Scoring the Digital Brands of Wealth Managers

Living Group recently completed our inaugural Wealth Manager edition of Living Ratings, a unique benchmarking report that evaluates the digital brand intelligence of the leaders in key financial and professional services sectors.  Assessing the websites and social media channels of the largest wealth managers in the U.S., we looked at how they engage with highly coveted individual investors online.  While their marketing efforts include potent websites, enhanced content, and focused digital communications, there is as much disappointment as there is surprise.  Larger players fall short in important categories and smaller contenders demonstrably punch above their weight.

Regardless of their current ranking, each firm in our Ratings report can seize the opportunity to improve their digital branding by investing in best practices that define online leaders across financial and professional services sectors.

The content imperative

In general, wealth managers offer digital touchpoints that succeed in attracting visitors, but fail to provide the necessary evidence to keep them engaged. Technical componentry such as responsiveness, speed, SEO and other metrics all pass muster. This is critical for not losing visitors – both prospects and clients alike. People are impatient and expect to find information easily and quickly. For the most part, wealth managers have ensured their digital user experience is painless and the majority stand apart from those stragglers who still frustrate their visitors with poor navigation options, endless links and irrelevant search results. The imperative for wealth managers, however, rests squarely on the content side of the equation, where thought leadership should be refined, refreshed, even re-animated to better engage target audiences.

As with so many specialized areas in financial services, wealth management generates huge (if not excessive) amounts of information that hungry investors want and need to know. While part of the challenge is streamlining what to deliver, there must be a heightened priority on the visual and verbal packaging. From guided navigation with its suggested links for related stories to the creative use of video and infographics, content better presented is content better consumed.

Purpose and relevance

On the social media front, wealth clients, like all audiences, expect messaging pushed at them to be purposeful and relevant. They will accept such messages as invitations to explore more with your brand, even consider a relationship with you – if what you ultimately deliver owns up to the promise of your social posts.

The majority of the wealth managers in our Ratings are classified as ‘Focused’ – a measure indicating that, despite the investment in their dotcoms, the impact of their content needs greater consideration – and frankly, fuller investment. Likewise, these firms, in general, need to make a more serious commitment to social media, strategizing the why of each channel, and embracing the notion that brand-building through CSR, recruiting, diversity, and culture goes a long way to selling products and services.

Difference matters

Whether a wealth manager has the advantage of being a standalone firm or resides inside a greater “brand house,” it must have a singular goal: to create a digital destination, supported by distinctive social media pathways, that will define the brand, spotlight its difference, and help drive its business strategy.

To read our full report and download the rankings of the 42 wealth managers in our Ratings report, visit the Living Group website.

by Kevin Windorf, Client Strategy Director, Living Group