Pacific Asset Management: How small marketing teams can compete with an Apple mentality

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Smaller marketing teams should adopt a Silicon Valley mentality to compete with bigger players, says the CMO of Pacific Asset Management (PAM).

Simon Lowans, who was recently promoted from Head of Marketing to CMO at the boutique manager, says the firm is taking lessons from the likes of Apple and Tesla to stay agile and competitive.

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In a market dominated by behemoths where consolidation is increasing, PAM positions itself as a determinedly boutique firm. Their investment teams run around £4.2 billion in AUM for clients globally . The key priority recently has been the launch of a new credit fund, which fuses proprietary quantitative research, with very active trading in liquid, high grade credit with the aim to consistently find and exploit bond mis-pricings to generate alpha.

Simon, who brings experience from GAM and Lloyd’s of London, says that this intentional challenger mindset underpins much of his approach to marketing at the firm.

The brand is built around the philosophy of “move forward”, an organisational mentality reflected throughout everything the firm does with investments, clients, culture, innovation and technology.

The approach aims to cut through in a market where it is hard to differentiate on product alone.

“Having a strong brand is so important – not just the visuals, but what you stand for as a business. We didn’t want to go down the traditional asset management route of blue. There’s no point in being the same.”

One of the advantages PAM has a smaller player is that it can offer a genuinely personalised experience.

“The objective is to ensure clients and investors know who we are as people. As a smaller firm we have the ability to do that.

“We don’t want to lose that small personalised experience that clients benefit from.”

The objective is to be seen not just as an asset manager providing products, but “a bunch of super bright, innovative people who like solving problems.” This is showcased through the firm’s regular communications, and will be furthered through the podcast the firm is launching in Q4.

As well as personalisation, being smaller has other advantages. As a privately owned company and a boutique firm, PAM is unencumbered by legacy.

“Giants can’t jump – we’re smaller and agile and we definitely can.”

Simon cites US tech titans Apple and Tesla as an inspiration here.

“You never see the news announcement about Apple’s homepage rebrand because they’re constantly developing it.”

The Silicon Valley mindset is also reflected through the firm’s emphasis on short-term goals rather than long-term strategic plans.

While the firm of course has long-term ambitions, a key tenet of Simon’s approach is focusing on constant delivery on short-term targets.

“For me, it’s a marketing strategy that constantly delivers on the firm’s goals – long-term thinking, but based around small objectives that you can get done quickly and continue to grow.

“Technology just changes so quickly. The longer term projects can quickly get derailed, bogged down or be very hard to implement.”

He cites the example of Apple again, as well as another US tech titan, the electric car company Tesla.

“Tesla doesn’t wait until the battery can get you 700 miles [before launching a car]. Apple produces incredible products all the time, they don’t wait for them to be perfect.”

He says, for example, that this could mean implementing a digital tool that does 10 things but not the total 15 that it could.

“There’s no point in not releasing that, because it’s still a very powerful tool that people can use.”

Running a smaller marketing team also requires the firm to think about how automation can be used to achieve the same results as a bigger team.

There are resources that the team has to produce on a regular basis, which would be impossible if done manually but hugely expensive to outsource. There is strong technology and quant expertise within the business which has allowed the company to create powerful automation tools.

By linking InDesign to the firm’s database, the team can produce factsheets in “about two seconds”. PAM used this initially for themselves, but then offered it as a service for clients, allowing them to produce strategy sheets and advisor materials.

With automation a key consideration, Simon thinks carefully about the skill sets of his teams. The team has very diverse skill sets, but these are future-proofed rather than focused on particular channels such as live events.

Outsourcing is also key to being able to handle the many demands. For example, PR is outsourced to a trusted partner, while a digital agency works on keeping the website fresh and on-brand.

“We’re a fresh, progressive, innovative asset manager trying to rethink how it’s done,” Simon summarises, adding that the firm “does things differently for the right reasons”.

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