Oct. 2015

Consistent v. Annoying Communications

As a former allocator, my “manager” email inbox is still frequently flooded with factsheets. These are consistent communications between managers (marketing and sales), intermediaries (consultants and financial advisors) and asset owners (institutions, funds of funds and individuals). Factsheets, when well crafted, are beneficial to everyone in the ecosystem. Funds are always seeking to keep communication lines open with prospects and clients, but there needs to be a mutualistic reason to do so. Without the benefits, frequent outreach is just annoying.


Producing a factsheet – quarterly or monthly – is a commitment. Once you start, the promise is made to continue updating all aspects. This presents great opportunity for managers to contact their clients, prospects and intermediaries that are valuable for all parties, or to look unprofessional and even potentially irritating. Fortunately, market dynamics demand performance updates, manager commentaries, performance analysis, basics of products, and other additional information that can be featured, and useful information in a factsheet.


The next marketing challenge is how it arrives. The cover note can be succinct and direct, or may point out a prominent change; such as positive movement in risk adjusted or relative performance. There may be an addition to the analyst team, or other material news. Some people send pdfs, others link to websites, and still others PURLs (personal urls). The sophistication of tracking behavior is now limitless. Understanding these simple yet critical information exchanges may help guide future contact, and the frequency of factsheet production.


For firms that have north of say, fifteen funds, automation is key. It gets your factsheets out faster, with perfect accuracy (which is the price of entry for managers), with the array of formats you need (e.g. web, PDF, app) generally painlessly. The need for speed, or time to market, facilitates competitive advantage. No one wants their quarterly updates for a fund of any type six weeks after the quarter ends; four or five days is more like it. There are hundreds of companies, such as ours, whose very purpose is to help create these vital communications. We strategize on information architecture, appropriate data and infographics, and of course design. The design needs to be compelling and appropriately representative of your firm and brand.


If you need help producing these calendar driven materials (time to make the doughnuts), firms like ours generally won’t help. Why? Updating factsheets for an agency is like a bad joke about going to hell and getting assigned to produce the same graphics over and over, which is almost as bad as developing a logo for a law firm with 50 equal partners. In 1997, I founded a firm named MasterApproach to automate factsheets (hedge funds, mutual funds, 401K providers, wrap fee programs, etc), as well as automated pitchbooks, research reports and responses to RFPs. I sold that firm to a public company in 2001 and shockingly, it was destroyed by its new parent.


Thankfully, today there are a handful of fintech firms that can address this critical task with 2016 technology. A firm we have come to know is Synthesis Technology. They are the MasterApproach of 2016, with the ability to automate a much larger set of marketing materials. My friend Emilie Totten runs marketing there. If you have too many funds to produce as the calendar dictates, we suggest reaching out to her and see how modern fintech is impacting investment and other financial marketing.



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