Half of advisors are saying they will not meet an asset manager sales representative in person under any circumstances, and only 29% say they will only meet remotely, according to recent research conducted by SS&C in association with Horsesmouth.
“This speaks to the importance of understanding the behaviors and preferences, of the different audiences you are supporting, and how distribution is thought of in a fundamentally different way than it has in the past, said Lee Kowarski, VP, Head of Data Science & Distribution Solutions at SS&C Technologies.
Kowarski moderated a session on relationship management during Nicsa’s GMM in October. The panelists, including experts from FS Investments, Invesco, and Wells Fargo Advisors, shared how the industry’s leading firms are reimagining the way they connect with business partners and clients.
The Future is Decidedly Hybrid
To thrive in a post-pandemic environment, Kowarski said firms must embrace a digital-first sales approach with a broad set of strategies tailored to the customer.
“We have different types of advisors who like to interact in different ways, and you can bring so much scale by leveraging virtual spaces,” said Stephanie Meadows, Director, Relationship Management & Advanced FA Education at Wells Fargo Advisors. “Technology is going to be critical.”
Kirsten Pickens, Co-Head of US Distribution at FS Investments, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s going to be a hybrid approach,” she said. “The one thing we can all agree on is that the speed and reach of working virtually — how quickly we can get to our clients and prospects — has been incredible.”
“We’ve been more efficient in virtual environments and, in many cases, more effective, but in doing so, workloads have increased incredibly,” Pickens continued. “That’s why relationships matter — advisors are all so busy, so you have to find an effective delivery method for them.”
Make Events Shine
The panelists reminded attendees that business and pleasure aren’t mutually exclusive.
Clint Harris, Head of Wealth Management Platforms and Global Consulting at Invesco, said his investment management company is transforming about 30% of previously in-person events to virtual ventures. The company’s in-person events will shift toward smaller, regional formats.
“We’re already starting to pilot events where we dial up the experiential element, as well as star power, to make them more engaging,” Harris said. “We’re doing an event in D.C. and bringing former University of Maryland Basketball Coach Gary Williams through our partnership with the NCAA.”
“In the virtual space, our advisors are becoming very comfortable with the star power that Clint referenced,” she said. “It’s been easier to get top keynote speakers; for example, Condoleezza Rice will be the guest speaker for Wells Fargo’s Annual Black/African American Summit. That’s something that we wouldn’t have been able to do in the past, but because of the virtual posture, it’s more affordable and the speakers are more accessible.”
Panelists agreed that the policies backing their businesses will continue to evolve.
“Invesco’s corporate offices are still fairly restricted,” Harris said. “Most of our offices in North America are in the orange phase, which is limited to 25% capacity; some of our overseas offices are in the red, meaning zero capacity; and some are green, meaning full capacity.”
“In terms of our policies and our approach, we do expect all employees to be vaccinated,” he continued. “That is a requirement for us going forward. We haven’t set a date yet, but as we go back to the green phase for our offices and people start coming back in, they will have to be vaccinated.”
In terms of hiring for specific skill sets, Pickens said knowledge in data and analytics is crucial in enabling customization and segmentation.
“From a technology perspective, we have a very large data and analytics team that will feed information to our sales and relationship managers,” she said. “But you have to have a skill set to take that information, process it, and act upon it,” she said.
Note: Although the observations contained in this work represent the best thoughts of the individuals comprising the Nicsa panel, they do not necessarily reflect the views of Nicsa or any of its member organizations. Matters addressed in this work may touch upon legal or regulatory matters, however nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice. You should contact your own counsel in order to obtain legal advice regarding these or any other matters.