Money Management Institute, the leading voice for global financial services organizations, held its annual conference earlier this month in Dallas, Texas. Attended by scores of financial services professionals from across the country, the conference’s focus was on how the industry can transform the client experience to deliver better outcomes, create competitive differentiation, and propel growth. More specifically, this year’s conference set out to examine some of the innovative strategies, tools, and skill sets firms are deploying in this effort.

One clear take away that asset managers attending the conference walked away with is that they need to rethink their approach to sales. Why? Because in today’s environment of lower fees (or even zero fees in many cases), not to mention greater barriers to intermediary distribution (e.g., the fact that more advisors are using home-office-built models), they don’t have any other choice.

And it’s not just that. Other factors are conspiring to make sales a much more difficult proposition. These include the general transition to fiduciary advice and the fact that most brokerages are decreasing the number of managers that they have on their platforms. Simply put, the status quo approach to sales just doesn’t work any more. As a result, it’s essential that asset managers change their approach and look at new ways to revamp their sales model.

Underscoring the point, Lee Kowarski, the VP of Distribution Solutions at DST Systems, and one of the speakers at the conference, stressed “If you’re not thinking about how to change your distribution strategy, how to use data analytics, and how to leverage artificial intelligence… you’re not going to be here in five to ten years.”

Technology Empowers New Approaches to Sales (and Marketing)

To be a savvy asset manager in 2018 and beyond, firms need to rethink their approach to sales. Importantly, that means looking at using the right technology to make their business more efficient and effective. The idea is to automate time-consuming, manual tasks so that they can focus more of their efforts on higher value work and creating more personalized client experiences.

One area that’s ripe for innovation on this front is content creation and management. Over the past 15 years, content has become an increasingly important tool in every asset manager’s toolkit. It’s critical not just for communicating key information, but also fostering engagement, building trust, and helping asset managers differentiate themselves from competitors. As approaches to sales evolve, that promises to remain a constant.

But content creation and management have historically been very labor-intensive. Asset managers can spend far too much of their time pulling together client reporting and portfolio reviews, not to mention thought leadership pieces and general corporate communications. And then there’s the hassle of ensuring all of that content is up to date and compliant, and even just being able to find what you need when you need it. That’s time they’d be better off using to build new relationships and enhancing the ones they already have with existing clients.

Sales and marketing enablement tools offer a solution. They automate large parts of the content creation process, streamline compliance reviews, and deliver valuable analytics that yield deep insights into how content actually gets used. That way, content creation is not only a faster and more efficient process, it also yields insights into which assets are actually moving the needle. It’s an important step in helping asset managers pivot to a more effective approach to sales in today’s changing landscape.

Change Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

As the asset management industry continues to evolve, sales teams need to be armed with the right tools. Those tools need to not only match the latest distribution strategies, but also help position them as true partners that are capable of providing the kind of highly personalized experiences that today’s investors have come to expect.

Make no mistake, that’s no small fact. But, the good news is that embracing the right tools and technology will make it much easier for asset managers to revamp their sales efforts to meet the need. In the process, they’ll begin to work smarter, freeing up time and energy for creating better experiences for their clients. And that, without a doubt, will be a win-win for everyone involved.