A new analysis from Cerulli Associates suggests “strategic
top-down branding” and careful control of the client experience are well worth
the effort (and expense) for financial services firms.
Scott Smith, director at Cerulli, explains that firms involved in investment management, advice and recordkeeping place very different values on strategic branding activities. Many firms are understandably hesitant to push resources into branding/marketing initiatives designed more with long-term benefits in mind than short-term balance sheet performance. But in a highly competitive investment services
marketplace, such efforts will be increasingly important to attracting and maintaining customers, Cerulli asserts.
According to the analysis, investors are often unclear about
the relative objective merits of one firm versus another, “which makes it important for
providers to offer easy-to-understand overviews of their various engagement
levels to make it easier for prospective investors to seek out options that are
of greatest relevance to them.”
Important to consider, clients are much more likely to stay with a firm than to
switch, even when they are not highly satisfied with the service, says Smith. “Firms
seeking to increase market-share should focus on marketing and service
campaigns that make new transitions as pleasant as possible,” he says.
And of course, creating and maintaining a trustworthy
brand experience is tantamount to long-term success.
“Consumers do not have the time to spend comparing various
investment options,” Smith adds. “Instead, people are far more likely to take a
path of less resistance by seeking out recommendations from trusted sources or
choosing firms whose brand they have become comfortable with over time.”
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