Achieving Success with Strong Investment and Business Leadership

Having equally strong investment and business leadership is a necessity and a key competitive advantage for an asset management firm in today’s market. Many savvy asset managers have failed or faltered due to business mismanagement. Consequently, investors conducting due diligence on asset management firms typically scrutinize the leadership and management of the businesses, and of the investment processes intensely.

Distinct Leadership Responsibilities

There is a clear division of responsibilities and expertise required for running an asset management firm effectively and for spearheading investment success. Business management encompasses a diversity of areas – the infrastructure, financials and budgets, business and marketing plan, compliance/legal, technology, cybersecurity, human resources, etc. The Chief Investment Officer leads the research and investment professionals, oversees the investment process, portfolio construction and risk management, and in most cases, interacts with clients and consultants. The market is skeptical that one person can manage, much less lead all of these areas well.

Emerging and smaller asset management firms are generally constrained by limited capital and revenues. The firm’s founder and Chief Investment Officer is often tasked with running the firm’s business as well as delivering investment performance. This can be a challenge at best and an impediment at worst. Firms that invest in a President, COO or other senior professional with the appropriate expertise and skill sets to lead the business management, generally go further faster and are more likely to succeed. For institutional investors, spending their fee dollars wisely, and minimizing headline and career risks are top priorities.

Building with a Plan

Having a well-defined strategic business plan is a must for asset management firms of all sizes. A respectable plan includes near-term, intermediate and longer-term goals for both business and investments, and of course, the visions must be aligned. Key elements include:

  • AUM and revenue goals, and timeline
  • Resources (internal and outsourced) – current and planned expansion
  • Systems and technology – current and future
  • Budget (operational, travel, entertainment, prospecting and presentations, conferences, PR, outsourced services)
  • Sales and marketing strategy (databases, target markets, distribution channels) –implementation plan
  • Client, consultant and prospect communications (materials, website, social media)
  • Performance objectives and benchmarks, incorporating client needs the firm’s investment strategies can address
  • Capacity targets by strategy
  • Product development
  • Professional development
  • Intellectual capital
  • Succession plan

Business and Investment leaders of successful asset management firms continually and collaboratively review their business plans, assess progress in reaching milestones, and modify as appropriate.

How to Shine in Due Diligence

An asset manager’s ability to answer tough questions regarding the management of their business and investments with authenticity, brevity and clarity is essential. Tough business-related questions raised in due diligence reviews vary depending on the maturity of an asset management firm.

For Emerging Managers:

  • What is your break-even point in terms of AUM/revenues?
  • How is your firm capitalized?
  • How long is your runway should assets be slower in coming than expected?
  • How are you going to attract and retain talent?
  • What roles will you be adding next and at what point?

For more established firms:

  • Is your firm profitable?
  • Do you carry any debt?
  • How much operational cash do you keep on hand?
  • Have you had turnover of key business management or investment professionals?
  • What is your current ownership structure?
  • How do professionals earn equity in your firm?
  • What is your succession plan?
  • What is your asset capacity?
  • What is your cybersecurity policy?
  • Has your firm experienced any regulatory issues or lawsuits?

Answering these questions directly, concisely and without becoming defensive helps build the confidence of potential investors in your firm’s leadership, long-term viability and success. Showing evidence of strong leadership and management is paramount.

Attributes of Well-Led Firms

Attributes that reflect strong business and investment leadership of an asset management firm include:

Investment Leadership Attributes

  • High-conviction leadership with history of attracting, motivating and retaining investment talent
  • Well-resourced, collaborative and stable investment team
  • State-of-the-art investment systems and tools
  • Value-added trading
  • Understandable investment process
  • High transparency of investment process and portfolios (show versus just tell)
  • Consistent, proactive communication with clients and consultants (during good markets and bad)

Business Leadership Attributes

  • Financial stability
  • High continuity of operational, client service and sales professionals
  • Measured growth of AUM
  • Solid infrastructure to support AUM growth and investment offering expansion
  • Effective succession planning and professional development
  • History of no regulatory or legal issues

Pair strong investment leadership with strong leadership of the business management, and you have a winning combination.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Do you have any tips or suggestions for helping asset management firms achieve success through strong investment and business leadership? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following us!


