Looking Back: Public Perceptions and the Evolution of the Investment Industry

by on Oct 26, 2017

The investing industry has changed significantly since Corporate Insight launched 25 years ago, and many factors—from the tech bubble in 2000 to the 2003 mutual fund scandal and the 2008 financial crisis—have deeply impacted perceptions of the finance industry landscape. Not only has public perception changed over the years, but so has the average investor. Generational wealth transfer will migrate a large sum of money into the hands of younger investors, and the career-earning potential for women is persistently rising.

J.P. Morgan Let’s Solve It Promotion

The shifting landscape inspires many asset managers to reshape their marketing and branding efforts. At the crux of many recent rebrands and marketing campaigns is the common goal of appealing to a wider range of investors. For example, J.P. Morgan’s Let’s Solve It campaign emphasizes the collaborative nature of the advisor-investor relationship. The campaign positions J.P. Morgan as source for all types of investors and specifies that the firm builds portfolios to solve real client needs.

Another firm echoing this sentiment is American Funds, which recently launched a new set of Model Portfolios for Every Investor. J.P. Morgan and American Funds use inclusionary messaging in their marketing efforts to place a focus on how they can help investors with differing goals and objectives. Across the spectrum of financial services, instances of this type of messaging appear to be on the rise.

American Funds Model Portfolios Promotion

Companies are attempting to shed decades-long perceptions in order to appear more approachable. In 2016, TIAA-CREF rebranded as TIAA and completely reconceived its corporate mission. According to a press release, the firm wanted to usher in a new mindset that attempts to make investing simpler and less intimidating. Part of TIAA’s revamp includes the Customer Stories series, which profiles how the firm has helped a diverse range of clients. Other firms promoting client stories include Vanguard and Fidelity. Conveying a customer-first ethic is now an aspiration for many brands. For example, Voya’s corporate site highlights four strategic business objectives, the first of which is to “become more customer-centric.”

TIAA Customer Stories Page

Voya Strategic Objectives List

Hartford Funds began reshaping its image in March 2015 when it began operating a under a new mantra: “human-centric investing.” As part of the rebrand, the firm tweaked its logo to include the tagline, “Our benchmark is the investor.” Since then, Hartford Funds has also ushered in a revamped website and a suite of content addressing the diverse needs of investors. Insights supporting the human-centric investing framework appear on a dedicated site and in a podcast series.

Hartford Funds Human-Centric Investing Sitelet and Updated Logo

Aside from brand overhauls, various other factors influence the future of the investing industry. For example, many asset managers are increasingly releasing new investment vehicles, namely in the form of ETFs and socially responsible products. It is highly likely that robo advisors and automation will also play a critical role in the future of the investing industry.

Firms are riding the tides of change at different paces, and Corporate Insight will continue to monitor their progress. To celebrate our firm’s 25th year milestone we are taking a look back at the evolution of the financial services industry through a series of slide decks examining four topics: communication and customer service, trading methods, website design and account security. The first installment of the series—Communication Is Key—is available now.

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