Rise of the RIA — Many of our favorite media sites like CityWire RIA and RIA Biz didn’t even exist as the bulk of advisors were at wirehouses and traditional brokerage firms. But the shift to fiduciary advice saw advisors move to fee-based models and an explosion in the number of CFPs. This was helped by consumer demand due to the march of demographics as the first Baby Boomers began to retire in 2011.
A changing mutual fund product landscape — Exchange-traded funds, the first of which (SPDR) was launched just 30 years ago (see post), ushered in a new way to invest and grabbed market share from traditional mutual funds. While mutual funds with good track records, well defined processes, unique or alternative investment approaches and reasonable costs can still build a following, they face steep competition as more and more advisors adopt ETFs. More recently, advisors and some consumers are gravitating toward separately managed accounts (SMAs) and direct indexing; technology now allows asset managers to customize these accounts for tax and other purposes.
Sustainable investing goes mainstream — Twenty years ago, sustainable investing was small and niche. A maturing of the industry and consumer interest, driven by a warming climate and seemingly intractable societal issues has meant more investment products use environmental, social and governance criteria. Despite a recent backlash, research shows many investment managers consider ESG factors material to their investment process.
The rise of the brand as publisher —Web 2.0 (Tim O’Reilly’s seminal explanation appeared in 2005) and the mainstreaming of blogging and podcasting capability had at least two direct effects on this business:
- Firms began to communicate more and directly to their clients and investors as opposed to waiting to be interviewed by traditional media.
- The stream of firm thought leadership and market content equipped us with more to reach out to engage media.
The rise of owned media — This rapid increase in content became the crux of much of our communications outreach efforts. It provides our clients with the opportunity to demonstrate their authority through their blogs, whitepapers, educational webinars and decks—all “owned” media our clients create and control that often gets placed into publications, becoming “earned” media.
The impact of social media — Easy to publish websites and blogs and the use of social media to call attention to them gave rise to new voices, representing neither known brands or traditional media. In our industry, Michael Kitces may be the best illustration of a force known as an influencer. Today influencers are part of any awareness-raising campaign.
Social amplification — The explosion of social media meant that organizations can engage immediately and around the clock with customers, prospects, policy makers and media. This is a two-edged sword, especially in a crisis, when rapid fire interactions and memes can leave companies struggling to respond (see recent post).