Many portfolio managers, analysts and advisors tell us they are too busy to take the time to explain what they do. Many are also concerned about sharing their “secret sauce,” that what they say might be proprietary. But we tell our clients that they need to “lift the curtain” to transparently explain what they do and what they’ve consistently done over time.
A generous example
One advisor we work with is generous with his time educating clients and the media, discussing topics of importance to them and writing thoughtful educational pieces. His practice has been very successful, growing and gaining assets over the years. Despite being extremely stretched for time, he always finds a moment or two to share insights when asked.
He told me his philosophy comes down to this: “You have to give in order to get.” He gives by spending time educating others about his investment approach. What he gets is stronger relationships and better engagement with clients, prospects and the media. He also gets loyal clients, regular media exposure and asset growth.
In our view, this philosophy is at the heart of good public relations. To be perceived as a credible source for media, you need to share your insights. You can’t expect that every interaction will lead to a sales lead or every article you write will directly lead to new assets. But by positioning yourself as a credible expert—to clients who read your articles and media who regularly use you as a source—you can build brand awareness that ultimately supports your growth.
In this framework of giving, there are a number of ways asset managers can share their unique knowledge:
- Short-form articles. Interesting content doesn’t have to be long. Portfolio managers, analysts or other experts can create articles to post to a website or social media on topics that are timely and in the news. We saw a number of effective pieces describing the impact of recent news events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how it impacted markets. These articles were truly educational and transparent looks at how a geopolitical event affects markets and offered an opportunity to reassure investors that they are in good hands. Some financial media outlets will take outside contributed content provided it is educational and not self-promotional. Pensions & Investments, Barron’s, MarketWatch and others occasionally take content from financial experts.
- Whitepapers. Longer-form whitepapers focused on an interesting dynamic in the markets in which you invest can provide a deeper look at an aspect of your approach. These deep-dive pieces should be on topics your clients are interested in or concerned about. We saw some terrific whitepapers about investment opportunities in China or India, the relative performance of various market sectors, interesting investment opportunities in more esoteric parts of the markets or behavioral finance effects on investment decision making.
- Webinars. Opportunities to participate in sponsored or earned webinars allow investment professionals to talk about a topic and respond to questions from other experts in real time. A recorded version of these webinars can usually be posted to your website or shared via social.
- Earned media coverage. Be available for interviews with media covering your space. You can gain credibility and be widely seen by customers and prospects when quoted as an expert in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Pensions & Investments or the Financial Times—or appearing on one of the market-focused TV networks–on investment topics.
The ‘giving’ test
The most important guidance, and this is where we get at the key theme of “giving,” is that the information shared needs to be timely, relevant and useful. Offer expertise with the only intention of helping others make better decisions. When clients see content on your website or your firm quoted in the media, they will respect you and think of you as an expert, a position that accrues positively to your reputation over time. For prospects, this information helps them get to know your firm and gain trust. They need to see who you are and how you think in order to become more comfortable with you.
One side note is that it is helpful to provide rich detailed examples including individual stocks or bonds that illustrate your point. For some this can be a compliance nonstarter, but it doesn’t have to be. While some managers have a blanket rule that they don’t talk about individual investments, in our experience most can actually discuss individual securities if doing so illustrates their investment approach and provided they aren’t conflicted in any way or actively trading in those securities. Real examples make for richer content in our opinion and many more media opportunities as well.
So get going and start giving away your ideas. You’ll be surprised what you get in return.