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.

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Competing in a “Solution”-Oriented Environment

Institutional investors are increasingly seeking investment solutions to address their investment needs for return, income, risk reduction, asset-liability matching, etc. The shift away from traditional asset allocation means investment managers can no longer expect to sell products classified by traditional labels such as growth, value or core.

Large, multi-asset-class managers are well-positioned to provide customized solutions to fulfill specific clients. While opportunities for single traditional investment strategies still exist, they are limited. How can long-only and specialist managers compete and survive in a solution-oriented environment?

The answer lies in the messaging. It is essential to link the results of your strategies to client needs. How do you do that? Here are three tips to help you position your strategies effectively in a solution-oriented market.

Know WHAT Your Strategy is Designed to Deliver

Is it alpha, low volatility, income, low correlations, absolute returns, or other outcomes? “Show” versus tell investors the results by developing data that demonstrates your strategy’s historic returns in context of these objectives. If your goal is consistent alpha, show rolling three-, five- and ten-year excess returns. If your strategy offers low volatility, show upside/downside capture of your strategy inception-to-date. If diversification is the deliverable, show correlations of returns relative to peers or other relevant benchmarks.

Be Clear on HOW You Deliver Results

Investors must have confidence in your ability to deliver the promised results. What aspects of your approach or process contribute to the repeatability and consistency of your results? If it is your ability to assess long-term secular trends, and identify industries and companies that will be beneficiaries, give examples. If your competitive edge is stock selection, show performance attribution. If your advantage is capitalizing on market dislocations and volatility to invest opportunistically, cite examples.

Manage Expectations about the WHEN

What is the appropriate investment time horizon over which your strategy can be expected to deliver results? You want to attract clients who are a good long-term fit. That means their horizons and your own must be aligned. If your strategy’s investment horizon is 3 to 5 years or 7 to 10 years, it is important to communicate that to your clients and make sure they understand. If short-term periods of underperformance can be expected, show the past experience or circumstances likely to cause shortfalls.

Institutional clients do not like to be sold, they prefer to buy. That means you must do your homework to understand as much as possible about a prospective client before you begin a dialogue. If a corporate or public fund plan, do they have a significant funding gap? If an endowment or foundation, what are their income requirements? Are they in the news; e.g., moving all their assets to passive? When you do connect, you need to probe with relevant questions to confirm priorities, and understand asset allocation and manager selection policies. Are they planning any changes to their asset allocation policy? Are they receptive to active management? Are they fee-sensitive? You can then determine whether your investment strategies and firm will be a good fit. If so, you are equipped to have meaningful dialogues about how your firm can partner with the client to provide investment solutions for one or more of their investment needs.

Do you have any suggestions for how to strengthen your firm’s competitive position in a solution-oriented environment? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following Charnley & Røstvold!


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.

Winning Back Lost Clients

Losing a client is always painful and costly. Your first priority when losing a client is to start a campaign to win them back. How do you do that? Here are five suggestions.

1. Probe to Understand the Reasons

There are a myriad of reasons managers are terminated, including:

  • Underperformance – failure to achieve client’s objectives, lagging benchmarks and/or peers
  • Organizational changes or professional turnover
  • Fees – relatively high and/or unwilling to negotiate
  • Poor client service – infrequent or ineffective communication, insensitivity to client needs/interests (e.g., diversity, ESG)
  • Asset reallocation – from active to passive; from traditional to alternatives; from external to internal management
  • Consolidation – streamlining the number of managers serving the investor

Whatever the reason, it is important to initiate dialogues with your clients to understand their position. Avoid becoming defensive, and welcome any feedback and criticism. It may help you save other client relationships. To quote Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers [clients] are your greatest source of learning.”

