For many years dazzling fund manager personalities have been the figureheads of asset managers for years. But the species of star fund managers dies for several reasons. That’s why asset managers need new communication approaches to remain visible.
One of them led one of the largest German fund companies during the day and took to the strings in the evening to bring his band evergreens of the 50s and 60s to the public in front of an audience (by the way, he still does today). Another one with white suits and a Mephistophelischem smile became the investment icon of the emerging markets and continues to hold on to it to this day. Another collects paintings worth millions in his office, such as those by Andy Warhol, and has his customer events rocked by the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed or Jamie Cullum. Then there was one who had earned a doctorate in art history before devoting himself to corporate analysis and portfolio management. And there was, for example, a young mineralogist who was sweating in the dust of precious metal mines in Africa, Latin America and Australia for investment ideas.
Dazzling personalities are unique selling points
Such life histories of fund managers are unbeatable for putting asset managers in the right light in the context of communication work. They help to stand out from the crowd of thousands of portfolio managers and hundreds of fund companies. Journalists like to tell them on – prominently placed, large-format and colorfully illustrated. It is also pleasing that sometimes even more subdued portfolio performance can be forgotten. Because the personal story remains good, even if the performance is bad. I admit that I, too, could not shy away from the fascination of dazzling fund manager personalities while working as a financial and business journalist. As you can see, they are still in my memory until today.
But the asset management industry is changing. Star fund managers are dying out for three main reasons: First, because legacy legends retire and divide their succession across multiple shoulders. The successors sometimes lack the creative, entrepreneurial thinking of the founders. Secondly, because asset managers are increasingly emphasizing team approaches – also to prevent the departure of prominent figureheads in the wake of increasingly fierce competition for talent. And third, in the course of digitization: quantum strategies, algorithms, artificial intelligence, classical and listed index funds are on the rise – and do without charismatic fund managers as the driving force. On the contrary, they often boast about possible shortcomings of human choices. This is how investment should become even more efficient.
It threatens the me-too effect
This is regrettable from a communication point of view – and even dangerous from a sales point of view! The pioneers of digitization in asset management once again score with great personal stories: the former racing analyst of the Formula One stable McLaren-Mercedes, who now manages the data analysis of a fund company and thus secures information advantages for investment decisions? Grandiose story that catches journalists and (potential) customers alike! Just like former NASA or NSA employees who are now analyzing asset manager data. But the more providers rely on digitization and the more active managers take a back seat, the more random the stories become. It threatens the me-too effect! Faceless providers run the risk of becoming one of many in the ever-widening mass. (Potential) customers are then no longer even aware of products with top performances, the way to the short lists of fund selectors is blocked.
How can PR and communication in the wider sense offer a way out of this situation? When personal anecdotes no longer make the difference, original topics, relevant messages, and matching numbers, data, and facts to support them become even more important. Understand this as an opportunity to convey your company with all its facets!
The basic requirement to take advantage of this opportunity: First, be clear about what your company can credibly embody and how it should appear in the media. As a thought leader in the industry? As a market expert? As customer understanding and solution provider? Or both? The external view from independent experts helps to identify unique selling points and starting points for communication. Again and again, daily contacts with them cloud their view of exciting stories.
A good PR strategy is based on several pillars
The more pillars support your PR and communication strategy, the more stable and crisis-proof the strategy is. If, for example, the performance of the solutions offered weakens, or if the market segments in which your company has expertise are under pressure and therefore less in demand among the media and investors, it is possible to focus on market and product-independent ideas for thought-provoking topics. So you always stay visible and in conversation. For prominent media coverage is one of the best starting points for sales discussions – independent and trustworthy.
The question: “How do I get into the media,” as it appears in our counseling sessions again and again right at the beginning, becomes relevant in the second step. Fortunately, you do not have to answer them yourself, but you can put them in the hands of experienced communication experts. So you have time to focus on your core competencies – portfolio management, customer contact and expanding your business.