Blog How National Accounts can Position Their Firms to Win

Posted November 9, 2017 by Matthew Fronczke

National account teams are leading the distribution charge as asset managers battle severe headwinds in the intermediary wealth management market. Leading asset managers recognize their importance and are investing time, money, and resources to build a talented team of platform and product professionals.

It’s no secret the growth of managed accounts (fee-based) is having a major impact on the existing relationships asset managers have with their distribution partners. While there are many factors which have contributed to this growth – including regulation, technology, demographics, and new competitive entrants – the result is the amplified scrutiny of approved products and the increasing influence of model portfolios on advisor decision-making and investment selection.

Bottom-line: National Accounts – both platform development professionals and research analysts – are critical to the success of asset managers!

Many distribution organizations are taking action now. Here are a few takeaways from our recent National Accounts Roundtable.

National Account Managers are Sharpening Their Edges

Increasing expectations for what a distribution executive brings to the table is not unique to the wholesaler. National Account Managers, no matter their experience or tenure, are being challenged to “improve their game.” Both senior national account managers and less tenured members on the team are sharpening their technical and professional edges, by seeking advanced designations (CFA, CAIA, CIMA, etc.) and improving soft skills like presenting (due to the re-emergence of the quarterly business review). As broker-dealers continue to evaluate current relationships and reduce the number of fund families available on their platform, national account teams are responding by showcasing broader value outside the product their firm can offer.

FTEs: Average Firm 2015 2016 2017 Expected in 2018
Sr. National Account Managers 5.5 5.8 6.0 6.2
National Account Managers 2.7 3.1 2.6 2.9
Research Analysts 2.5 1.8 3.1 3.6
Other/Support Staff 2.3 3.6 3.6 3.8
Total FTEs 13.0 14.3 15.2 16.5
Source: DST Productivity insights

The Research Analyst Function is Expanding

As the research and due diligence teams continue to expand at the major broker-dealers, complete coverage of those teams increases in complexity and difficulty. The response from asset managers has been to build out their highly talented investment professionals (the research analysts) to go toe-to-toe with the broker-dealer research and due diligence professionals. The average team has three research analysts with most firms planning to add at least one additional analyst in 2018.

Internal Communication Must Improve

More and more institutional consulting organizations are being engaged by broker-dealers to assist in the manager due diligence and model portfolio construction efforts. As a result, the Consultant Relationship team is getting closer to the retail business. As the consultant influence over if, how, when, where, and why a product may or may not be available and whether it should be placed on a recommended list or used in a model portfolio continues to grow, the National Accounts and Consultant Relationship teams must more closely coordinate efforts so the “left hand knows what right hand is doing,” eliminating inconsistencies in messaging and ensuring there is a unified front to the client.

How National Accounts can Position Their Firms to Win illustrationSource: DST Research, Analytics, and Consulting, LLC

Data is Critical across the Asset Management Organization

We’ve discussed at length how data is foundational to the effectiveness and efficiency of sales and marketing efforts. We have not been vocal enough on data’s importance to the National Accounts effort as well. At its core, data is an integral part of the distributor prioritization effort. In order to effectively evaluate the economic health (profitability) and opportunity (demand) across broker-dealers, data must be utilized. The breadth of relationships won’t be as critical to future success as focusing on the right relationships.

We have stated before that the industry will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 30. The National Account executives attending our event universally agreed that continued change is inevitable. Increased consolidation and competition across multiple product and vehicle lines will continue to challenge asset managers. However, those who emphasis the importance of the National Accounts effort will stand a better chance of separating themselves from the pack.

Matthew Fronczke
Senior Executive Consultant
Research, Analytics, and Consulting

categories: data & analytics, distribution strategy, industry trends, national accounts, roundtable/events, wholesaler

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.

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