Your Talking Heads Don't Have To Be Dead-heads

Look, videos on some asset management sites are starting to show some life.

One out of five online video viewers say they now watch less TV on a television set due to the time they’re spending watching online videos. That’s according to the Magid Media Futures™ 2009: Opportunities In Online Video study. Pew says online video-watching now surpasses participation in social networks.

But, let’s be honest. It’s a stretch of the imagination to think that mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) Web sites are reaping the benefits of heightened interest in online video. The state of the art right now in our industry features two guys reading a script on a Teleprompter over one another’s shoulders.

Would you turn off TV to watch those videos at the end of a long day? They are…hmm, how to put this?...not what you would watch before you sleep, maybe for help in getting to sleep.

We’ve recently stumbled upon videos on three sites that dare to be different. They feature talent with a pulse, they’re not framed in teeny-tiny boxes on the site and, well, they’re interesting.

First Trust's Economic Commentary

First up is First Trust Portfolios’ Wesbury 101 - Economic Video Commentary. "This Is Not a 'Sugar High'" featuring Chief Economist Brian Wesbury is the second such video published on this month. Wesbury delivers an animated commentary, and we especially like the inclusion of charts and graphs in the video. If your videos aren't including graphics, why even bother? You could get by with less fuss and expense with a podcast and a headshot.

Oh and who called our attention to this? Financial advisor Adam Zuercher when he tweeted about it to his 360-some followers, illustrating the viral quality of video and the reason you want to offer it on your site. Note that the video can be downloaded.

What would make this presentation even better—and I mention this because it's quality content that should be optimized for findability through search engines—is for Wesbury's full name and title to be on the Web page. The on-site search engine, too, should produce results for a "Wesbury" search.


T. Rowe Price Portfolio Manager Interviews Play It Natural

href="" target="_blank">T. Rowe Price has really committed to video, and one Steve Norwitz, vice president, appears to have had a very busy July 13, the as-of date of many videos on the site. Norwitz is a professional who clearly has command of his material. But it's the naturalness of his interviewees that especially appeals.

When you see frequent or abrupt cutaways in a money manager video, that’s the mark of Compliance, requiring an edit after the fact. I didn’t see any of those in the T. Rowe videos I watched.

For example, at marker 1:25 in the video whose image we link to below  the portfolio manager of the Capital Appreciation Fund appears to improvise his own marketing message: “If you only want to own one strategy, then this makes sense,” says David Giroux.

It’s barely detectable but Norwitz looks off to the side as if for a signal and then tries to rein Giroux in by suggesting that the fund may be a core holding and that investors may want to own other funds. Watch Giroux’ grudging agreement. He'd already said that all his 401(k) money was in the fund he manages but in this moment, shareholders can see his conviction. Only video could capture this.


MFS' 85th Anniversary Video

OK, it’s scripted and I suspect this took a few takes. Still, there’s something charming when CEO “Rob” (Robert J. on the site’s bio) Manning walks onto the Individual Investors home page of href="" target="_blank">, talks about the anniversary of Massachusetts Investors Trust, the first mutual fund, and then thanks shareholders for their business. An anniversary does require a splash. Do you think a letter from the CEO would have been an equally effective communication?


Your Move

Producing video consumes resources and inevitably people are going to start asking the right questions: Who's watching these videos? Are they doing us any good? And, what's it going to take to drive viewership?

But hey, if you're responsible for digital strategy at a company that’s still serving up the tragic videos, that puts you at the scene as an accomplice. Shouldn't you be the one instead to call the question?

Are you producing or do you know of additional noteworthy investment management videos? Comment below, send an email to or catch up with us on Twitter @RockTheBoatMKTG.