EVENT SUMMARY Time to ditch KPIs? The metrics that matter in asset management marketing

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum


Bradley Gamage Director, Financial Services UK, Publicis Sapient

Brian Stewart Global Head of Consumer Insight, Analytics, and Reporting, AXA Investment Managers Ltd

Hazel Pitchers Founder, Merakiting Ltd.

Richard Lander Director CityWire Engage

Stephen Welch Managing Director, Realise Unlimited


Marketers need to ditch traditional KPIs and cement better relationships with other parts of the business, according to a live panel hosted by the Financial Services Forum this week.

Hosted at abrdn’s offices in the City of London and chaired by FSF Managing Director David Cowan, the event featured a range of speakers with extensive experience in asset management marketing.


Why the right metrics are important

Bradley Gamage of Sapient kicked off the discussion drawing on an analogy from rugby. He showed an infographic from the recent England vs Scotland Six Nations match, pointing out that metrics such as possession and scrum success showed the two teams performing roughly equally. It was only the crucial metric of red zone efficiency – the ability to score a try when in actual distance of the goal-line – which in the end separated Scotland as the winner.

The essential point was that teams can only understand and replicate success if they know what the important metrics are.

Many metrics are not capturing how customers engage with the brand, added Brian Stewart. He started at AXA several years ago but says he has faced an uphill struggle to really cement better data practices in the right organisation.

Well chosen metrics can allow organisations to quickly identify where they are going wrong; Bradley used the example of client Vodafone, which saw issues with customer experience in its stores due to a commission and pay structure based purely around new sales.


Finding the right metrics

So how can organisations find the right metrics? Brian of AXA said that “if you don’t have the people who can analyse and provide insight on the data, meetings will end up in a big argument.”

He suggests casting the net wider in the search for talent to encompass different industries; he has recently hired analysts from retailers such as Farfetched.

He argued that “KPIs should be struck off – we should talk about outcome and key results: OKRs.” Bradley advised attendees to ask why certain data is being collected. Some metrics may be those devised years before and may no longer be relevant in a digital age.

Hazel Pitcher from Merakiting suggested internal audiences as one starting point. Showing growth in the number of website visits and other “vanity metrics” mean nothing to the C-suite unless they are aligned to the business strategy.

“We’re often seen as the crayon people,” Hazel pointed out. “We’re failing to speak to people in the way they actually think.”

Stephen Welsh pointed out that different departments are used to talking about different metrics, and work needs to be done to break down barriers and make sure all parts of the business know where they fit in. Business definitions need to be consistent, and companies must avoid having different versions of the truth in different places.

With organisations that are primarily optimised to make fund managers successful, adds Hazel, getting the right data in the right place can be extremely difficult.

Commenting from the supplier side, Bradley added that every business department has its own strategy, and asset managers often view their core business as relationship management. This can lead to a lack of understanding in sales departments as to why they should care about data, meaning it gets pushed down the agenda.

This cultural challenge can be married with a technical one, added Brian.

“Can people honestly say their CRM system is used properly? Where I am it’s not – it’s used as a rolodex. As a data person it’s of no use.”

This is despite the CRM housing the highly crucial sales data. Resolving this, and implementing the marketing automation tools required, can take years, he noted.

How can marketers resolve this? Partly by building better connections and developing awareness of the role of marketing within the business, the panellists suggested.

Bradley noted that in asset management employees are seen as having either an R or a C next to their name – they are either a revenue generator or a cost to the business.

His advice drew on Sun Tzu: “keep your friends close and your enemies close. Get close to the people in the organisation who are giving you the biggest pain.”

In particular he suggested working closely with the chief technology officer, as well as sales and distribution.

Brian said that marketers, as data insight specialists, have a unique skillset in the business. This was followed up by Hazel.

“The more marketers can produce interesting insight, the more it gives them a seat at the table. You can take the subjectivity out of it and say that this is what customers are interested in.”


Content is king

An increasingly key way of capturing this insight about customers, as well as moving customers through the funnel, is content.

However, Stephen suggests that the picture here is lacking several key areas.

“Some of the basic metrics are in place: open rates and attendance rates are well captured.”

Marketers can also capture increasingly sophisticated behavioural data, he explained. Natural language processing allows marketers to really understand tone of voice and how well different images work.

However, the picture is lacking in terms of metadata. For example, a firm might have run 100 campaigns but not have captured the subject line or other key pieces of information.

To provide any chance of analysing what is working at scale, the right tags need to be applied across multiple dimensions.

Unfortunately this can be a long process, requiring the extensive legwork of categorisation or the use of AI.

Hazel added that building these categories should draw on where the content fits within the content strategy and in a literature hierarchy. Something may be a brand-building piece of thought leadership, an educational whitepaper to build awareness. It will also have a theme – what is it about. The taxonomy must draw together all these different elements.

Brian suggests drawing the taxonomy on a piece of paper. Things need to fit within a global and local taxonomy, and may end up having 10 different tags.

However, there is “no easy fix”, says Stephen.

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