How J.P. Morgan Serves Up The ‘Next Best Content’

J.P. Morgan Asset Management has a well deserved reputation for its content prowess, including the Quarterly Guide to the Markets and its many iterations.

Thanks to a vendor-organized Webinar last week, we now have a better idea of the thinking behind the digital experience that the content is used to support.

Below is a screenshot of the 58-minute “Asset Management: The Digital Transformation” presentation featuring idio CEO Ed Barrow and J.P. Morgan’s Global Head of Digital Experience Tom Libretto. It’s not embeddable so you’d have to click on the image or this link to go to the idio page and watch.   

Before you do, I’ll share a few of my notes.

The first 20 or so minutes from Barrow are broad and bounce around a bit. Some of his comments and generalizations throughout may test your patience. (Example: “Clients no longer trust past performance and Morningstar ratings to make investment decisions.”) And, there are more than a few idio product plugs. But hang in there for Libretto’s insights.

Too Much Content?

In the asset management industry overall, Libretto said, “The reality is that we don’t need to produce as much content as we do. We need to understand more and more what types of content, in which formats, wrapped around what type of context, are going to compel a client to engage and take the next step with us.”

Content Planning

At J.P. Morgan, “before there’s heavy investment in content production, we do the due diligence to determine what the objectives of the content need to be or are, and how the content will or won’t be promoted,” he said.

Editorial meetings include regular discussions akin to television programming (e.g., “how many slots do you have to fill?”). That forms the basis for an editorial calendar view of what’s available, identification of formats and syndication opportunities across distribution channels. 

Libretto repeated Barrow’s use of the word “surgical” to characterize how the team determines which formats—including “word counts, font sizes, graphical cues or peeks of content—are capable of driving interest. All of those things are part of the content continuum as we convert from raw material into a digital experience.”

“Emotional conversations” about what content gets produced are avoided by use of a scoring system, according to Libretto. “So,” he said, “when something hits a threshold and we all feel it’s compelling enough to promote, we have the resources to promote that output”—which they do across a multitude of paid and content syndication distribution points.

Data Leads To Content Intelligence

Most fascinating was how J.P. Morgan is merging, cleansing and aggregating its estimated 45 to 50 data sources, as well as buying third-party data, for the purpose of modeling the role that content plays.

In addition to the legacy nature of some systems and system redundancy, the sheer volume of data is a challenge. Libretto’s approach is aimed at determining which types of interactions—face-to-face meeting, Web visit, app open, transaction, etc.—matter and which don’t. Sequence is a focus, too.

To be able to isolate and correlate interactions that are leading indicators to a near-term business transaction provides “a much, much smaller, tighter set of interactions to optimize your strategies around. You can almost discount the others [he estimated that about 90% of the data could be ignored] or use them for other purposes to enhance the client journey,” Libretto said.

The idio solution is one of the tools that J.P. Morgan has begun to use to provide 1)contextual relevance for the content consumer and 2)real-time actionable insight for the firm.

idio’s contribution is on what can be learned from the content being consumed by a visitor to the J.P. Morgan domain. Topic interests are gleaned from the various content pieces accessed, and referred to for the purpose of building a profile that seeks to understand the visitor’s challenges and predict in real-time the next content to offer.

The slide above provides a look at how previous content and conversions drive “next best” content or action recommendations, although few specifics were given. 

idio provides a "data source on which to fire a variety of next step actions, whether it be dynamic content rendering of the next piece of Web content or firing an alert to a salesperson that we have high conviction that somebody who just read something—in combination with other interactions we’ve seen come through over the last n periods—means that a meeting should be queued up sooner or later," Libretto explained.

Why Facebook’s New Search May Prompt A Review Of What You’re Posting There

Facebook, the behemoth social network known for being a “walled garden,” has been an object of mystery and curiosity.

It’s easy to understand its appeal to financial advisors as a friction-free way to communicate with clients. And, most of those interactions may be none of the mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketer’s business.

But Facebook is also an estimable platform for discovering and passing along content—investment-related content included. (See this post for an analysis of the level of financial services content currently being shared, and the dominant brands.)

Financial advisors use content as their social currency. Putnam’s latest social media research reported that Facebook plays a “very significant role in current marketing efforts” for four out of 10 advisors (see post). Almost three-quarters (73%) said they posted business content to Facebook.