It is optimal for individuals who have the strongest relationships with the client to have the conversations. It also can be beneficial to have an outside independent party talk with the client (and/or their consultant) as well. Elicit as much information as possible with probing questions such as the following:

Sample Probing Questions

If performance-related:

  • What was the primary concern about performance?
  • What time period was most relevant in your decision (e.g., quarterly, annually, trailing or rolling 3 year periods, trailing or rolling 5 year periods)?
  • What, if any, benchmark or peer group comparison was the basis of your decision?
  • What metrics do you monitor most closely in deciding whether to retain a manager: Alpha? Tracking error? Factor exposures? Information ratio? Turnover rate? Sharpe ratio? Risk-adjusted returns? Other?
  • Did our firm adhere to the investment mandate that we initially proposed and which was the basis for your decision to hire us?
  • Was the decision to terminate our firm strongly influenced by a consultant recommendation? If so, what were the reasons?

If organizational concerns:

  • Was the termination related to any specific event or issue (e.g., personnel turnover, succession plan for senior management transition)?
  • Was the decision to terminate our firm strongly influenced by a consultant recommendation? If so, what were the reasons?

If asset allocation policy:

  • When was your most recent asset allocation study conducted and what were the changes? What changes have occurred in your overall investment plan (e.g., actuarial goals, funding level)?
  • What changes have been made in your active/passive allocations? Style allocations?
  • Where will you be reallocating the assets our firm has been managing?

General perceptions:

  • How would you rate our level of client service?
  • How long has our firm been on your “watch list”?
  • Has our firm communicated with you effectively in relation to your stated concerns during this period? Have we asked the right questions to understand the nature and seriousness of your concerns during this period?
  • How could communications or service have been handled better?
  • Was there a “triggering event,” or was the decision based on an accumulation of concerns? Please describe the event or concerns.
  • What is your overall view of our firm as an organization today?
  • Would you consider reestablishing a relationship with us in the future? If so, what would we have to do to succeed with you?
  • Is there anything we could have done, other than performance, to have changed or delayed your decision?

2. Determine If There Is Anything that Could Change the Outcome

You have everything to gain. Explore whether there is a possibility of securing more time to address the issue(s). If performance-related, can you offer a reduced fee for a specified period of time? Does your firm offer other strategies/solutions that will address your client’s needs? Studies show that if you can resolve a problem with a client, you can potentially build a stronger relationship. Keeping even a portion of the assets in another strategy offered by your firm allows you to preserve the relationship.

3. If the Termination Is Irrevocable, Be Gracious

No one likes sour grapes. Empathize with your client. Convey understanding and appreciation of the decision. Offer to help in every way possible to ensure a smooth transition of the assets. Ask if you can provide referrals/suggestions. Let the client know how much you value the relationship. Genuinely thank the client for the opportunity to invest on behalf of their entity and participants. Let them know you would welcome the chance to work together again in the future.

4. Keep the Relationship Alive

Stay in touch with periodic visits, calls and written communications. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Management committee members and objectives change. Send meaningful, relevant information – anything that will help your contact(s) do their jobs better. Reinforce the value of maintaining a relationship with you and your firm. Be professional, persistent and patient. Avoid “selling.” Be a valued resource. Even if you fail to keep or win back lost clients, you increase your chances of keeping them as allies, and potentially as referral sources.

5. Attract Clients Who Are a Good Fit

The real secret to maximizing client retention is to attract clients who are a good long-term fit. That means:

  • Providing solutions that fulfill specific and changing client needs
  • Making sure clients clearly understand what you are providing and have realistic expectations
  • Confirming that the client’s investment time horizon is compatible with your own
  • Avoiding negative surprises
  • Putting clients’ interests first
  • Exceeding expectations in every way possible

“Know what your customers [clients] want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”

~ Kevin Stirtz

Do you have any tips or suggestions for Winning Back Lost Clients? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following us!


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.

