Expert thought leadership analysis shows commentaries are a great way for asset management firms to differentiate their brand. The materials serve to establish a firm’s expertise and build trusted relationships with its advisors.

Millennial advisors especially value firm research and insights, with 79% considering the resources to be “very important” or “extremely important.”

These insights also offer a way to connect with the younger generation of advisors joining the ranks of asset management firms: according to Corporate Insight (CI)’s Financial Advisor Survey, Millennial advisors especially value firm research and insights, with 79% considering the resources to be “very important” or “extremely important.”

During unpredictable years such as 2020, thought leadership becomes even more vital as advisors seek guidance in navigating the many ups and downs of volatile markets. In CI’s 2020 Asset Management Monitor – Advisor Commentary Analysis report series, we took a data-centric approach to evaluating the location, presentation and subject matter of commentaries published by coverage set firms over the course of 12 months.

Thought leadership analysis findings

Here, we outline some of the most important trends we discovered in our thought leadership analysis:

  • The impressive number of commentaries published during our 12-month collection period just goes to show the importance of these insights. From October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, coverage set firms published 2,949 pieces of commentary. Most of these were in the form of articles (76%) that were not part of a series (76%). While this standard format works for most commentaries, firms should seek to publish insights using the style that best suits each piece’s content. Over half of firms (63%) do this by employing four or more useful or engaging commentary formats such as videos, podcasts or charts.
  • Some firms published much more frequently than others, with each firm’s total number of commentaries ranging from as little as 43 to as many as 283. Federated Hermes, Invesco and Hartford Funds led the coverage set with the most commentaries published during our review period. As expected, all firms increased their publication frequency in February 2020 to address COVID-19 and its market impact.
Thought Leadership Analysis Commentary Frequency by Firms
      • In terms of theme, most commentaries covered Market Conditions (58%), Products (49%) and Macro Events (48%), and firms addressed around two themes per commentary on average. These top themes saw a particularly big increase in February 2020 and beyond, as macro events such as COVID-19 lockdowns dominated headlines and market conditions consequently fluctuated in response. While the increase in these themes reflected the volatile nature of the pandemic’s first months, it caused firms to underrepresent other important topics such as Practice Management and Life Events that help establish firms as partners to advisors’ personal and professional growth.
Thought Leadership Analysis Commentary Frequency by Themes
  • As pieces of digital media, commentaries should feature engaging design qualities that help differentiate firms from their peers. Around half of firms used visual elements such as stock imagery and graphs to boost engagement in otherwise dense pieces and illustrate important points. Some firms took advantage of the opportunity to improve resource integration using embedded links, which can help maintain advisor engagement and encourage further exploration on the given topic.
  • While the publication of thought leadership is clearly important, housing these resources in an easily findable central location is just as vital to the resources’ usefulness and the digital user experience. Firms should offer a well-organized insight hub, but almost half of firms (42%) neglect to house commentaries in such a location. Asset managers should not only provide a hub page, but they should also enhance these pages using advanced filter and search functionalities to make it easier for advisors to find what they are looking for. Value-added features such as subscription and sharing options also help improve insight hubs by demonstrating firm value and allowing advisors to share insightful pieces.

These trends help uncover some of the ways that asset managers support their advisors through commentary publication and promotion. To hear more about these trends, sign up for our upcoming webinar. Subscribers can view the full thought leadership analysis reports from October 2020 and November 2020 as well as our Financial Advisor Survey on our client portal. Or visit our website for access to Asset Management Monitor – Advisor materials.

Samantha Fritsch

Samantha Fritsch is the Research Manager on CI's asset management team.