Client strategy in Asset Management?  A major opportunity for differentiation in 2015

Client strategy in Asset Management? A major opportunity for differentiation in 2015


If you didn’t make it to TSAM’s Annual conference on Client Reporting and Communications in London this year, you missed out on a fascinating series of sessions in which some of the world’s leading asset management firms and commentators on the sector shaped ideas and perspectives on the latest developments in Client Reporting and other aspects of client facing strategies.

Now in its 18th year, the two day event brought together senior client relationship management and communication executives from leading global asset management firms. For those that made it and for those that couldn’t, Gulland Padfield has synthesised some of the eye-catching headlines from the conference.

We were delighted to continue our participation at this year’s event. Gulland Padfield partner, James Phillips hosted a panel discussion on Innovating the Client Experience and Increasing the Value Proposition for Clients with Charles Spungin of Wells Fargo Asset Management, Alain Mundy of PIMCO and Charlie Cuffin of Fidelity Investments. The Gulland Padfield team, also ran a separate working session on Client Strategy with participation from senior client relationship executives from leading global asset management firms.

Having heard the contributions from participants and the perspectives offered by distinguished speakers at the event, here are our 10 observations from the event:

1. Client Strategy is still poorly understood and defined in most institutions: delegates acknowledged that fund managers are still in the early stages of shaping and successfully rolling-out the Client Strategy that will help them deliver on their Business Strategy. And it’s not just about one part of the business doing better, delegates acknowledged that firms need to adopt a more holistic approach to designing, implementing and managing their client reporting and communications activities. What most firms lack is an overall framework to think about Client Reporting in the context of the firm’s Client and Business Strategy.

2. Weak and non-existent Client insights programs are a worrying Achilles heel for firms across the sector: participants commented on the lack of deep and rich client insights generated by in-house programs. They fail to ask the right questions and to address failings in service delivery. An effective program should provide senior management with forward looking, actionable items. Implementation requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders, recognition that the client experience touches the entire organisation and acknowledgement that these programs are not just marketing initiatives. Client insight programs were recognised as playing a pivotal role in shaping a proper segmentation framework.

3. Segmentation still at first base but will be a competitive advantage to those asset management firms who get it right: in the Gulland Padfield workshop at the conference, only half of the participants stated that their firms go beyond the traditional segmentation criteria and use multiple elements to segment client base investors. Those that are investing time and resources in this exercise, are seeing success in building stronger relationships with clients that deliver a more profitable service. Firms now recognize that better client segmentation is a strategic priority and can no longer be based simply on investor type and AUM.

4. Client service delivery – confusion over who should be responsible for reporting: there is no clear standard within the industry for which parts of the business have responsibility for service delivery – for some it is sales and marketing, while for others, operations. Proper account management should provide clients with relationship management for their interactions across the business, deliver services efficiently and be flexible within a clearly defined approach.

5. Internal communications need further energy and attention from management: senior management must clearly articulate across their business the benefits of a client centric approach to client service and ensure that internal communication channels remain fluid and open to identify and spread good practice.

6. Fresh KPIs are needed to get focus on Client Service delivery: firms should recognize the value in utilising KPIs to benchmark their performance in delivering client service. KPIs can identify areas of weakness and help management teams make more effective decisions to resolve issues. The majority focus just on financial performance or technical aspects of reporting not the health of their overall relationships.

7. It’s time to close the Human Capital gap: firms continue to upgrade their talent across the entire organisation, instil the right client service culture, and have a more team-based approach to servicing clients. Client facing executives are expected to have the deep knowledge of client portfolios and be seen to add value.

8. Transparency is the ‘squeaky wheel’ for AM clients and remains a big challenge for many fund managers who must meet client requests for greater transparency in portfolio construction, performance attribution and risk. One TSAM panellist cited that a quarter of pension trustees expressed a lack of trust in the information provided by their fund managers. Firms face continued pressure to communicate and report in a complex global regulatory environment in formats which are timely and accurate.

9. Client reporting becomes clearer – benefits of automation: fund managers continue to invest in the automation of their client reporting. Participants cited the significant reduction in the number of reports they now produce automatically versus what they previously manufactured manually.

10. Content delivery - the debate continues: fund managers debated the merits of investing in self-service web portals vs. responding to client requests for information. The debate continues with some firms seeing value in adopting a “Push” approach while others a “Pull” approach to distributing content.


Would you like to learn more about how we work with clients in the Asset Management sector to transform their Client and Business strategy? Contact James Phillips on or Henry Weston Davies on to hear more about our award-winning approach including our workshop called “Kickstart your Client Strategy: How to transform Performance and Profitability by linking your firm’s Client Strategy to its Business Strategy.”

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