Exactly what content is being posted and shared, and by whom? Each Facebook account sees its own feed, of course, but to date there has been no view into the content collection. Those garden walls were too high to peer over.

Facebook’s decision last week to make all of its 2 trillion public posts available via a tabbed search capability changes that. It instantly makes Facebook a whole lot more interesting for the search-aware content marketer.

Market Volatility Search

With billing no less than "find what the world is saying," Facebook Search FYI is a new, rich resource to become familiar with.

I’ve previously mentioned the value I get out of Twitter’s Advanced Search, in part because it enables a filtering of tweets only “from people you know.” The new Facebook search one-ups that. 

A Facebook search will now produce a results page personalized based on 200 factors including what you like and engage with, what you’ve searched for, and information they've collected about your identity. The Top tab (which is the default) produces the most relevant results for the account.

According to a TechCrunch post, the results are organized “to highlight posts from trusted news sources, followed by people in your network, lists of the most popular links or quotes about a topic, and then strangers.” The images below were prepared by Facebook to illustrate the search results on a smartphone. 

Here's a quick review of where I see the added value.

Listening And Learning

Now you can plug into what’s being said on Facebook, and what you learn can influence your content positioning and development, including search engine optimization and pay-per-click keyword planning.

Example: Facebook claims to process 1.5 billion searches a day (that's about half of what Google handles) and that’s the basis for its assisted search. When I typed in the most generic of terms—“mutual funds”—Facebook reveals that “mutual funds vs” is a frequently searched term. Hmm...

Mutual Funds Assisted Facebook Search

The Latest tab is where Facebook takes Twitter head on. Twitter has been the go-to source for tracking what people are talking about right now, and that is what’s now delivered in the Latest tab. I find these results much less relevant on broad terms. Hashtag searches can get you to what you want to see, but keep reading. 

For Demonstrating Topic Relevance

Previously, posting to Facebook truly has been like dropping a teaspoon of matter down a black hole—good luck to anyone ever finding it. In fact, the joke’s been made that even those who aren’t diligent about their privacy settings have enjoyed "privacy through obscurity."

(This Search changes that and if you don’t want your own past posts showing up in search results, head on over to Facebook's Settings/Privacy/Privacy Settings and Tools.)

Assuming content-sharers make use of the new functionality and financial advisors in particular come to rely on it too, Facebook could be a powerful place to post on a fast-breaking topic and be noticed.

For asset management marketers, this may prompt a review of what’s being posted to Facebook.

Not Just The Soft Side Of What You Do

It’s a best practice to select content appropriate for each social network, and Facebook has tended to attract asset managers’ soft-side community posts. But things change.

For example, Cogent Reports reported in August that Facebook is the top business and financial news source for millennials. 

If users begin to rely on the Latest tab to search for investment-related updates, you are going to want your firm to be represented. 

But here’s the hitch I found in limited testing this week. I maintain a custom list of Asset Managers’ Facebook pages, which is a signal to Facebook that your content is important to me. While my keyword searches surfaced mutual fund/ETF firms’ updates in my Top tab (personalized to me), I don’t see your updates in the Latest tab.

For example, my search for #ETF produced this AdvisorShares post, along with posts from Scottrade, Investopedia and Wyatt Investment Research, in the Top feed. 

“@PeritusAsset: #HighYield softer again despite >$800M of inflows & only 2 new issues. Equities, oil, gold, treasurys all higher. #ETF”

Posted by AdvisorShares on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

None of those posts from "Financial Planning" or "Business/Economy" Websites appear in the Latest tab search results, however. Do a search for #ETFs and you’ll see a collection of unrelated updates about tattoos and such—not relevant, not helpful.

As a second example, a hashtag search of #BudgetDeal is a timely topic that asset managers might have produced content on and may even be tweeting about. In fact, I saw a few posts from Allianz's Mohamed El-Erian.

Good morning.FYI, the Wall Street Journal on “tentative deal” between White House and congressional leaders on “...

Posted by Mohamed A. El-Erian on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

But overall the #BudgetDeal discussion on Facebook is being dominated by what I'll call posters representing the fringe—it and the discussion of other investment topics could use the contribution of mainstream investment firms’ and Main Street financial advisors.

