As our nation’s elected leaders debate the financial bailout and investors anxiously reset their expectations of their investments and plans, financial services marketing and communications will face heightened scrutiny. It’s unknown how the current situation will be resolved or when. But, it’s a safe bet that there will be a hue and cry for greater transparency and disclosure from all money-taking organizations.
Transparency and disclosure? That implies Web-delivered. In these days how companies appropriate their Web sites and prepare content to be syndicated for use on other sites will be a differentiatior. The investment management industry has invested millions in time and effort to build out tidy publishing platforms capable of supporting product stories and investor account access. Now is the time to tap the speed-to-market capability afforded by these platforms to support a continuous stream of relevant communications. (“Relevant” is the operative word here—companies with emails in the queue touting Morningstar rating updates may want to rethink either their timing or messaging. Many believe the financial world changed last week.)
A commitment to communicating portends additional collaboration and creativity between Marketing, Investment and Compliance groups in order to achieve greater transparency and disclosure while complying with the regulations (which no one believes will become less stringent!). IT, too, may need to be drawn in as Marketing favors richer media over HTML-based messages.
Having listened to several asset managers’ market podcasts over the weekend, I’d submit the Wells Fargo Advantage Funds’ On the Trading Desk as a best practice for transparency. The September 19 podcast featured Peter Nulty, writer and editor of Wells’ daily and Thomas J. Pence, Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager, Wells Capital Management, and included a review of the events of the tumultuous week and an outlook. It’s informal, engaging, informative and shows none of the stiltedness that can characterize much of our regulated communications. I almost forgot that the producer was an investment manager—well done!
The following articles are a sampling of what the media has had to say in the last few days about financial services advertising:
- In Scary Times, Advertising Firms Offer Messages of Strength, September 21, New York Times
- Memo to Marketing: Cut the Bull From Wall Street Ads, September 20, Washington Post
- Financial Services Firms’ Ads Mum on Wall St. Chaos, September 19, Brandweek