GLOBAL - Investment managers widely considered the best in servicing their clients have much in common, finds a new study by Mercer Manager Advisory Services.
The study of ten top-rated managers finds that they share the following seven key traits.
* Relationship manager on point. While no one servicing model is right for every manager, the most successful managers employ a relationship manager as the key contact in a mix of professionals servicing the client. This individual is knowledgeable, empowered, and, what is critically important, proactive in their communication and contact with clients. Other individuals who may be involved in the servicing model include the portfolio manager, a product manager or specialist, account support, and, at times, a salesperson. In all scenarios, the relationship manager is the point person.
* Added incentives. Those responsible for the relationship need adequate compensation and incentives. Key servicing contacts are compensated with incentive bonuses in addition to salaries, and are often rewarded for client retention and cross sales. Compensation also varies by market-size and is particularly higher in firms that focus on the $1bn-plus segment.
* Dedication to consultants. As consultants remain a critical audience for managers’ communication efforts, the best firms have a separate, dedicated group for servicing them and their specific needs.
4. Websites with everything. Websites are key in the servicing efforts of the most successful servicing managers. While the investment management industry has generally been ‘behind the curve’ when it comes to the internet, this is changing rapidly, said Kristen Pawlak, senior consultant with Mercer Manager Advisory Services. Client access to specific account and other information is a norm for the best managers. Not only is this medium used for reporting information, but also for soft marketing and organisation-related communication. Precious face time can then be saved for other value-added interface and client-specific issues.
5. E-mail as a tool. The use of e-mail by the best managers is frequent and effective. These firms communicate, on average, with at least half of their clients via e-mail, most using it in conjunction with other methods such as mail, telephone calls, and in-person visits. Further, roughly two in three clients prefer to receive communication related to investment events, processes, changes, and the firm itself, via e-mail.
6. Satisfaction measurement. These top managers measure their clients’ satisfaction by using an objective third party to do so. By evaluating satisfaction, managers gain the insight they need to make informed decisions about products and services. And, they show a true commitment to meeting their clients’ needs and preferences. This finding was the least surprising to Mercer Manager Advisory - we’ve conducted client satisfaction studies for many of the ‘best’ managers for more than 13 years, said Pawlak.
7. A servicing culture. The best managers also make servicing commitment and goals a part of their culture. Most have servicing goals in their mission statements, and some even share these with their clients. More of the larger firms are going a step further by designating a quality officer in their organisation to promote service quality and define and enforce processes that promote quality.
The positioning research was conducted among retirement plan sponsors with assets of at least $10m and is available for purchase by contacting Mercer Manager Advisory Services.
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