The Investment Management industry has witnessed secular changes in structure, pricing, and asset flows. Covid-19 has placed further pressure as new mandates will be reduced, fund flows will be limited, and assets may shift to safer and even lower fee strategies. As a result, the key focus areas for investment managers in the medium to long term emphasizes the need to deepen market and competitive intelligence for product design & development.
However, a rapidly evolving market and the need for focused and near real-time and information dissemination to sales and investors has increased both information volume and complexity for Investment Managers (IMs). IMs rely on structured intelligence to achieve differentiation against their competition. They also need to streamline the process to make it efficient and fast.
Several investment managers have implanted in-house intelligence platforms (such as SharePoint-based platforms) that act as knowledge management platforms capable of storing large volumes of content. However, these platforms lack structured intelligence that enables strategy, product, sales, and distribution teams.
The foundation of an effective and impactful digital market intelligence platform needs to be formed on the following five pillars:
- Drive collaboration at the enterprise level
- Track key strategic themes centrally
- Transform qualitative data into quantitative dashboards
- Aggregate different types of content formats
- Accelerate the research and insights process
Drive collaboration at the enterprise level
Despite investment managers having multiple teams conducting research and generating insights, knowledge acquired by strategy, product development, marketing, sales & distribution, and client servicing can still remain siloed.
Key signals can be spotted via digital marketing data (client interactions via social media and other channels), survey data, fund performance data, portfolio composition, performance and volatility among others. Client intelligence provides an understanding of evolving investor preferences. Thematic insights (e.g. ESG, FinTech, and regulations) provide a focused view on emerging trends and impact on investment products and investor behavior. Competitive analysis can help design a differentiated investment product or strategy.
When developing new investment products, all of these information assets would need to be leveraged with collaboration between product development, insights, marketing, and client servicing teams. An effective digital marketing & competitive intelligence (MI/CI) platform can help achieve this by creating ‘one version of the truth’, which integrates all research and intelligence initiatives, and insights generated and utilized by various teams at an enterprise level.
Track key strategic themes centrally
Several secular themes like ESG/Sustainability, fintech, product innovation and regulatory developments are continuously affecting the investment management marketplace. It is critical for investment managers to keep track of any developments so they can act quickly.
This requires tracking a number of sources of information on a real-time basis, analyzing unstructured information to identify actionable insights, and disseminating these insights in an intuitive format.
A holistic MI/CI platform should be able to integrate and compile data from a number of sources and disseminate insights as per the needs of specific business functions, including new alerts on critical events, in-depth analysis on specific topics, and interactive dashboards to identify and analyze trends over time. This will enable strategy, product development, sales, and client teams to anticipate and act upon potentially disruptive forces.
Quantify qualitative data into quantitative dashboards
Several datasets collected by investment managers are qualitative in nature, which oftentimes provide in-depth insights. Such qualitative and usually unstructured information is not only difficult to process, but it also does not render itself to additional analysis. As a result, insights are restricted to a ‘point in time’ and the conclusions are presented in either a bulky and static PowerPoint deck or in an Excel spreadsheet.
For example, investment products targeted at retail investors are continuously evolving. Investment managers may change the minimum investment criteria or underlying fees to drive sales or adapt to investor needs. Tracking competitors’ product features, pricing, target investor segments, investor preferences, etc. can provide a rich source of information to design new investment products or formulate a response to competitor moves.
An ‘insights focused’ MI/CI platform should enable an investment manager to transform large sets of qualitative content into easily digestible quantitative dashboards. This will allow strategy and product teams to slice and dice through competitive trends in real-time and accelerate their market response.
Aggregate different types of content formats
Market and competitive intelligence for investment managers reside in several shapes and sizes including PowerPoint presentations (market factbooks, thematic research on investor segments or on specific topics, etc.), dashboards by digital and analytics teams (performance of investment channels and products, campaigns, sales & distribution teams, investor segments, etc.), spreadsheets (covering monthly fund flows and AuM data), news feeds, and syndicated research procured from different providers.
Incompatible content formats reside on different platforms, servers, email, etc., and a significant proportion of intelligence may not be easily accessible to many stakeholders. A MI/CI platform that can aggregate all content formats centrally enables product, marketing, sales, and client teams to have a 360° view of the industry, competitors, and consumers.
Accelerate the research and insights process
Traditional market and competitive intelligence research processes are predominantly manual in nature. This can result in considerable bandwidth being spent on data collection instead of generating insights and can in-turn lead to higher turnaround time.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate research processes accelerates the time to market and enables the research team to use their domain expertise to augment the automated datasets and news feeds.
Insightsfirst is Evalueserve’s proprietary cloud-enabled MI/CI platform for investment and wealth managers that:
- Enables centralized access to enterprise-wide MI/CI
- Leverages RPA and AI to streamline the research process
- Combines syndicated research with bespoke analysis
- Integrates multiple deliverable formats in a single platform
A Future of Evolving Intelligence
Currently, IMs are scrambling for market and competitive intelligence that aligns with their strategic priorities and provides actionable insights that cut across business functions. The IMs that are able to structure and digitize their intelligence initiatives are able to stay ahead of the competition and make their processes streamlined and flexible.
Digitizing the intelligence function needs to evolve from simply creating a central knowledge repository to establishing a platform that provides a 360° view and turns thoughts and data into action. In the age of data-overload, having a strong sense of direction will enable you to act at the right time.