncertainty and isolation, advisors want to make sure they don’t miss out on the next big idea, and asset managers have an opportunity to illuminate the way.

The full Advisor Brandscape report provides a holistic view of the advisor landscape including practice models, product use, brand perceptions and user experience, and is the leading industry benchmark for the nation’s top mutual fund and ETF providers. Click below to learn more.

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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.