In the asset management world, investors generally don’t pay any attention to an investment strategy until it hits the three-year mark. Institutional investors and the consultants who serve them are particularly leery about strategies without an established track record. The same is true in in the advisor space, as Morningstar waits for a fund’s three-year anniversary before assigning a star rating.
Therefore, many fund managers kick up communications to a new level once they clear this important hurdle. It may be time, for example, to pitch a successful portfolio manager for a profile in the financial news or a trade publication. That publicity has the potential to do more good once more investors can, based on their own internal rules, consider the strategy for allocation.
There’s an inherent awkwardness, though, about publicizing an anniversary. If you’re a manager with a strong track record after three years, that’s something to celebrate—and to share. But for hard-nosed reporters and their editors, the anniversary itself isn’t news. Ironically, while the original product launch is often considered newsworthy, few can invest at the launch. But now that the fund is beyond its probationary period, it is no longer newsworthy.
That’s where a Q&A-type news release is ideal. The main body of the release consists of a Q&A with either a portfolio manager, preferably, or a sales or distribution executive. That discussion can tie in with current market or industry conditions and create a reason to be in touch with not only media but investors and consultants, too. Here’s a hypothetical example of a “milestone Q&A” news release opening:
Investment team looks ahead as ABC Growth Fund reaches three-year milestone
Portfolio Manager Jane Smith says small-cap opportunity set has changed, but buy/sell discipline hasn’t
CHICAGO, October 15, 2021—The ABC Growth Fund (NASDAQ: ABCXX), ABC Advisors’ mutual fund focused on fast-growing small companies, today marked its three-year anniversary. With volatility near historic lows and the Russell 2000 Growth Index advancing steadily, market dynamics seem to suggest little has changed so far this year. In the following Q&A, Jane Smith, CFA, digs below the surface and argues that appearances are deceiving.
Smith manages the Fund as well as the firm’s associated separate account strategy, which ABC has offered for more than 20 years. In its first three years, the strategy has outperformed its benchmark Russell 2000 Growth Index by more than two percentage points on an annualized basis.
[Standardized performance table and disclosures.]
Q: What’s changed for small-caps versus this time last year?
The questions can then continue through, say, four to six responses. A useful pattern may be to start with market dynamics and then shift to the nature of the strategy and investor appetite for it. At the very bottom, after the firm boilerplate, include any required disclosures beyond those shown with the performance table. If compliance allows, include specific stock or sector ideas that illustrate the investment strategy.
Essentially, the milestone Q&A news release is a content piece dressed up as a news release. Because there’s a specific date involved, the formal structure of the news release makes sense. Just make sure not to reduce its effectiveness by writing text that’s self-congratulatory. As with market commentary or any other type of expert-view content, emphasize the educational aspects and allow the product-related messages to go along for the ride.
Remember, too, that people in the fund industry are well aware of the significance of a three-year (and sometimes five-year) milestone. If a reporter is intrigued by the Q&A content and writes a manager profile, there’s a good chance the milestone will appear in the story. Consultants and institutional investors will intuitively understand the significance, too. Think of the release as a way to help them do their jobs. Write the release in a way that offers meaningful information, then promote it via email, social media and sharing directly with reporters.
If you’re considering posting a milestone Q&A release to a newswire service, you might like to opt for a shorter version that strips out the performance data (in order to shorten up disclosures) and some of the questions. Then, including a link in the short-form release to the full version on your website. Or, since media isn’t necessarily the prime audience for this type of release, consider an inexpensive web-only posting service that doesn’t apply a word-count limit. This is exactly the kind of news you’d like to pop up, even months or years later, in organic search results when people search for the strategy, the fund ticker or portfolio manager’s name.
And in that way, even though the Q&A portion of the content will be dated, your anniversary party can continue far beyond the milestone itself.