Whether you are building your firm with an eye to sell, or creating a business you want to endure in perpetuity, effectively positioning your firm for the future requires three key ingredients:
- A clear vision of what you want your firm to look like in five to ten years
- Buy-in and cohesive effort from your firm’s senior leaders and employees
- A well-defined plan of action to achieve your vision
Achieving a Clear Vision
In developing your competitive positioning and key messages, you must look beyond the firm, the services, the resources, and the clients you have today. What do you aspire to do? Remain an investment specialist, broaden your offerings or evolve to a custom solutions provider? Maintain a small, nimble investment team or broaden your investment platform? Serve a selective clientele or diversify your client base? Focus on a predominantly retail or high net worth business, or become an institutional-caliber asset manager? Remain independent, align with a strategic distribution partner, go public or sell? You must consider the changing objectives and challenges of your clients, and build and position your firm to attract clients who will be a good long-term fit for your firm.
Progressing with a United Front
A cohesive, well-communicated vision is essential to long-term success for an asset management firm. Self-assessment is a necessary step to determine where you have commonality of views and where there are differences of opinion. Survey your firm’s leadership team, senior investment professionals, and client service and sales professionals on their perceptions of your firm’s strengths, growth opportunities and competitive challenges. Work together to develop a realistic plan, to build on your strengths and to address your differences. Communicate to every level of the firm. A united team will go further faster than a strong leader with one vision and a group of dissenters.
Defining and Implementing a Plan of Action
The firms most successful in achieving their long-term vision and goals carefully plan their routes to fulfill those goals. The Plan of Action must be a living plan that includes a timeline, milestones, resources needed, and collective and individual responsibilities. You must review the plan regularly (ideally quarterly), assess progress (successes and disappointments) and modify the plan as appropriate. Strong leadership, individual accountability, frequent and transparent internal communications, and flexibility are needed to ensure successful implementation of the plan.
To achieve long-term success, set your sights high, leave nothing to chance and avoid complacency at all costs. “No matter how many goals you have achieved, you must set your sights on a higher one.” ~ Jessica Savitch
Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., a preeminent marketing consulting firm to asset management firms ranging in size from start-up firms to some of the world’s largest investment firms with over $1 trillion under management. Charnley & Røstvold helps clients with competitive positioning, marketing strategies, key messages, presentation refinements, communications and sales training, consultant relations and client service programs.
Christine Røstvold, co-founder of Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., is a popular industry speaker and author. Christine was a founding board member of PAICR (Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources), and served on the Advisory Board for more than a decade.