Seven Tips for Organizing Successful Client Events

Client conferences and breakfast/lunch seminars are excellent forums for asset managers to deepen client relationships, showcase their firms’ intellectual capital and raise the visibility of a greater number of team members. Organizing and hosting these events, however, can be time-intensive and expensive. You want to make sure the events are well-attended, clients find the time valuable and the results warrant the investment.

Here are Seven Tips to help ensure successful events.

1. Know Your Objectives

What do you want to accomplish by hosting a client event? Perhaps it is retaining clients during a period of underperformance. Showcasing your firm’s intellectual capital. Introducing new team members and/or new investment offerings. Learning more about your clients’ interests, needs or concerns. Defining your objectives in advance will help you organize an event that attracts clients and accomplishes your specific goals at the same time.

2. Assign a Strong Project Manager

Every detail matters. Having a proficient project manager who manages the event planning and implementation, timeline and follow-up is essential. A well-run event is a reflection of a well-run asset management firm.

3. Create an Engaging Agenda with Timely, Relevant Topics

Provide your clients a list of topics you are considering, and invite them to submit additional topics they would like you to address. You will then be able to prioritize topics of greatest interest to clients. Include a combination of internal and external speakers whenever possible. Invite external speakers who will be a strong draw. Avoid salesy commercials for your firm or traditional strategy presentations.

Schedule the right amount of time and frequency – generally 1½ days for a client conference, and 2 to 2½ hours for a breakfast or lunch seminar. Every other year is generally ideal for conferences. Regional seminars in cities where you have concentrations of clients can be scheduled annually. Institutional clients and consultants receive a lot of invitations and are selective about those they attend. It is always best to avoid times when other big industry conferences are being held.

4. Communicate and Inform

Use a multi-dimensional approach. Inform clients in advance with “save-the-dates” and formal invitations. During meetings and calls with clients in the months preceding the event, have client service and sales professionals encourage clients to attend. Internally, communicate the event, objectives, internal roles and responsibilities, and clients attending to event participants and to all employees. Communicate details firm-wide about any clients who may also be visiting your offices. Prepare all employees to be welcoming, professional, gracious and helpful.

5. Prepare

Prepare “welcome” bags with appropriate gifts (e.g., books authored and signed by event speakers, sunscreen if event is held in a sunny location, snacks, etc.). Elicit ahead of the event any special needs of clients who will be attending (e.g., handicap access, dietary preferences, transportation, reporting requirements for value of meals, etc.). Be sure these needs are addressed.

Have presenters practice both presentation content and delivery. Test all technology and equipment. Ideally, have all the presenters rehearse in the event venue using the technology (e.g., slide advancer, laser pointer, teleprompter, etc.). The more natural and conversational the presenters are, the better. Moving around on the stage rather than standing behind a lectern is optimal for engaging with your audience.

6. Maximize Opportunities to Interact with Clients

Create an event that is as interactive as possible. Encourage audience questions and engagement. Use audience members’ names and your colleagues’ names, and smile! Ask relevant questions using electronic, real-time polling tools to show results (for larger forums). If the event is held off-site, invite clients to visit your office before or after the event. Assign a “concierge host” for each client. Time permitting, give an office tour and introduce as many of your team members as possible. Offer meetings with portfolio managers and other members of your team. Learn if any clients would enjoy social interactions.

7. Debrief and Follow-Up

Schedule a date for the internal team to discuss what worked well and what would have made the event, presentations, venue, and logistics better. Did you achieve your objectives? Invite client feedback on the event. Ask what they found most valuable. What would have made the event better? What topics would they like addressed at future events? Thank them for their time and participation, and send a summary of key take-aways from the event. Also provide any specific follow-up requested by clients during the conference or office visit/tour.

“Every contact we have with a client influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” ~ Kevin Stirtz

Do you have any tips or suggestions for organizing successful client events? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following us!


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.