As has been well documented, Facebook is notorious for trimming the free publishing capabilities of brands. They have no intention of giving away what they could charge businesses for.

You could achieve your objective to get in the Latest tab feed if you could post updates from an individual’s (strategist or portfolio manager) account. This Kevin O'Leary (O'Shares ETFs founder and Shark Tank host) post from August appeared in a Latest search for #ETFs, for example.

Learn about O'Shares Investments and my newest #ETFs @ my live webinar. 11 am on Aug 26th, exclusively on ETFdb.com &...

Posted by Kevin O'Leary on Friday, August 21, 2015

But wrangling to get access to an individual's Facebook account may be a whole ‘nother hornet’s nest—see this post for a discussion of related issues.

If brand content won't appear in the Latest tab, the opportunity for content discovery via Search shrinks. Even then, though, the option may be to resume "Follow us on Facebook" campaigns to assure that your firm has a place in followers' Top tabs.

An Opportunity For Investment Videos?

As I mentioned last week, investors say they’re being influenced by videos but whose videos and how are they being discovered? In the testing I did, there seems to be ample opportunity for asset manager or financial advisor content to surface on investment term searches in the Videos Search tab. Evidently, the Videos tab doesn't filter brand content.

For example, I searched for "rising interest rates" via the Videos tab. It was good to see a month-old Franklin Templeton video show up on top. Now that’s more like it!

Franklin Templeton Rising Interest Rates Image

Check out Facebook Search and see what you think the potential is. 

Need To ‘Move The Needle’? Some Metrics For You To Consider

The 2015 asset management marketer finds himself or herself thinking much more about Sales. That’s a good thing, you might agree.

When senior management expresses the conviction that “marketing should be moving the needle,” there can be no doubt what that means: Marketers increasingly need to be able to draw a line between funded marketing activities, sales and overall business results.

The mandate to demonstrate results typically starts with marketers getting more involved in the tracking of sales contacts and communicationsincreasingly via a CRM/marketing automation combinationand progression through a sales cycle.

This expectation represents a stretch in a few directions for today’s typical mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketer. For example, Marketing’s participation is often despite any formal grounding in Sales management or theory. We are largely a self-taught bunch.

So, when the Twitterverse directed me to The Essential List of Sales Metrics published by the RAIN Group last month, I thought I’d mention it to you here. Below is a screenshot of the partial list, you'll find the entire list and PDF on the RAIN Group site

The organization of the list—by strategy, structure, operations, talent management, capabilities, enablement and motivation—might itself be helpful. The Enablement category is most on-point for fund, retirement and institutional marketing although other metrics (e.g., adoption rate of CRM) may be relevant, too. Lead generation has its own subsection.

Consult with care, however. In its entirety, this list is likely overkill for your organization and definitely for the role you play. You wouldn’t want to initiate a conversation, for example, by proposing an “Overall cost of replacing a seller” metric.

Historically, the asset manager CRM was developed for Sales' use only. In order for it to capture what's needed to measure Marketing’s contribution, your Sales/CRM partners need you to step up. See whether this list inspires your consideration of how your work adds value that can be tracked and measured. 

The Rise Of Advisor Teams

Count on the financial advisor “team” construct to throw a wrench in the best-laid plans of strategic mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketing.

In a perfect world, marketers would be able to use an integrated marketing automation/customer relationship management (CRM) system to link financial advisor response to marketing communications for sales follow-up, and overall sales and marketing reporting.

Teams confound attribution and analysis—the individual who sees and interacts with emails and Websites is not always the same person who:

  • Conducts investment product due diligence
  • Meets with wholesalers
  • Makes the go/no go decision
  • Ultimately enters the order

However, firms that want their advisor partners to succeed—and you know you do—will need to figure out a way to combine the communication and product usage data of multiple professionals to measure overall sales and marketing effectiveness. Because a whitepaper released by Pershing last week makes clear that advisors are prospering in teams. 

 published last week by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company

published last week by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company

The rise of teams, also referred to as “ensembles,” may be even more of a challenge for broker-dealers, according to Pershing.

