Fund-Company Sites: Investors Drive Content Revolution

mfea_300Investors now hold the content reigns, and it’s showing up in big ways on investment sites. In a recent Ignites article ‘Shops Shine Up Investor Websites,’ MFEA partners Boston Financial Data Services and Corporate Insight weighed in on the changes they have seen. After concluding that what was a slow industry start has reached a rapid rate of content fire, MFEA took a deep dive into what’s happening with content, why the industry arrived where it has, and who the key players are in this content revolution.

Three content trends have taken web content by storm.

1. Many companies are bringing their advisor and investor websites under one umbrella. What may seem like a slippery slope, Brian Melter, managing director of E-Business Solutions at Boston Financial, has seen executed effectively. “It’s all about content and context. And while it once was simply a different audience, in terms of an investor or an advisor visiting the site, you also now have to keep in mind the type of device they are accessing the site from. Something written in narrative form may seem fine when reading on a monitor at your desk, but that same piece may be tiresome to read on smartphone.”

In some instances, the marriage of investor and advisor content allows both parties to visit the same place, while the website simultaneously creates different content experiences for both users based on who they are and what they are using to access the site.

Melter explains, saying “This (design model) gives investors the ability to do their own research on products that may have been suggested by their advisor and also gives the advisor the ability to get to the advisor-only information, as well. The trust but verify approach is something we are seeing more from investors. Instead of taking advisor recommendations at face value, investors like to validate and learn more about the products by doing their own primary research.”

2. Alternatively, another content trend some companies are embracing is the tandem update of advisor and investor sites. Through either revamps or bottom-up redesigns, investor sites are finally getting the attention their advisor website counterparts have had for years. Investors are increasingly wanting to go deeper than the standard fact sheet and learn more about the company, the brand, and the manager behind their investments. “A slip up in brand perception or an unsatisfying web experience may put doubts in an investors mind about a product, which then may be relayed to their advisor”, says Melter.

3. Taking things one step further is the degree to which advisor and investor content is tailored. We live in a highly-personalized world that is powered by big data and fueled by the increasing demand for a highly individualized experience.
Below, Erika Fazekas, Analyst for Advisor Monitor and Mutual Fund Monitor at Corporate Insight, explains how important this is, especially when it comes to millennial content-marketing.

“A recent J.D. Power Study indicates that even though 72% of millennials described themselves as self-directed in terms of controlling their own wealth, they also generally lack financial knowledge as compared to their peers. Fund products need to be designed in a way that resonates with these individuals and communications need to be concise, yet highly informative,” notes Fazekas.

Having adapted this user-centric content model has benefited the fund companies as much as their clients. For instance, by allowing advisors to access product information, white papers, portfolio manager commentary and other content specific to their needs, “…it may also be a way to do some more advanced product marketing when blending the web and sales data together to suggest other products that may be beneficial to both the advisor and their clients,” Melter comments.

Whether a firm adopts any of these three digital-content trends or a mixture of them, there’s a big pay-off in shifting the focus to the client experience.
It’s a win-win Melter says, explaining that rather than trying to dictate the content experience, it is better to listen, watch, and monitor, catering to user needs, which in turn will help to build brand strength and recognition, and hopefully secure future business.

Many firms have acknowledged existing gaps in their content-marketing efforts and a handful have begun implementation of improvements, paving the road for their peers. Fazekas notes that firms like AB –formerly AllianceBernstein—and Franklin Templeton concurrently updated their advisor and investor sites in 2015.

Fazekas says that after doing a redesign in 2015, Vanguard took the content experience one step further by issuing commentary and FAQ pages that addressed the changes made, after they had already informed users of the pending changes prior to the redesign.

Where exactly fund companies will land with their digital content marketing strategies is still unclear, but you can be certain investors will continue to act as key influencers and drivers regardless of if they are investing directly or through an advisor.