Resources to Hone Your Communication Skills: 2016 Edition

Charnley & Røstvold has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of investment industry professionals over the past three decades helping them prepare their content and delivery for a variety of scenarios, including:

  • Introductory prospect meetings
  • Final presentations
  • Due diligence meetings with consultants
  • Client retention meetings
  • Client cross-sell meetings
  • Team presentations
  • Individual speeches or board presentations
  • Client conferences

When coaching investment and distribution professionals alike, those who have advanced the furthest and become stellar communicators share several attributes: ongoing commitment to improvement, receptiveness to constructive coaching, willingness to rehearse, and initiative. The results – a bounty of new clients, accounts and assets won; multi-millions of dollars of accounts and assets retained; increased number of favorable consultant rankings; and higher win ratios. Preparation makes a difference. So does attitude.

People often ask us to suggest books and resources with valuable insights for enhancing content and communication skills. Below are some of our favorites.

Books

  • TED Talks: The Official Ted Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson
  • Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, by James C. Humes
  • Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds
  • Think on Your Feet, by Keith Spicer, Ph.D.
  • It’s All in Your Delivery, by Terri Sjodin
  • Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority, by Caroline Goyder
  • Power Questions, by Andrew Sobel

Videos

  • Ted Talks (www.ted.com/talks) are a valuable example of brief presentations by strong presenters (in particular, Amy Tan and Susan Cain)
  • Steve Jobs, a master!

Articles and Speeches

  • “Your Speaking Voice,” by Toastmasters
  • “Creating a Voice with an Executive Presence,” by Kate Peters
  • “How to Give a Presentation that Wows,” by Bill Blasé
  • “Proper Breathing in Public Speaking,” by Katherine Axtell
  • “Dialog vs. Divalog: Listening for Greater Impact as a Speaker,” by Kate Peters (www.katepeters.com)
  • “Overcoming Speaking Anxiety in Meetings & Presentations,” by Lenny Laskowski
  • “The Eloquent Woman,” by Denise Graveline
  • “Stop the Run-On Sentence in Public Speaking,” by Nancy Daniels
  • “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” by Amy Cuddy

Blogs and Other On-Line Sources

Regular Practice Forums

  • www.toastmasters.org Toastmasters provides one-hour practice sessions once a week that strengthen your body language, voice modulation and overall presentation delivery skills significantly. The practice sessions also help you pay closer attention to your language choice and raise your comfort level in communicating with people.

Vocabulary Builders

Do you have favorite resources for insights on enhancing your communication skills to suggest? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following us!


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.

Maximizing Institutional Investment Product Specialist Success

The Product Specialist role has gained a prominent, valuable place in the institutional investment management arena. These professionals enhance an asset manager’s client, consultant and new business initiatives. They leverage the time of investment professionals by spearheading or contributing to a spectrum of responsibilities, including:

  • Serving as a proxy for investment professionals in client review meetings, consultant meetings and prospect presentations
  • Acting as a liaison between investments and distribution
  • Leading new product development
  • Writing investment commentaries
  • Developing thought leadership pieces, webinars, blogs, etc.
  • Conducting internal educational and training sessions
  • Attending and speaking at industry conferences and forums
  • Overseeing RFPs and database updates
  • Providing quality control in reviewing client reports, prospect presentations, and other materials and media (e.g., website and/or database content)

The role comes with a variety of titles – Product Specialist, Client Portfolio Manager (CPM), Asset Class Specialist, Portfolio Specialist, Investment Specialist, etc. Just as the titles and responsibilities vary from firm to firm, so does the effectiveness of different Product Specialists and CPMs. It can be challenging to overcome the preference of clients, consultants and prospects to meet with a portfolio manager.

Five Keys to Success

Following are important variables and attributes that enhance the credibility and success of Product Specialist professionals.

