Top institutional asset management brands revealed

Insight Investment tops institutional rankings in Edelman’s Asset Management brand index

Jonathan Stapleton
clock • 3 min read
Top institutional asset management brands revealed

Insight Investment toppled Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) as the asset manager whose brand is most highly regarded in the institutional space, a study by Edelman has revealed.

The public relations firm's biennial asset management brand study ranks the 50 largest global institutional managers and the 40 largest UK wholesale/retail managers - analysing brands based on the views of major investment consultants, financial advisers and senior investment media.

Edelman's brand score of institutional asset managers is based on the perception of senior investment consultants, fiduciary managers and relevant media in relation to six brand factors - awareness, distinctiveness, corporate culture, strength of the investment team, rigour of a firm's investment process and quality of the executive management team. 

But, while some managers in the index have seen strong increases in brand recognition, the average institutional brand score has fallen slightly from 66% in the 2019 study to 65.1% in the latest index.

INSTITUTIONAL TOP TEN  

Brand Rank 2021 (2019) 

Manager 

Brand score 2021 (2019) 

1 (2)  

Insight Investment 

83.3 (77.2) 

2 (6) 

PIMCO 

78.1 (72.8) 

3 (1) 

Legal & General Investment Management 

77.4 (78.2) 

4 (3) 

Schroders 

75.4 (74.8) 

5 (4) 

BlackRock 

75.2 (73.8) 

6 (10) 

JP Morgan Asset Management 

73.9 (69.8) 

7 (20) 

Aberdeen Standard Investments 

72.9 (66.6) 

8 (N/A) 

Federated Hermes 

72.4 (N/A) 

9 (8) 

Columbia Threadneedle Investments 

71.7 (70.8) 

10 (14) 

Amundi 

71.5 (68.0) 

 

Key trends

Edelman said one of the key trends it identified in this year's study was that the strong are getting stronger, as "brand winners" start to emerge. It said the spread of scores between the between the top ranked and 50th ranked institutional managers widened to 28.4 percentage points compared to 20.4 percentage points in 2019 - adding that the average score for the top ten ranked managers has risen notably between 2019 and 2021 - from 72.9% to 75.2%. Similarly, it said six top-ten ranked firms from 2019 improved their overall brand scores, with only three declining.

Institutional asset managers have seen their average awareness score drop from 69% to 64.4% but their average distinctiveness score rise from 65.4% to 66%. Edelman said this could reflect more targeted marketing and communications activity - but warned the trade-off for achieving a greater appreciation of firms' areas of strength could be a decline in familiarity and name-recall.

The study also found that, institutional managers have, in aggregate, improved their corporate culture scores, with the average score rising from 63.2% in 2019 to 64.2% in 2021. However, it said that, as many companies made strides in improving the way their culture is perceived by intermediaries and the media, corporate culture is still the single largest drag factor for many managers which otherwise score strongly across other categories. It added that the correlation between corporate culture and management quality scores suggested the power of executive management as torchbearers should not be underestimated.

Edelman global chair of financial services Andrew Wilde said: "We have found that perceptions of asset managers' brands are becoming increasingly polarised. The industry's overall brand scores are dragged upwards by a small number of emerging ‘brand champions' - strong brands which are getting stronger rather than a rising tide lifting all boats across the sector. Moreover, we have uncovered trends showing that asset managers are finding it more and more difficult to communicate genuine points of differentiation and most companies' unique selling points are underappreciated or ignored."

Society of Pension Professionals investment committee chair Neil Davies commented: "In a period defined by a global pandemic, where managers have had to adapt to new ways of working, it is perhaps no surprise that the evidence points to the challenges of maintaining brand awareness. To counteract this, culture is key. This is reassuring in many ways, as it means that for buyers of asset management services, branding can't easily mask capability or cultural shortfalls.  

"Finally, it is no surprise that ESG issues are growing in importance in how asset managers are perceived. Investors and consultants are setting higher expectations on, and demanding more of, their asset managers. This creates a challenge for branding, particularly as managers will often present very similar approaches to how they deal with ESG. As time passes, we expect to see greater clarity about which firms stand out from an ESG perspective."

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