05 March 2020Evie Owen

Asset ManagementAsset ManagementEngagementESGPension

The way in which asset managers communicate with clients is evolving due to digitalisation, an increased demand for transparency, and ESG products.

Why should you engage with your clients and why now?

  • The way in which asset managers communicate with clients is evolving due to digitalisation, and increased demand for transparency, and ESG products.
  • Investors are looking for an experience not just products.
  • The intermediary model is often an obstacle for asset managers seeking to develop a relationship with their end customers.

 Clear communication and transparency are key:

  •  ESG products can be viewed as a way to engage with a younger audience.
  •  It is becoming increasingly more important for fund managers to directly engage with their end customers.
  • How this engagement should look is embraced in different ways as businesses implement technological innovations, launch new products and embark on an ESG journey.
  • There is also an ongoing debate around the importance of solutions rather than a product-focused approach to meeting clients’ needs.

Engagement trends:

  • Our expert counselled that fund managers should be transparent when communicating with their clients.
  • However, it is equally important that the information clients can access is easy for them to understand.
  • One of the participants noted that most of the communication channels are focused on retail clients and that it is important to ensure institutional clients are not overlooked.

The role of intermediary:

  • The discussion started with an analysis of the intermediary model and the obstacle it poses for fund managers to build relationships with end clients and promote their brands.
  • One participant argued that advisers want to own the relationship with end investors, to ensure asset managers are left out of the equation and not to pose an additional threat.
  • Other participants agreed with that view and added that this is why the materials fund managers give to their intermediary clients needs to be very clear, so that it can be easily passed on to end investors. This is how fund managers can control how their story is being told - to ensure the narrative is consistent with their brand, values and what they want to sell.

Clients should know enough to be able to act:

  • One participant argued that it is important to empower the end client so that they understand their pensions savings and how to manage their investments appropriately. Clients should know enough to be able to act.
  • Another participant pointed out that at the moment, there is too much information out there which causes confusion for clients.

What clients really want:

  • The discussion then moved on to a debate around how to sell a product and a communications piece to deliver a superior experience to clients. The expert highlighted that asset managers do not have to jump over an adviser but can help them give the right experience to their end investors.
  • One participant felt that what clients really want is for their investments to deliver good returns. They want this information communicated in a straightforward way and do not really pay too much attention to anything else.
  • To build on the point of effective engagement and delivering outstanding experience, one participant debated the idea of apps and that there are concerns around how the older generation responds to them.
  • Some participants argued that it’s not always easy to engage with clients through digital channels.
  • Is ESG the way for fund managers to engage with younger generations? Participants agreed that the industry is on a journey and it is important to prove to new clients that asset managers are accountable when it comes to ESG, and that customers should be able to easily access information about where their money is invested. Performance is important but there are also other factors that need to be considered and addressed.

 The last point of the debate was focused on the language asset managers use:

  • Participants stressed that there are so many different channels through which asset managers communicate a lot of information, clients have to navigate this somehow and so it is even more important to ensure that what they receive is easy to understand and action if necessary.
  • It is not just about providing information but also about accountability.
  • When choosing the most effective channel, the group agreed it depended on the audience. Are you communicating direct or via intermediary? What topic are you commenting on? Knowing what language and channel to use helps create a two-way communication which is very important and what the participants want.
  • At the end of the discussion participants agreed that they are not necessarily satisfied with the way they engage with their clients at the moment. Our expert reiterated the message that it is important to communicate your experience as your brand is often more important than your product.


  • Engagement is not just about communicating products, but also brand and values. It is about selling an experience.
  • The right channel and way of communicating / language depends on the target audience.
  • Providing the right materials to advisers and working with them, rather than competing with them, helps improve client engagement between fund managers and end investors.
  • ESG and digitalisation are helpful in engaging with younger audiences