  1. Relevant Credentials and Qualifications
    More than ten years of institutional investment industry experience is generally required. Many of the top Product Specialists and CPMs have 20+ years of experience. An MBA and CFA are preferred. Depending on the asset management firm’s client base and target markets, other credentials and certifications (e.g., CPA, JC, CIMA, Series 7, 63/65 or 66, etc.) can be beneficial as well. Individuals who have a portfolio management, consultant or plan sponsor background are ideal. They usually take the role further faster than sales or client service professionals who transition into the role. Professionals in this role must be willing to travel and have a deep understanding of the competitive landscape. Not only should they personify the portfolio manager, but the investment firm as well.
  2. Outstanding Communication Skills
    Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential. As subject-matter experts, Product Specialists must be able to articulate the investment process and portfolio strategy, and to discuss specific portfolio holdings and performance attribution as well as, if not better than, the portfolio managers. Product Specialists must be able to engage clients, consultants and prospects in strategic discussions. They must excel at eliciting and addressing needs, interests and concerns. Proficient writing skills are mandatory to contribute to messaging, marketing materials, presentations, investment commentaries, thought pieces and other written communications.
  3. Reporting Lines Directly to Investments
    The most effective Product Specialists sit with, report to and are respected by investments. They are fully engaged with the investment team, short of making investment decisions. They attend investment meetings, review trades and know the portfolios. Having Product Specialists report to distribution, as some firms do, can be an impediment. In a distribution-led structure, Product Specialists are perceived as being in more of a sales role. Clients, consultants and prospects are less receptive to having them as a substitute for the portfolio manager. Whether a Product Specialist reports to the CIO or investment strategy portfolio manager depends on the size of the asset management firm and the specified role of the individual. If the Product Specialist is a generalist by asset class, reporting to the CIO is more common. If the Product Specialist is focused on a specific strategy, they typically report to the lead portfolio manager on the strategy.
  4. Effective Teamwork
    To succeed, Product Specialists must have good working relationships and strong collaboration with virtually all functional areas in their firm – investments, marketing, client service, sales, administration, operations, compliance and business management. Effective teamwork is vital in marshalling an investment firm’s resources to provide optimum solutions and value to clients, consultants and prospects. Strong internal communication, enhanced by consistent use of a CRM system to document calls, meetings and activities, and to keep everyone informed, is a given.
  5. Proper Incentives
    Compensation structure and incentives aligned with the mission of the firm and the desired objectives for the Product Specialist role (e.g., client retention, enhanced consultant relationships and number of strategy approvals, closing sales, product development) are crucial. Incentives to foster teamwork between Product Specialists and professionals in other roles (e.g., sales, client service, consultant relations) must be in place as well.

Benefits of the Product Specialist Role

It is unrealistic to expect Product Specialists to replace portfolio manager interactions with clients, consultants and prospects completely. Product Specialists can, however, allow portfolio managers to travel less and to focus primarily on investment management. In addition to the potential for enhanced performance, benefits of the Product Specialist role include:

  • Stronger lines of communication among marketing, sales and investment teams
  • More comprehensive and regular interactions with clients, consultants and prospects
  • Increased opportunities for client retention and asset growth

What is your firm doing to maximize Product Specialist success? Please share your insights and comments below.

Stay engaged by following us.


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.

Cross-Selling to Deepen Client Relationships and Grow AUM

Successful cross-selling requires a long-term commitment, a multi-dimensional strategic initiative and alignment of your firm’s investment offerings with client needs.

Current clients and consultants where you have clients in common are the optimal target markets for multi-strategy investment firms to grow assets under management in a time-, resource- and cost-efficient way. Many institutional investors prefer working with a limited number of managers. Investment firms that have done a good job for clients in one area can take advantage of the “halo” effect to introduce other strategies.

What?

“Know what your clients want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”
~ Kevin Stirtz

Successful cross-sell campaigns are a collaborative effort between clients, and an investment firm’s management, investment, sales, client service and consultant relations professionals. Your firm will need to set realistic goals – overall, as well as by professional and investment strategy. To qualify likely cross-sell candidates, you must do your homework, which starts with analyzing your clients’ existing plans in terms of:

  • Investment objectives
  • Current asset allocation
  • Current managers and strategies
  • Managers on watch list and any replacement searches
  • Liabilities
  • Correlations
  • Restrictions
  • Risk profile
  • Challenges
  • Anticipated changes
  • What size allocations are appropriate
  • Consultant involvement
  • Any issues with current relationship

For each qualified cross-sell candidate, you need to outline a strategic plan with objectives, implementation strategy and time frame well defined.

