Broadridge Financial Solutions this week released its 11th annual Fund Brand 50 study of the world’s best-performing third-party asset management brands, which measures and ranks asset managers’ relative brand attractiveness based on fund selector perceptions.
“A second year of the pandemic meant that asset management firms needed to have their digital strategies firmly in place: while at the same time, key investment areas like ESG and thematic demonstrated the importance of innovation,” Chris Chancellor, vice president for distribution insight at Broadridge.
“The growing prevalence of ESG in the asset management space redefined prospects for brand engagement and established a new kind of relationship between client and manager built along ideological lines.”
Broadridge noted that the top five global brands in its study are all industry giants in terms of both assets under management and operational scale. Selectors’ favorite companies, however, run the gamut from niche product and local market specialists to the major one-stop-shop providers.
“There were a range of winners in the eyes of fund selectors, and no single strategy prevailed,” Chancellor said.
Instead, he noted, a variety of different models had success: larger firms’ supermarket-style offerings to smaller managers that built value propositions around excellence at storytelling or carved out a niche as smaller investment specialists.
The study was based on interviews with some 1,200 of the most significant fund selectors in the U.S., Europe and the Asia/Pacific region, who name their top three suppliers across 10 brand attributes, which include appealing investment strategy, client-oriented thinking, innovation and solidity.
Researchers then collaged these choices, as well as commentary from other preference questions, using statistical analysis and transformed them into a total brand score, on which groups are ranked.
What Fund Selectors Value Most
According to the study, fund selectors across regions highly valued certain attributes. For U.S. selectors, it was “solidity” ahead of “client-oriented thinking,” as they seek security in a volatile environment.
European selectors said “appealing investment strategy” is most important, followed by “client-oriented thinking” and “keeping best informed,” both in second place.
APAC selectors also cited “appealing investment strategy” as the most important brand attribute. Their next two priorities were “expert in what they do” and “keeping best informed.” At the same time, fund selectors in the region identified approachable and knowledgeable specialists as key to selection.
The study found that while their clients want a lot of choice, U.S. fund selectors tend to place their trust in a relatively small number of products. Many selectors favor providers with a broad investment offering and a product mix that works for a vast majority of investors.
The study also found that demand by end investors across all regions intensified interest in sustainability and thematic fund providers intensified.
Managers in Europe with a credible track record in so-called green investing had a notable advantage over industry laggards, with the 2021 introduction of the Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation in EU markets providing a measure of standardization and facilitating greater differentiation between brands.
According to the study, the fastest-rising brands in Europe impressed selectors with their expert reputation. These had proven ESG credentials, kept up to date with recent regulatory and product developments or boasted expertise in more niche propositions.
In APAC, interest in ESG is on the rise, but so are concerns around greenwashing, whereby a company markets itself as environmentally conscious without striving to do so.
Fund selectors in the region also expressed concern about the profitability of ESG investments in local markets, particularly Japan.
See the gallery for the top 10 global asset management brands, as well as the top 10 brands in the U.S., Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.