Brooks Macdonald is on a journey to enhance its client experience with the help of digital and automation, says its new Global Head of Marketing.
Leanne Barnham says she has spent her first few months familiarising herself with the strategic drivers of the business and how marketing can fit into this. The firm is publicly listed, with £16.8 billion in discretionary funds under management as of 31 March 2023.
Leanne joined the firm from Ninety One earlier this year. Prior to her time at Ninety One she spent 11 years at Architas.
One of Leanne’s major areas of focus is on the firm’s client experience, across all touchpoints.
“One of the strategic value drivers for the organisation is providing exceptional service to clients. That’s really where marketing can provide the differentiator.”
She notes that while product performance is similar across the industry, the quality of service can “move the dial” on whether someone does business with a firm.
Leanne believes strongly that part of the key to doing this, especially at scale across multiple geographies, is in digital transformation and the use of data.
As an industry, she says, investment management is “quite guilty of not really being able to segment data.
“If you look at how you would have an experience in your own personal life, you know you are being targeted with really bespoke content. I don’t think we’ve got there yet, but all the tools are there to enable you to do that.”
Brooks Macdonald is investing heavily in its digital stack, including a Salesforce CRM project which will allow marketing automation to take over onerous manual tasks and free the hands of the marketing team.
The key to better client experiences is not just technology, however – she says it also means building the right relationships and organisational structures.
If the goal is to be as relevant as possible to clients, then the “only way you’re going to understand that is if you know as much about the client as you can gather.”
This means bringing together the knowledge of the sales team, who are “at the coalface dealing with those people you want to learn more about”, with the insights that marketing can derive from it. The automation enabled by the Salesforce project will help to marry these different datasets.
She explains that it is important to align and structure teams in the right way, citing a recent Deloitte roundtable she attended where the point was made that the FMCG sector was shifting from distribution-led and marketing-supported to marketing-led, due to the data and insights marketing can offer.
The goal is to move towards a holistic view of all the client’s interactions with the firm and the points at which marketing can provide support.
She says she is a “big fan of insourcing” functions such as content and design, saying that it enables the firm to respond quickly and proactively when distributing content.
In times of volatility, this approach will allow the firm to keep up regular contact and become the “first port of call” during market events. This consolidation will enable Brooks Macdonald to get regular communications out in the formats that people will find most useful.
“I think we can be quite guilty as an industry of doing a long white paper or thought leadership piece when people are very time-poor and just want snippets of what’s going on in the market.
“How can you get that out really quickly when there’s been a market event – I think that’s where you really start to build credibility and trust.”
Leanne says that brand is “extremely important” in her thinking. She and her team are working on a marketing toolkit to underpin all of this, which will define what Brooks Macdonald is about and what it offers.
“You’ve really got to put yourself in the position of the end client and ask whether you would put your money with somebody that you have never heard of.
“So I think from a brand perspective, it’s extremely important that you’re able to very clearly articulate the value of working with the organisation.”