Online wealth management is a rapidly growing industry and an interesting one to follow for brokers. What’s more, the relatively stable income, large assets under management and a different target audience makes for an attractive diversification play for brokers looking to escape volatile income and low account sizes. In this article I would like to discuss what these companies are up to in terms of marketing and what can be learned by brokers.
Some key players in this space are Nutmeg, Wealthfront, Betterment, Vaamo and Moneyfarm. There are some differences, but all focus on low cost, (semi) automated investing directly in competition with traditional wealth managers and financial advisors. In terms of marketing communications, they focus more on the difference between them and traditional offerings then directly on their product. This is a nice brand position to have; it is not hard being against an arrogant industry in fancy buildings overcharging you.
In a recent TV ad, Nutmeg took a similar approach; “In an industry that is renowned for being complex, expensive, opaque and intimidating, we are very different”. This type of advertising that contrasts and compares against the old way of doing things is a very effective way of shaping your brand position. You can argue that this only works in new industries but because self-directed trading still has a relatively low penetration in some countries, it can be applied in the online brokerage field too. Think of banks and traditional brokers; a contrast and compare approach would work nicely towards those customers.
Consistent with the promise of no frills wealth management, websites and advertising for these brands all have simplicity at its core. Brokers can learn from this too. All marketing communications should be consistent with the main brand position of a company. If you are no frills, show it in your advertising. If you are technology first, make technologically advanced advertising. On a more basic level, making sure that the things you want people to do when they visit your website are the most visible items (with little other visual distraction) is a no brainer, and most online wealth management websites seem to get that.
These companies need to reach a broader audience with their advertising, so besides online advertising, TV, Print and Outdoor are heavily represented in media plans, despite being an online-first business. These companies can learn from Brokers too, few seem to actively use financial markets content through (native) advertising, paid content and PR which is a missed opportunity to get in front of a relevant target audience.