When?

The client experience is the next competitive battleground.”
~ Jerry Gregoire

While an investment firm may achieve some cross-sells within the first year of launching the initiative, significant results require at least a three-year commitment and preferably one that is re-evaluated continually in perpetuity. At the three-year point, the client relationship expansion initiative typically becomes an integrated dimension of client service and of the firm’s business plan. Important components of an ongoing client and consultant cross-sell initiative are:

  • Ongoing dialogues with clients and consultants to elicit needs, and define ways your firm can help clients address a broader set of objectives
  • Prompt follow-up with relevant and valuable information to move the process forward
  • Engagement of and collaboration with internal resources to evaluate opportunities, challenges and potential solutions
  • Consistent written communications enlightening clients and consultants of your different offerings and benefits to an investment plan
  • Timely, relevant updates on the firm (e.g., new strategy launches, including early adopters, and role in and benefits for an investment program)

How?

Success is when opportunity and preparation meet.”
~ Bobby Unser

One of our clients organized an effective “Cross-Sell Competition” to set the foundation for a strong launch of the firm’s cross-sell initiative. At a quarterly sales meeting, they divided their sales, client service and consultant relations professionals into three teams. Each team was assigned a specific investment strategy that had been identified by management as a strategy with strong potential for cross-selling success. Each team was given 30 minutes to outline a cross-sell plan for the designated strategy. All the professionals reconvened as a group, and a spokesperson from each team presented the cross-sell plan for their assigned strategy. The presentations were followed by 15-minute debrief discussions where audience members provided further suggestions and asked questions. At the conclusion of all three, a panel of judges evaluated the three cross-sell plans against the following criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness of plan – Up to 25 points
  • Likelihood of success – Up to 25 points
  • Effective presentation of the plan – Up to 25 points
  • Responses to audience questions – Up to 25 points

The team with the most points earned an award. In addition, there were financial incentives for any cross sells made during the following 12 months. The firm’s cross-sells quadrupled from 9 the prior year to 36 during the 12 months following the competition.

Documentation, tracking and accountability are essential to maximizing outcomes of cross-sell campaigns. For example:

Cross-Sell Goals – Overall

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Cross-Sell Targets and Strategy – Sales/Client Services Professional

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Tracking overall progress is also valuable in assessing what is working and what are the challenges. Discussing progress, and eliciting ideas and recommendations from the broader group at least quarterly generally enhance success.

Who?

If you’re not serving the client, your job is to be serving someone who is.
~ Jan Carlza

Excelling at client service requires teamwork rather than relying on the efforts of just one person. Defining the proper incentives to align and motivate resources firm wide to contribute to successful client experiences, including involvement in appropriate cross-sells to clients, is key. You need to avoid developing silos of talent where professionals protect their interests over those of the clients.

After confirming with a client both the level of interest and time frame, the client service professional can set up an introduction to the portfolio manager or product specialist for the selected strategy. Optimal times for presenting additional strategies to clients are during client on-site visits to your office, update meetings on the existing portfolio, or meetings when the sales professional and portfolio manager for the selected strategy are going to be in a client’s town for another meeting. Generally, it is most effective to present alternative opportunities during a period of strong performance, and at the end of a client meeting after covering portfolio updates.

Key messages and benefits about the proposed strategy must be clear. In addition, you must be prepared with concise, direct, positive responses to likely questions and objections encompassing the following:

  • The firm
  • Strategy investment team and other investment mandates they manage
  • Investment process encompassing idea generation, portfolio construction, sell disciplines and risk management
  • Portfolio composition
  • Benchmark
  • Fees

Why?

The benefits of a well-orchestrated, consistently implemented cross-sell initiative are many:

  • Deeper client relationships
  • Better understanding and fulfillment of broader client needs
  • Enhanced client relationship tenure
  • Leverage of client service and sales resources
  • Increased potential for growth in assets under management

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.