As part of a recent media related research project, I couldn’t help but notice that a fair number of supposedly ‘active’ fund management investment firms have yet to move beyond the static, print only, website. Instead of serving up a fresh platter, I was treated to last month’s leftovers. The thoughts that came immediately to mind were ‘inconsistent’, ‘complacent’ and ‘out-dated’. Not aligning the shop window with the brand is a sloppy way to do business, but it can be fixed with some planning.

A substantial risk for any financial services company, apart from Mr Rogue T. Rader, is the risk of losing its best people and/or not being able to attract them in the first place. A slick powerboat morphing into drifting plank-wood is all too easy if leadership and results are weak.

Yet, in a world where anyone with a smartphone can transform themselves into an instant content provider, capable of attracting a decent following of like minded people, many investment firms, including institutional money managers, have yet to buy-in to the concept of developing a credible and effective online content strategy, geared not only to inform and impress clients but, also to attract and retain the best talent for future growth.

Some investment firms, unlike consultants and accountants, are still anchored to the past. Rather than developing good web media content to demonstrate their thoughts, market nous and firm ethos, they are content to continue flexing their biceps (assets under management (AUM) and fund performance) to lure talent.

The advantage of good content extends beyond communicating the firm’s products or services to end clients or customers. It can communicate firm culture, values, skill and opportunity to a pool of skilled talent looking for the right role or the right company. Companies are always looking for the leaders and business drivers of tomorrow – but recruiting that exceptional person or team can be (a) challenging in the face of competing firms and (b) fraught with risks in terms of the right fit.

Having worked as a portfolio manager, managing a structured credit portfolio for over 10 years, I had the privilege of sitting across the table on nearly 1000 investor pitches from credit fund managers and issuers of asset-backed securities. Judging the suitability of an investment firm to manage $millions of our firm’s money involved face to face meetings, delving into past performance, sifting through biographies and ultimately a call on whether their people, process and infrastructure could deliver the results we wanted.

That analysis of suitability is not dissimilar to the research done by a professional seeking to assess whether Firm X is the right fit for them and can deliver across culture, opportunities and career development. The process is a fact-finding mission involving in-depth research. Just as a company recruiter will likely Google the candidate’s name and also check their social media presence – you can bet that the talent is clicking on the corporate website, LinkedIn and YouTube at least.

If they are looking at Blackrock or Pimco, they will be thrilled to see chapter and verse of what they have been doing and clear evidence of thought leadership. Taking a look at Pimco’s site for their recent ‘Case for Credit’ piece across print and video, it’s hard not to admire their conviction and professionalism. The result is soaring feelings of TRUST. For investment firms, trust is akin to a vitamin injection which nourishes the brand and AUM and helps talent acquisition. Other firms’ content varies greatly, but quite often what you see is bland, uninspiring and not frequently refreshed. A lost opportunity to build trust on your own website!

There are exceptions however. If you are a growing firm - you can grow both AUM and import top performers through acquisition. Firms like Apollo Global Management, LLC and Ares Management, L.P. have grown AUM at a breakneck pace over the past 8-10 years. Swashbuckling teams led by Leon Black (Apollo) and Michael Arougheti (Ares) are unlikely to be content with the story so far (since 2005, Apollo increasing credit assets by ~$120bn and Ares by ~$53bn) and will likely have a target to double the firm size again over the next 5 years. These ‘Get Busy Living’ firms have the vision and drive to build a truly scalable business that attracts like-minded individuals with similar ambitions. Although their online web content is basic – the achievement, momentum and romance are clear and the allure to work for these firms is undeniably strong. Differentiating these powerboats from rudderless drifters is not difficult, even in the absence of good online presence.

Posting a well-made corporate video is a good start to enhance your website visitor’s experience. However, just as you wouldn’t be sold on a TV series simply on the basis of the pilot episode, it is important to captivate the audience regularly to allow a fuller picture to emerge of the team, expert views, collaboration and leadership. For that you need a budget and high-level content strategy fully aligned with Management’s vision. Some powerboats can get away with it for now – but why risk devaluing the brand with a poor website? Just like the popular TV series – the aim is to keep telling a captivating story. Attracting the best talent will follow.

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Credit Manager Insight (the flagship brand of Creditmi Media Limited) is an online platform featuring curated media content, created in partnership with Fund Management companies, to deliver targeted market insights to institutional investors for enhanced brand recognition.