Client Interaction Models Have Changed. Is Your Distribution Architecture an Enabler or Inhibitor?


Accelerated by the pandemic, the way your clients and intermediaries wish to interact, partner, and buy has digitally changed.  Asset Managers have responded by re-imagining their organizational selling models.  The evolving external, internal, hybrid wholesaler strategy is a prime example.  It is imperative that the Asset Manager’s distribution architecture – the underlying technology, data, and analytics – helps to fuel that change.  To do so, our industry needs to overcome its historical ROI challenges when it comes to its distribution architecture spend.  

Survey results from the Sales & Marketing Enablement (SME) Forum Virtual Conference held in May highlight the challenges.  100% of responding Asset Managers said that either a solution implementation did not meet ROI expectations or they did not even measure ROI.  Siloed, narrow investing and underlying data issues are often prime culprits behind this muted ROI.  The industry can do better, approaches should change, and outcomes must improve.  Some tips: 

  1. Establish clearly articulated objectives.  82% of survey respondents have entered into a technology project without a clear strategy, negatively impacting results.  Come on now.  We recommend taking a business capabilities approach in order to establish clearly prioritized goals.  Asking the question “What do we need to be great at?” will help you gain a solid understanding of desired outcomes and tangible benefits from the business (not systems) project.  
  2. Staff for success.  Executive support is essential to manage cross-firm expectations and overcome stakeholder pushback, and a well-represented Steering Committee will help navigate the inevitable challenges of a transformative project.  Your project team, inclusive of internal SMEs and, ideally, with the vendor’s A team, must ask the right questions, think beyond the current state, and align product features with your goals.  Motherhood and apple pie, maybe, but often at least partially overlooked.    
  3. Be Ready.  Ensure data readiness and business readiness. 
  • More often than not, the potholes and sometimes sinkholes that your projects hit are due to data issues – be it availability, quality, or accessibility.  We have found that these do not need to be fully remediated before business value is tackled, but understanding them will allow you to appropriately plan for strategic and tactical data preparedness.   
  • Establish a plan for change at the outset, a plan to drive adoption through early user inclusion, creative training techniques like using video vignettes, and cultivating champions and evangelists.  Also, ensure you have planned for ownership to drive ongoing value delivery, and for self-sufficiency to reduce dependence on the vendor. 

Business models are changing.  The Asset Manager’s digital selling, marketing, and servicing capabilities must be a differentiator.  The industry’s margin pressures have left little margin for error on the buildout of your Distribution architecture and platform.  Let’s close with some good news:  at the SME Forum event, Asset Managers surveyed said that properly implemented sales enablement technologies broke down their internal silos and delivered broad value.   

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