Benchmark Reporting Marks New Focus
SGI created the STAR Awards program for the mutual fund industry and this year, will begin issuing detailed scoring analysis to entrants of the program. This marks a first for SGI and its digital team. Behind the system is a detailed online entry and judging system. And new this year, there will be a greatly expanded pool of highly credentialed judges form both in and outside the fund industry. Nearly 60 judges from around the country will participate to ensure the reports provide insightful and verifiable peer reporting.
The new system will be announced to the industry in mid-January.
National Marketing Program Expands
Smith’s successful national secondary marketing program for the closed-end fund industry will greatly expand this year as the second phase of the program is launched. Smith has developed a highly-integrated content management program to reach advisors, investors and the national financial media. At the center of the program is a Content Editorial System to ensure that the right messages are being developed in real time, and distributed to the right targets.
Google Presentation Ranked #1
SGI Awards Program for Fund Leaders
Responsive Design in the Financial Services Industry
Digital channels continue to represent an important approach for firms and financial professionals alike to educate consumers and communicate with clients. Prospects and clients are now, more than ever, actively engaging in online research as well as managing their accounts by methods alternate to the desktop computer. According to a study conducted by Usablenet (PDF) on tablet growth, 66% of tablet users research products before buying online, 31% use the device for purchases (expected to increase to 61% by 2018) and 25% will make mobile payments with their device by 2017.
Financial professionals are also increasing their use of mobile devices and tablets, generate sales and to service their clients. The mobility of tablets provides advisors with faster access to web-based information and tools, and with greater accuracy than ever before.
The emergence of versatile and intuitive tablets and mobile phones has sparked a shift in web development the past years, from mobile websites and apps to multi-platform responsive websites. The responsive design shift is a targeted approach for the construction and visual structure of sites. The goal: to provide an optimal user experience –easy reading and navigation with minimal resizing, panning and scrolling –across the three major devices: mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 58% of American adults owned a smartphone and 42% owned a tablet, with both figures projected to grow.
Financial services firms have responded to growing consumer demand by introducing new and redesigned websites with ever more powerful data offerings and account management capabilities. Recently, these enhancements have seen a boom in the insurance and retirement industry segments. Corporate Insight has reviewed finance activity from its ongoing Monitor Research Services coverage for the past 20 years, identifying and reporting on noteworthy developments and trends. As Q1 closes out, we review the last 15 months, and caste predictions for the rest of 2015.
There are three stages in multi-platform web development. Firms continue to raise the bar when redesigning their websites, to incorporate the most intuitive and streamlined features with responsive design. There is a clear push from firms to first redesign their public sites, followed by private and participant sites, and lastly advisor websites.
- Leading firms continue to improve their account information. While most firms have the basics of account information covered on their responsive sites, innovators continue to improve presentation –particularly with data visualizations and accessibility –through login features, interactive functionalities and widgets. On the other hand, responsive transactional capabilities still lag in the retirement and insurance spaces, compared to other industries like banking.
- Advisors will continue to push for cross-platform client servicing capabilities. Through the use of tablets and phones, advisors are developing business practices for servicing clients as well as selling and marketing to prospects. Integrating the full range of web capabilities into a cross-platform system will help financial professionals significantly increase efficiencies.
- Developing for a variety of devices remains a challenge. As phones are getting larger and tablets are getting smaller, firms are challenged to design new sites with multiple layouts and enhanced functionalities. The tech-savvy generation has set high expectations and firms are challenged to keep up with technological trends while reducing costs. Responsive web design, however, has gained plenty of momentum, particularly in the retirement and insurance industry segments that have been slow to embrace mobile.
Access the full report to see a detailed look at some top financial firms and how they have implemented responsive design. Firms reviewed are Athene, Allianz Life, AXA, MassMutual, Nationwide, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, TIAA-CREF, and Voya.
This information was provided from our Partners at Corporate Insight. Corporate Insight provides competitive intelligence and user experience research to the nation’s leading financial institutions. For 20 years, Corporate Insight has tracked new developments in the financial services industry through their syndicated Monitor research and consulting services.
Marketing Council and STAR Awards Celebration
The Marketing Council will meet in Chicago on October 15, 2015. Make plans now to be part of the fund industry’s only event focusing exclusively on fund marketing, branding and communications. One of the MFEA’s most popular events, the Marketing Council draws more than 100 fund marketing leaders and strategists.
The STAR Awards Celebration will also be held in Chicago that evening at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Be on hand when the 2015 STAR Awards winners are announced, recognizing excellence in marketing, communications and digital efforts in the asset management industry. The prestigious Community Investment Award will also be presented.
Digital Council Event a Success
SGI hosted a MFEA event for the annual Digital Council June 3rd-4th in Atlanta. Digital fund leaders from more than 35 firms came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face in everything from Website user experience to data driven marketing. Marketing Automation, FA Lead Scoring and Listening Strategies were other hot topics. The Digital Council event is an semi annual event that provides informative and interactive forum specifically for fund executives involved in strategic planning, execution, and all things digital.
The Event for Digital Marketing Innovation in the Asset Management Industry
This is the only event specifically designed for digital strategists, managers and teams in the asset management industry. Strategies, successes and lessons learned were examined via expert presentations and best practices at this one-of-a-kind forum.
