8 Advantages to Starting Your Marketing Career in Investment Management, and 2 Disadvantages

For years, you’ve honed your marketing skills in the investment management space. Sure, you’ve gazed at the greener grass of more creative or bigger-budget sectors on occasion. Keep your chin up. Your training has prepared you for success in more ways that you realize–particularly in the B2B world. Here’s 8 lessons that indicate that you’re on the right path.

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1. You know that time = money

You may have had to call a meeting with a portfolio manager, a trader and a product specialist for a major product launch or next quarter’s road trip. Knowing full well that some markets somewhere are open, you’ve made a habit of keeping those sessions fast and infrequent.

A friend of mine working in New York told me that each time the head of trading would call an all-hands-on-deck meeting, he always began with a simple statement. “This meeting is costing the company X hundred thousand dollars per minute, so only speak up if it’s worth it.”  Needless to say, little time was wasted.

2. You’ve got more launches under your belt than NASA

It’s true. Yes, theirs are more complex (even if it doesn’t always feel like it). But you’ve got way higher numbers. NASA launched 135 shuttle missions in 30 years. According to Statista, there were more than 110,000 open-ended funds in 2016, with somewhere between 2000 and 6000 new funds launched in each of the past 5 years. Plus, when you’re not launching, you’re working out a new or refreshed product line-up to showcase for an upcoming event or campaign. However…

Rodin’s The Thinker.
Photo credit MustangJoe via Flickr.

3. You know that product launches aren’t enough

A marketing team that’s only doing product marketing is barely treading water. You know that to cut through to your audience, you have to go beyond the product and make a genuine connection. Thought leadership is the real battlefield in investment management. Investors want to be prepared for what’s to come, even if, in the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
4. You know how to weigh pros and cons to make a sale

Successful investing is about getting the risk/return equation right. There is no single, perfect investment for everyone. Rather, you position and pitch the product for a select investor type and give a full account of what they can expect, ‘warts and all.’ Why? Because you’ve spent countless hours with your compliance team. (Also, you believe deep down that honesty is the best policy.) Post-MiFID, you know that every communication must be ‘clear, fair and not misleading.’ Being forthright and setting proper expectations tends to translate into credibility gains down the line. Speaking of compliance…

5. You can accommodate a very robust compliance framework

All that time spent with the folks in compliance and legal? It wasn’t swapping recipes. It lead you to develop a set of terms that highlight your firm’s offer while respecting clear limits–and made your communications more deliberate and purposeful as a result. One clear downside: the phrase, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results” has been etched forever into your subconscious.

6. You understand the B2B mindset

It turns out that fixed income investors are not the only ones analyzing the breakevens. No one, no matter what business they’re in, wants to run the risk of losing money. So they look to see how much cushion there is available, and under what circumstances they would still come out without a loss. It’s the same story with maximum historic drawdown.

7. You know that decision making is a team sport

When you’re gearing up to launch the next big thing, you know that you can’t do it alone: business-to-business means bringing together your colleagues to address the client, the influencers, the gatekeepers and stakeholders to achieve maximum impact. So, of course you’ll line up RFP, consultant relations, sales and PR team to bring a consistent message to market. Anything else would just be silly.

8. You take the very long view

In this business, there is no impulse buying. You’re not trying to sell a few more candy bars at the cash register. Instead, you’re accustomed to working through a decision-making process in the 9 to 24 month range. From discussions with sales teams, you have a fairly good idea which of the largest institutional investors in your markets are due to put out requests for proposals in the next year–and you’ve quite possibly already started working on them.

While that’s all well and good, there are a couple of drawbacks. For instance…

Disadvantage 1. It’s one of the few sectors where you need a master’s degree in order to be qualified to update a slide deck.

Disadvantage 2. Regular-sized number become meaningless in a professional context. You’re either dealing with millions, billions, or basis points. Anything else is a ratio.

Did I miss anything? Add your thoughts in the comments section.