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COVID-19 forces more than half of asset management firms to accelerate adoption of digital marketing technology

Despite ambitious digital strategies, a third of firms struggle to implement new digital technology, according to SDL report

MAIDENHEAD, UK

06 Oct 2020

A research report commissioned by SDL (LSE: SDL), the intelligent language and content company, reveals that more than half (52%) of European asset management firms have implemented client engagement, and digital marketing and communications technology, sooner than anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pan-European research, conducted by WBR Insights, also discovered that almost a third (32%) of firms admitted experiencing technical problems while implementing new digital technology during the pandemic. 

“There is no doubt that the pandemic focused hearts and minds on the protection of clients and their investments,” said Christophe Djaouani, EVP Regulated Industries, SDL. “It’s been a wake up moment for the industry, and they know they need to implement more robust client engagement and communications technology if they want to stay ahead of the increasing demands of anxious clients.”

Asset management firms also plan to embrace digital marketing communications much more with nearly half (48%) expecting to implement their initiatives across all their available digital channels this year, according to the research. Almost a third (27%) admit that ROI is the key driver that led their firm to adopt digital communications to meet their clients’ needs. 

Despite an accelerated push towards a digital marketing strategy in the onset of COVID-19, almost three quarters of firms felt they were either behind the curve (31%) or failing to break away from the pack (43%) when it comes to digital client engagement. Over half (55%) felt legacy IT systems were an issue impacting the implementation of new technology.

To help improve digital marketing and client communications, firms are turning to Machine Learning (48%) and Natural Language Processing (45%) technologies. However, there is also a notable move towards AI. A fifth (20%) already use AI technology and 37% intend to adopt AI within the next 12 months, with a further 41% expressing an interest in AI technology—albeit without firm implementation plans in place.

Christophe Djaouani concluded: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, Machine Learning technology is ahead of more experimental Artificial Intelligence systems. However, there is a strong indication that AI is destined for the mainstream in the next year. With a fifth of firms already using AI and over a third with plans to implement it within 12 months, it suggests that technology is viewed positively as a key element in the operational response to the pandemic and going forward.”

Despite operating in international markets, the majority (60%) of firms did not identify the need to differ digital approaches globally. Only 8% have adopted a centralized approach to managing their international websites. A third combine in-house and agency resources to manage their websites globally while a quarter outsource the process entirely to an international global agency. A lack of centralization introduces brand inconsistences, poor quality content and inaccurate translations across international territories.

Notes to Editors:

Conducted by WBR Insights on behalf of SDL, the pan-European research involved 100 Heads of Marketing, Sales and Client Services, who were asked how their technology platforms evolved during COVID-19 and the innovative solutions they have adopted to improve client engagement, compliance and multi-channel communications. A range of asset management firms in the UK, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Nordics and Switzerland were included in the research.

The findings have been included in SDL’s report ‘How Asset Management Firms Have Adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic.’ Contributors include Arno van den Heiligenberg, CFA and Simon Bailey, Global Marketing Chief Operating Officer, Standard Life Aberdeen.

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