Financial firms fail to score online

Leading asset managers may be experts at managing financial assets, but they are not so talented at making the most of their digital assets. According to the Living Ratings study called “In search of #DigitalAlpha: Digital content and communication in the world's leading asset managers”,  the majority of asset management firms are failing to differentiate themselves through either an effective digital presence, client-centric user experience, relevant branded content, unique visual branding or clear messaging.

However not all firms are squandering the potential of online, the ones that lead the way show what it takes to communicate effectively. Nick Smith, writer at communications agency Living Group, says: “Whether it’s websites or social media, the leading firms in our study are using branded content, client-centric user experience and dynamic functionality to enhance the digital corporate communications”. Yet only four asset managers succeed in using responsive web design features in their websites.

Many asset managers are also missing out on the power of social media, from LinkedIn to Google+. Smith says: “Just 50 per cent of asset managers social media channels are led by a client-centric approach to content. The others are dominated by self-promotion, industry accolades or employee communication.”

Looking at their websites, less than a third of asset managers provide a website that is optimised for mobile devices. In terms of SEO, over half of asset managers have no embedded keywords (the simplest type of SEO) in their home-page html coding.

Although the firms have over four million followers on LinkedIn and Twitter, many are failing to connect with these followers. Discussing Twitter, Smith says: “given Twitter’s popularity, it is surprising that just nine firms responded to a query we tweeted.”

Talking about other social sites, Smith adds: “With the prevalence of all prime social channels, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, it’s puzzling to find that less than a quarter of asset managers feature social media links on their website home page. This supports our view that there exists a clear disconnect between social media and web communication in the corporate space.”

All PROs know that content is key these days, but it appears this is a message that is not getting through to financial firms. Smith points out that the firms are failing to use basic methods of engaging their audiences: “Fewer than half of asset managers use the tools of design – engaging information graphics, typography, and imagery – to support the written word. They appear to forget that it’s Amazon’s Kindle that was designed for lengthy e-reading, not corporate websites.”


The Living Ratings study undertook detailed analysis of the top 50 asset management firms, from the IPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers June 2014. The research and analysis was undertaken in September and October 2014. There were nine categories of rating criteria, ranging from website functionality to social media influence.

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