The Value of Brand for Financial Services, Asset Management & Investment Banking Firms

Nicholas Jones Brand Coaching, Brand Identity

Strong brands make a difference

In a “slow growing” economy the big financial brands maintain their position inside the market with adaptive strategies which maintain their relevance with the ever shifting market.

The mortgage meltdown of 2008 and an increasing expectation of “transparency” has the financial industry need to differentiate themselves more effectively.

Building brand awareness and driving engagement through advertising and acquisition remain critical. But what does that mean for financial service, asset management and investment firms?

While there are so many business benefits associated with brands, it is interesting that so few financial services firms commit to actively and consistently manage their brands.

The way in which we communicate and do business is not changing. It’s changed. Period. Gone are the days of the typical marketing rhetoric that might have held some real distinct value way back when.

People have grown tired of asset management, investment banking, or insurance services firms who claim they are “Committed to your needs” or are “Built on foundations of transparency and trust”, or “Have a tried and true process”accompanied with “60 years of experience”.

We simply don’t care or don’t believe you. It’s a line that’s been so overused, and does little in creating anything noteworthy or compelling. People have and will continue to just called bullshit because it’s tiring. And guess what else? We won’t even bother to tell you about it. We will simply go where they feel they are truly respected, cared for and looked after.

What is a brand?

The brand is in the actions you take, not the words you use. We’d be fine if investments that yield poor results were handled in such a way that continued to built confidence and assurance with the firm.

Brand development, if done well can build a trusting and supporting relationship that carries through those inevitable rough patches and potential poor returns.

This commitment to your clients, results in better investment performance because they’re in it for the long haul, and decreases acquisition costs since customers are more likely to repeatedly purchase a product/service that they have come to trust and to whom they have demonstrated loyalty and commitment towards.

The competitive advantages associated with strong brands

Evidence shows that it is much more expensive to acquire a customer than to keep one.

  • Clients are more willing to pay a premium price for strong brands
  • A strong brand simplifies client choices. Once a client has purchased a brand, he/she will not feel the need to go through that entire decision-making process again.
  • They will rely on their past experiences with the brand to guide them.

Strong brands, foster strong company culture

  • People are naturally attracted to firms with strong brands
  • This equates to a better pool of talent to hire from
  • If employees see that the brand is managed well and a priority of the company, confidence increases and as a result are more willing to support management decisions

The Me-Too brands just don’t hold any weight anymore

A snapshot of the asset management landscape

An analysis of the top 30 institutional asset managers revealed that the larger firms were no more successful at differentiating themselves than their smaller counterparts:

57% of the top firms described themselves as “client focused.” I’d hope so! That’s a must have, not something to describe as a unique offering to the market. Next.

The same goes with “trust and transparency.” Nearly ¼ of the top firms adopt this as a top-line message. If you’re dealing with anyone’s investments, you better be trustworthy. Again it’s table-stakes.

 — Study done by DeSantis Breindel

The brand basics to implement brand management in the financial services industries

Clients want to know they can trust you with their money…and at the end of the day, they will choose you or stay with you simply because they like you

To stay relevant in today’s environment, you must be willing to adapt and react authentically to the changing market. To deliver your services, you must continue to invest in innovation and technology.

This supports the initiative of developing trust in a marketplace. And you need the right people doing the job. The way business is done is core to building any brand. You cannot simply copy the core behaviors of an organisation and the values that underpin it.

Finding a unique and compelling brand position in a field as crowded and as competitive as financial services isn’t easy. And it can be tempting to fall back to the safety of the tired and overused “status quo”. In today’s financial market, there’s nothing “safe” about an indistinguishable brand.

If this has got you thinking, here is a place to get started:

Basic Brand Implementation Checklist

  • Why are you doing what you do?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Do the messages your clients receive reflect these core components?
  • What about the messages to your employees?

About the Author

Nicholas Jones

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