The majority of the largest asset managers worldwide faced a second consecutive year of declining interest in their corporate brands, according to Peregrine Communications’ second annual Global 100 report into the integrated marketing communications (IMC) performance of the asset management industry.The report found that nearly six out of ten (58 per cent) of the world’s largest asset managers saw no improvement or an outright decline in organic Google search volumes for their brands during the research period. In 2019, a similar proportion (61 per cent) also suffered the same phenomenon, showing that this is part of a longer-term trend and is not purely driven by Covid-19. US firms that lead the way included 16 of the top 20 managers by AUM and 15 of the top 20 firms ranked by IMC scores.
It is notable, despite the urgent need to move communications online and be agile in response to Covid-19, that many firms have dialled back their digital activity. Average LinkedIn engagement, for example, has declined significantly, standing at only 26 per cent of last year’s average.
“In last year’s Global 100, we laid out our case that the cosy era of easy asset accumulation was drawing to a close for the asset management industry. We could hardly have known, of course, that just a few months later we would witness some of the most disruptive events in living memory which would force managers to accelerate their digital efforts and find new ways to communicate. Worryingly though, the evidence suggests that many firms may be suffering from ‘Covid Content Overload’ as well as ‘Zoom fatigue’. As online meetings have replaced in-person ones, average digital engagement has fallen off a cliff,” says Anthony Payne, CEO of Peregrine Communications.
“Also, as with our research last year, we continue to find a worrying number of firms whose brand awareness is stagnant or declining and for whom 2020 has been yet another reminder of the vital importance of revitalising brands and corporate stories within a defined IMC strategy. We hope that clients and the wider industry will find our research and competitor comparison tool useful as they head into their 2021 planning seasons, particularly ahead of what looks like yet another challenging year.”
Collating over 12,000 data points across firms’ core IMC activities, the report weighs, scores and ranks each firm against their industry peers, through 10 key metrics: Brand Awareness, Brand Momentum, Share of Voice, Media Sentiment, Google Page 1, Social Media, SEO, Paid Search, Paid Media, and Website Effectiveness.
The report extends well beyond merely ranking firms against their core strategic communications and marketing activities. It is also intended to provide firms with a map of where they are currently, and to help them benchmark against their peers. In addition, the report is intended to provide a window into asset management industry trends, while highlighting the most useful case studies and emerging best practices.
Fidelity Investments replaced Blackrock (3rd) at the top of the IMC ranking this year, with Vanguard Asset Management in 2nd and Invesco and T. Rowe Price completing the top five. Despite the negative trend overall, 19 of the top 20 ‘outperformers (those who punch well above AUM weight in terms of their reach and engagement) grew AUM over the year. Robeco was the strongest outperformer this year, closely followed by Baillie Gifford & Co, BMO Global Asset Management, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Lord, Abbett & Co.
“The impact of the pandemic has created a renewed and increased pressure on managers to articulate clear culture, leadership and social purpose. Clearly, given the events of the past year, the ability to explain your firm’s mission and the impact this has on your social purpose is becoming increasingly essential. The alarming data showing that this is the second year in a row of stagnating brand awareness levels for asset managers spotlights that this is a vital focus for asset managers as they enter the 2021 planning season,” says Max Hilton, Managing Director, Peregrine Communications.