“Although advisory teams generate significant revenues, broker-dealers are still working to understand them. Often their affiliation models—from compensation to relationship management—still treat advisors as reps, rather than as talented groups,” Pershing says in Why Teams Are the Client of the Future for Broker-Dealers

See if the below passage (click to enlarge) sounds familiar.

Teams Have Larger Relationships, Grow Faster

While Pershing prepared the 24-page report to help broker-dealer clients adapt, it includes plenty of insights for asset managers. I recommend that you read it in its entirety. What follows are just a few noteworthy points the paper makes.

  • Teams are prevalent across all business models, according to data in a 2013 WealthManagement.com compensation survey cited by Pershing. Today's numbers would be higher, presumably.
  • The average productivity of advisors who are part of an ensemble team or firm was almost 12% higher ($565,000) than those practicing on their own ($505,000), based on data from the Pershing-sponsored 2014 InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study.
  • The typical $2 million ensemble firm grew at a rate of 17.1% in 2014 compared to 13.7% for solo practices.
  • “The size of the average client relationship appears to be a perfect function of the size of the firm, i.e., the larger the firm, the larger the average relationship,” Pershing says.

According to the report, firms with less than $1 million in revenue have the smallest client relationships with less than $4,932 in revenue per client (total revenue divided by the total number of clients). “Super-ensembles” attract clients with revenues three times higher (between $14,937 and $16,362 on average).

  • Today’s typical advisory team is three times larger than it was in 2001.
  • Close to 40% of the ensemble firms in the 2014 InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study are looking to acquire and merge other practices.
  • Broker-dealers that fail to adapt to ensemble firms are vulnerable to losing them to RIA-only or hybrid business models. 

Pershing cites the 2013 FSI Broker-Dealer Financial Performance and Compensation Study to quantify what's at risk: “...Much of the revenue broker-dealers lost in 2013 came from the loss of top-producing advisors: the average firm lost six relationships with over $500,000 in productivity each. If broker-dealers could stop the ‘bleeding’ of large relationships, this alone would increase their rate of growth by 50%.”

What all has to change in your firms practices in order to adapt?

This Time It Was Different!

Bravo to all the investment company marketers who dropped everything this week in order to orchestrate (whether writing, editing, routing, cajoling) a stream of market and even some product communications to an information-hungry following.

Having tracked the industry's real-time response (shallow and slowsee this post from way back when) to the seemingly much worse September 2008 turmoil, I’ve spent the week marveling at the output prompted by the August 2015 market swoon. It was a quarter’s worth of work in a week, and it has been magnificent.

What explains the difference in response this year from seven years ago?

Keep Calm And Communicate

Firms today are much better equipped to communicate in fresh, short bursts. Everything that’s been done—all the scoping and planning and building of a content publishing infrastructure—has led to this moment. Advisors, investors, the media all turned to their online news sources and (many of) you were there.

Of course, you accepted invitations to television and radio programs and other places where your investment experts were invited, and you sent emails with PDF updates to the advisor names in your database. That's old school. Most impressively, you found a way to get yourselves to where others were online and you contributed to "the conversation." Yay for you and everyone on your extended teams.

I’ll leave others to react to the substance of what your firms had to say. The notes below focus on what you did. 

Tweets, Obviously

Twitter, the pet platform for breaking market information, was the quickest, no-friction way for asset managers to communicate.

Starting on Friday, market-aware tweets were posted to deliver simple messages to investors, and to notify advisors of hastily scheduled conference calls.

Firms used Twitter to circulate information—see how Fidelity’s Jurrien Timmer tweeted a New York Times graphic that the @Fidelity account and 21 others then retweeted. Isn't it great to be part of a village?

I happen to love how Nuveen’s Bob Doll used Twitter to provide some added info around a CNBC tweet quoting him.

Nuveen Bob Doll Tweet.JPG

Those Blogs Come In Handy, Don’t They?

It’s wondrous what can get done when there’s a publishing system in place, with a known process and identified roles and responsibilities.

Of the 50 or so asset manager blogs I subscribe to (see related post), maybe half had published a market-specific post by Wednesday. In fact, I was surprised by a few that didn’t (why launch a fund 30 days ago if you’re not ready to use it for this?).

Each firm has its own challenges, I get it. But for those with content benches, this was the time to show them off.          