The 2015 Conference
The agenda was packed full of interesting speakers. Join us for Keynote sessions, interactive roundtables, panel discussions, breakout sessions and key networking events that will connect you and inspire you to forge ahead in the digital future.
Agenda highlights included:
- Data Driven Marketing
- The Reality of Marketing Automation
- FA Lead Scoring
- Invesco Case Study: Delivering a Unified Web Client Experience
- Listening Throughout the Customer Life Cycle
- The New Digital Presence: Getting Your Constituents Engaged
- Executive Roundtable
Data Driven Marketing, Automation and Lead Scoring • Discussions on the latest trends in data driven marketing will touch on data sourcing, analytics, and decision making. Learn how to transform your organization to one where digital is the hub and marketing works together with your owned, earned and paid experiences. Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing is extremely important to help Sales achieve their goals. Listen to best practices on scoring interactions to invoke automated campaigns that drive your business.
Site Design, Listening to the Customer and Aligning your Business • Online experiences are ever changing and becoming increasingly more mobile friendly. See how one firm is establishing their online presence for the future and optimizing for multiple devices. Hear from the experts on best practices around active listening, social engagement and enhancing your brand. Digital is increasingly playing a key role in engagement with your target customers. Hear relevant experiences on how companies are benefiting from the right engagement with the right customers. Understand how others are aligning their business to structure groups and workflows to build engagement across their corporate divisions.
Interested in attending a similar event in the future?
Houston Advisor Summit a Success
SGI hosted a CEFA event in Houston, Texas on May 19th.
The Closed-End Fund Association presented the Advisor Summit – The Advantages of Closed-End Funds Seeking Income, Finding Value. The Advisor Summit is the event for financial advisors who want to know more about how to take advantage of the unique investment opportunities of CEFs.
Fox Business mentions our Client site MFEA.com
Fox Business recently ran an article on the 4 steps to Mutual Funds and mentions our client site we built and maintain at MFEA.com.
4 Steps to Selecting a Mutual Fund
Military personnel are often told where to be, what to do, and when. One of the things you’re not told is how to weed through the more than 10,000 mutual funds available in North America and figure out which ones are right for you.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
Assess Your Situation
Experts say the first step in investing is figuring out your personal financial situation: goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. You need to know the reason you’re investing—what that money will be used for—and when you’ll need to use it, as well as how much risk you can stomach along the way.
“I always say the purpose of money dictates where it goes,” says Michael Pellegrino, principal and co-owner at GoldStone Financial Group. Decide whether you want the money for retirement 20+ years down the line, for a child’s education, or to purchase a house in the next few years.
The longer your time horizon, the more risk you may want to take, since you will have time to make up for any short-term declines. Charlie Smith, CIO, founder and manager of the Fort Pitt Capital Total Return Fund, says that every 2 or 3 out of 10 years the markets produce negative gains, so you’ll want something that can ride through the down periods.
Do Your Research
Every fund company has a website with tools and information on all its funds. Obviously each institution has a biased opinion towards its own funds and is trying to sell themselves. So if you go that route, make sure you shop around and compare multiple companies.
One solid and unbiased resource, according to Pellegrino, is the Mutual Fund Education Alliance, found at www.mfea.com. It’s a nonprofit trade association for mutual funds, and it has everything from educational resources explaining types of funds, to blog commentary by different institutions that offer them.
Another well-known resource is Morningstar. The site offers a basic membership for free that lets you track investments, read articles/commentary and view basic fund data. Or, you can sign up for a premium account to access all the bells and whistles and screen funds using all sorts of parameters like manager tenure, past performance, volatility and cost.
Smith says that you don’t need a year subscription to do your research and suggests taking advantage of a free trial membership.
Specifics to Look for:
Understanding the types of fees and costs associated with funds is essential. Research suggests that load funds—ones that have a sales charge upon purchase (a front-end load), when sold (back-end load), or as long as the fund is held (level-load)—do not outperform no-load funds.
Jane Bryant Quinn, author of Making the Most of Your Money Now, and a self-admitted cost maven, states emphatically that, “There is only one thing that has been proven again and again to improve mutual fund returns, and that is low costs…. Everything else is ruffles.”
According to Quinn, the funds with the lowest costs do better over the long term than the funds with higher costs. The higher cost funds typically take more risks—aiming for higher returns—but they don’t always pay off.
Fund track record and, in the same vein, manager tenure, are also informative statistics to look at. Keeping in mind that past performance is not a guarantee of future results, you want to see how a fund has performed during good market periods, but just as importantly during bad market periods. Look for consistency of returns—that’s a better indication to Pellegrino than drastic up and down swings.
Be sure to check if the current fund manager is the one who built the track record that you’re seeing. When managers change, the outcome of the fund could change with it, so track record means much less if the fund manager is new.
Set It and Forget It
The idea that you’re going to trade yourself to wealth or be able to successfully time the market is a fallacy, according to Smith. He says, “Once you build your portfolio, the less you want to do with it. You want to have the fortitude to add to it when the market’s down, but the less you play with it, the better you’re going to be.”
The experts agreed, once your strategy is in motion—stay the course.
“Investing in a lot of ways is like a bar of soap: the more you play with it the smaller it’s going to get,” says Smith.
The Mutual Fund Investor Center (www.mfea.com) is a fully owned and operated site by Smith Group Inc for the Mutual Fund Education Alliance.
Image credit via iStock