Wealth management firms can build competitive advantage by establishing themselves as industry “thought leaders.” This takes time and resources. But after working with countless wealth management firms and advisors throughout the past decade, we’ve found the results to be proven.
The first step in any thought leadership initiative is to assemble your executive team and identify a few topmost issues, challenges and trends on the minds of your current and potential clients.
Zero in on compelling and timely topics — and come up with a point of view, with an analysis, with messages, and with strategic guidance that will help wealth management clients address these challenges. Your analysis can also include predictions for the future.
This will help maximize your relevance as a newly minted “thought leader.” Your “thoughts” will carry value — because you’ll be tackling the precise problems faced by your clients.
The Checklist for Thought Leadership in Wealth Management
Once you have a working consensus on your analyses and messages, decide whether the “thought leader” will be the CEO or another designated executive.
Now, your campaign begins. While other strategies exist, here are four proven platforms for establishing thought leadership:
1. Get yourself “sourced:” Business reporters often cite industry experts to amplify and add color to their news reports on wealth management and investment trends. These quoted experts are known as “sources.” Getting quoted in this way represents successful “sourcing.”
How do you qualify yourself as an expert meriting “sourcing?” A good way is for your executive spokesperson to schedule exploratory or get-acquainted coffees, lunches or phone calls with top-tier reporters in your sector.
These one-on-one, get-acquainted sessions will typically qualify your “thought leader” as a genuine expert — and position them for sourcing.
2. Submit bylines on trends and best practices: This time-honored strategy is key to a thought leadership campaign. The “by” in the word “byline” means that a column is “by” someone. In this case, your column is focused on a current wealth management issue or on three or four “best practices” in the world of investment planning.
Bylines are pure you. It’s you talking, unfiltered and directly. You can say what you want to say, often at some length. It’s powerful to be speaking analytically, in your own words, on a relevant, investment-related topic in a media outlet or guest blog read by clients and prospective clients.
And bylines are easily “merchandised.” With proper permission, they’re simple to circulate — and they’re LinkedIn-friendly. Solid and well-placed bylines are a pillar of thought leadership.
3. Underwrite research or surveys: This advanced strategy only works for companies with adequate resources.
Firms can commission research, perhaps by a grad school professor, on one of the top-of-mind topics referenced above. Research may take the form of surveys. Generally, survey respondents should closely resemble your client base.
Your company owns the results of the research. You can brand them with your company name, like “the Nielsen Survey” or the “Dow Jones Index.” You’ll be offering comment and analysis on an exclusive basis. If possible, you can update and issue your new findings every year, for example, or every six months. And surveys typically carry intrinsic news value, which tends to ensure coverage.
4. Get on panels and play a prominent role at conferences: These thought leadership techniques also carry price tags, but can often be worth it. Panel appearances enable you to show off your wealth management expertise in person and in real time. They open the door to new business relationships at the event itself and in follow-up contacts initiated by attendees. And panels are often covered by the media.
Sponsoring conference events doesn’t automatically deliver thought leadership value. But firms can reap reputational advantages by underwriting content-rich events, workshop or panels at conferences. Often, you can work with the conference planners to shape an event to sponsor that reinforces your company’s “thought leadership” messages.
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Speak to your in-house marketing team or your public relations firm about mounting a thought leadership campaign using these and other strategies. Get to be known as a forward-thinking firm that has its finger on the pulse of wealth management trends and strategies.
You’ll find that an investment in thought leadership will boost your company’s prestige and, very often, your market share.