Asset management has undergone a long period of disruption since the financial crisis ten years ago, but according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the industry’s reinvention.

PwC’s exhaustive study found that there will be far fewer firms managing far more assets in only five or ten years’ time. The difference between the firms that stand to succeed and those that don’t? Technology. Per a comment given to Business Insider on the report:

“There is a divide between asset and wealth managers who have acted to ensure they are fit for growth, and those who have not,” said Elizabeth Stone, UK asset and wealth manager at PwC. Firms must “embrace technology,” she said, which will “determine if they win or lose in this fast-changing landscape.”

One unmistakable conclusion to be drawn from the report is that, each year—each quarter, really—will be increasingly critical to the long-term prospects at major asset management firms. With this in mind, we have compiled three trends which, we believe, will come to define asset management marketing through the remainder of 2018.

We’re also taking your thoughts on the matter! If you work for an asset management firm, please take our 2018 outlook survey to tell us what you see happening. We will release the full findings later this month.

Artificial intelligence will serve to enhance marketers’ performance

We have all seen the occasional doomsday headline. However, when you dig in to the actual content of these articles, artificial intelligence leaders are really forecasting that these new technologies will serve mainly to enhance the productivity of workers and take rote, repetitive tasks off their hands in the near-future so that they can focus on more creative and valuable activities.

This will be particularly true for marketers at asset management firms. In 2018, we believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to increase the effectiveness and efficiency with which marketers can perform their tasks by automating activities like content distribution, tagging, and brand updates. With these activities off their hands, they will be able to further focus on applying themselves on campaigns that will have a larger and more direct impact on the bottom line.

Thought leadership activities come to the fore

A recent FundFire article (subscription required) notes the increased focus on thought leadership content among asset managers, such as opinion articles and whitepapers. The reason is that these educational pieces of collateral provide value to those reading it outside of a traditional product or service pitch. They also position the firm as an expert in their space, building trust among their client base.

Industry research or opinion pieces in trade magazines offer clients a new perspective on the firm and can be refreshing for those who have come to expect purely promotional marketing pitches. As Anu Heda, a partner at marketing consultancy Naissance Partners, notes in the article:

“If there’s an option to spend dollars on TV ads or whitepapers, 99% of the time they’ll pick the whitepapers.”

Regulation and compliance continues to be a top priority

Last year, the SEC made multiple updates to marketing requirements for asset managers, further signaling the need for transparency in client content and communications in 2018. Such new updates include a warning issued in September around investment decisions and fees, and an October update which requires that asset managers disclose the types of assets held in separately managed accounts.

These further underscore three key aspects of a marketing program which must have additional investment in 2018. First, there must be consistency in brand messaging; information about the firm that is presented by one team must be the same as what is presented by another. Second, with constant updates to important company information like AUM, marketing teams must have the technologies in place to ensure that such updates are reflected across all materials being used by relationship managers and at the moment such updates occur. Finally, there must be in place the ability to track what is being sent to which client and when, so that in the event there is a compliance question, they are easily able to track all communications and collateral.

The common thread running through all three of these trends is the increasing importance that technology will play to asset management marketers in 2018. Without a strategy that emphasizes implementing the right technologies to assist in productivity and effectiveness, firms risk losing clients and prospective clients to more forward-looking competitors in the near term, and risk being all together obsolete in the long term.

How are you approaching marketing and technology in 2018?