For Wealth Managers, Brand Equity Has Never Been More Important

For Wealth Managers, Brand Equity Has Never Been More Important


Investors’ search for their next advice provider rarely extends beyond providers that are top-of-mind

November 2019, BOSTON—Widely reported levels of investor satisfaction with their current financial providers, combined with demanding and distracted lifestyles, leave well-known wealth managers in a position of strength. Investors most often turn to recommendations from friends and family or those firms that come to mind first. As such, Cerulli Associates concludes that unaided awareness is one of the most crucial metrics in understanding a firm’s significance in the lives of potential consumers.

Fidelity achieves an unmatched level of unaided awareness among affluent investor respondents, with an average of 50% citing the firm when asked to name a provider in the space. “The firm’s extensive advertising, combined with its presence as a retirement plan provider for millions of participants, make it the most formidable brand in the wealth management segment,” says Scott Smith, director of advice relationships at Cerulli. Though frequently not the first to enter developing segments, once it has decided to do so, the move is usually decisive, which bodes well for the firm’s ability to maintain its premier position among investors, advisors, and retirement plan sponsors.
With an average of 33% of investors citing the firm when asked to name a provider in the space, Charles Schwab boasts a strong unaided awareness level among affluent investor respondents. Schwab makes a concerted effort to increase awareness levels through a variety of ongoing ad campaigns, highlighting the firm’s strengths. Smith explains that, “The firm often takes a leading position in advancing investor-focused initiatives.”

Vanguard manages to score the third-highest level of unaided awareness, with 23% of investors citing the firm when asked to name an investor in the space. “By opting out of the more active marketing options used by Fidelity and Schwab, Vanguard consigns itself to a somewhat reduced awareness level, but this has little downside for them,” adds Smith. “The firm has been an early leader in the low-cost investing movement. Even though other providers have made efforts to match, or beat, Vanguard’s initiatives, the firm maintains an unmatched public perception as a low-cost provider.” With its unique ownership structure, Vanguard should be well positioned to capitalize on retail investors’ increasing focus on fees.

Cerulli’s fourth quarter 2019 issue of The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition considers how well major financial providers are positioned to capture new flows through investors’ top-of-mind awareness. It also explores the firms to which investors are most likely to refer friends and family, through the lens of respondents’ current provider relationships.


These findings and more are from: The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition, 4Q 2019 Issue.


Looking for more information? Contact Us