It wasn’t a surprise that the Eaton Vance blog was all over what was happening, given that volatility is one of its three investing themes. The firm posted no fewer than 13 updates in the last three days (nine on Monday alone). And, they had some recent Advisor Top-of-Mind Index survey work (more content marketing!) to be able to cite.

Not everyone could whip up visuals on such short notice. This may be one of those rare times when all you needed were words.

Notable: The Columbia Management blog had a table at the ready listing crisis events since 1929. I’d show you but the warning on the site about further distribution discouraged me and probably others from sharing.

I’ll also call your attention to a little visual relief on the Guggenheim commentary, which doubled as a readymade (and provocative) tweet. Clicking on the callout goes to the @ScottMinerd tweet and five tweets responding. My former colleague and buddy Todd Donat tells me it’s just a matter of HTML playing nice with the style sheet.

Cut, Print And That’s A Wrap

I believe First Trust was first out of the gate Monday morning with a video report (unembeddable—click on the link to view). “Yes, it is a correction…” is about as unambiguous as it gets.

And the directness of the Nuveen video, Bob Doll again, is quite effective.

For Facebook, Photos

Asset managers also reached out on Facebook, appropriately so as it was recently reported that Facebook is the leading source of news for affluent millennial investors.

Content posted was mostly images with and without links, as shown in these Putnam and Fidelity screenshots.

Putnam Facebook Image

Did Any Of It Make A Difference?

There can be a bit of skepticism when people see Marketing types hustling around the office trying to get something out. Does any of it really matter?

Consider this: That Bob Doll video mentioned above? From Monday to the close of business Wednesday, it attracted about 800 views—easily more than 99% of the months-old videos on Nuveen’s YouTube channel.

Others from Northern Trust and Vanguard saw similar fast builds. Franklin Templeton’s video featuring Dr. Michael Hasenstab, recorded Tuesday and published Tuesday as the others were, was closing in on 1,200 views this morning.   

I haven’t mentioned LinkedIn yet. That’s because I saw just a few asset managers jump on it Monday or Tuesday. Those who did posted a few links and linked somewhere else or cross-posted their blog updates to their Company pages. My impression of this week's content on the Banking & Finance channel is that it was prepared well before the breaking news.

However, LinkedIn appears to have been the site of most sharing of asset manager content published elsewhere. I say this based on a spot-check of Buzzsumo data, and it's consistent with what we've seen previously.

Franklin Templeton really got the word out as its Macro View About Market Volatility post seemed to be everywhere I turned, including Advisor Perspectives. Courtesy of its blog, here's a look at where the two-day-old post was shared.

On Twitter, it was more about visibility versus retweets or favorites. Accounts may very well have grown this week, if only because of heightened tweeting. Few investment company accounts were using some of the more popular hashtags (#ChinaMeltdown and #selloff).

A decision may have been made to communicate with existing followers as opposed to using descriptive hashtags to garner attention. That’s debatable, and I would debate it. 

And Product Updates, Too

Product updates are tricky for mutual funds, especially on the very day the market is tanking and the fund has yet to be priced. Still, Wells Fargo found an elegant way for their portfolio managers to say something on Twitter.

In the glass half-full department, a few firms saw fit to comment on the "absence of volatility" among senior loan products.

Direxion has been publishing daily "notable activity" reports, including notable one-day creation and redemption activity. Granted, Direxion is a firm that offers products, for traders, that benefit when the market goes in either direction. Still, this is added data (screenshot below is an excerpt) that I don’t recall seeing published in 2008.  

Props also to @DirexionINV for using Twitter to acknowledge pricing issues. Other firms with Twitter accounts had problems, too, but didn't think to use the channel. When something's not working on a Website, Twitter is the first place many people think to look.

Many tweets directed to ETF providers and about ETF tickers went unanswered. Next time—and let’s hope it’s not as soon as next week—I’d look for ETF product providers to be more responsive in close to real-time. In the near term, I’m guessing many of you will be firing up stop-loss order explainers.

Finally, I’ll close this with a nod to @AdvisorShares, one of the most consistently entertaining asset manager accounts. To data only the CEO has retweeted it, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in appreciating this tweet.

Is it Friday afternoon yet?