It’s about 4 weeks into the new year which means everyone is in full hustle mode, laser focused on their new year’s resolutions and goals for 2019. The start of the new year can be an exciting time fueled by desire for change and improvement.
Perhaps it’s the start of a new initiative or simply a goal for improving a tedious process. You may even aspire to tackle something bigger like implementing a new strategy or taking on an educational opportunity to further your career. Whatever your goals maybe for 2019, the way that we, the individuals who make up the Investor Relations community, continuously look for ways to achieve better results for ourselves and firms have the power to shape the future of Investor Relations at asset management firms everywhere.
Last year, as part of our annual Investor Relations Survey we polled the IR community at hedge funds, private equity and traditional asset management firms all over the world on a variety of topics affecting their profession everyday. One of the concluding sets of survey questions focuses on the growth and improvement of Investor Relations and the respondents’ predictions for its evolution. While no one can truly predict the future, many of the respondents pointed to their own firms' initiatives for improving investor satisfaction and process as strong indications for the future.
The vast majority of respondents shared their belief that the investor relations role will continue to be heavily influenced by advances in technology. Suggesting specifically that specialized software, designed for the asset management industry and the needs of investor relations teams, will improve, especially as related to automation and machine learning. Many believe these ever-evolving software tools will help larger investor relations teams support the increasingly higher touch investor service required by institutional investors.
As the expectation for more frequent information continues to escalate, teams will need to stay agile and swiftly evolve to meet those demands. Several respondents indicated they think there will be a shift towards more client segmentation to satisfy the needs of different types of investors. In fact, just under 20% of respondents have actually put this into practice and began exploring offering different levels of service to clients.
Perhaps the most widely used technologies in investor relations to help manage higher touch investor relations - aside from email and the telephone - are CRMs and web portals.
While 10% of respondents mentioned they use a generic CRM product, the majority of managers are leveraging industry-specific platforms, like Clienteer. Some respondents believe asset managers will increasingly adopt industry-tailored platforms that will allow IR teams to streamline many important processes such as distributing account and fund level reporting, and monitor subscriptions and redemptions transaction histories by utilizing balance and transaction import tools that are configured to datasets provided by fund administrators.
What’s more, respondents indicated their expectations for improvements and feature enhancements to industry-specific CRMs to help them leverage automation, AI, and machine learning for more optimized processes. Many respondents also use an investor portal to communicate with their clients. Several firms leverage the portals offered by their fund administrator or other generic document sharing platforms to share information with their clients. Other managers use branded portals that enable investor relations teams to push prospective and current investors to an extension of their website where they can securely consume information like performance numbers and various reports. Some respondents mentioned they have started to take this a step further by posting videos and market commentary for their clients and prospects to access.
Respondents suspect that investor relations teams will begin to increasingly diversify the type of content they make available to prospects and investors in an effort to segment their client base, delivering more thoughtful communication and service levels. Perhaps more importantly, some also argue that using their own branded web-portal helps them to control messaging and sell the value of their brand more effectively. For many respondents the importance of a firm's brand and messaging will intensify in the next three to five years as the market continues to tighten.
One thing investor relations teams would like to see change is the quantity and quality of investor relations related education and best practices sharing programs. What’s more, although investor relations teams appreciate other popular resources such as access to prime brokerage consulting and capital introduction groups, as well as industry-focused reports, they wish there were more materials and support groups for them. Specifically, respondents suggested they would benefit from having access to more focused seminars or conferences focused on the process of actually running investor relations teams and dealing with clients. It is safe to assume that the investor relations community is ready for an infusion of additional resources.
Overall, IR professionals envision a future with more innovative technology and meaningful resources arming them with strategies and tactics for delivering tailored communication and service and elevating overall investor satisfaction. What will actually make these predictions come to fruition? The men and women in the IR community who strategically go beyond the status quo experimenting with new ideas to improve their investor servicing tact.
We look forward to hearing about the IR community's goal crushing success stories in our next investor relations survey! If you want to be a part of the industry's only survey dedicated Investor Relations and Fund Marketing at asset management firms, sign up to participate in this year's survey.