The Edelman Asset Management Brand Index is a biennial study which provides a ranking for the 50 largest global institutional managers and the 40 largest UK wholesale/retail asset managers in relation to six brand factors – awareness, distinctiveness, corporate culture, strength of the investment team, rigour of a firm’s investment process and quality of the executive management team. 

Companies’ brand scores are based on the perception of IFAs and wealth managers (for the UK wholesale firms), senior investment consultants and fiduciary managers (for the institutional firms), and relevant media for both.  

See below for the key findings and trends from this year’s study.   

Key findings in the UK wholesale market  

In the UK wholesale market, the average brand score has bounced back slightly to 69.2%, up from 68.7% in 2019, but has failed to return to its 2017 high of 72%. Baillie Gifford has retained the top spot in the overall brand ranking table for the second year in a row.  

Brand score 2021

Key Trends Identified in this year’s report included:  

  • A small group of “brand champions” is emerging as asset managers with already well-regarded brands improve their strong reputations. Of the top 10 wholesale managers in the overall ranking in 2019, 7 have improved their brand scores, consolidating their top quartile positions. 

  • Overall scores for awareness have risen (82.8% in 2021 up from 71.2% in 2019) but scores for distinctiveness have fallen (67% down from 68.8%), suggesting firms are struggling to strike a balance between increasing brand visibility and communicating their differentiation or proof-points which make a firm genuinely stand apart from competitors. 

  • The distance is growing between firms perceived as leading the way in corporate culture and the rest of the field. The correlation between companies which are perceived to have the best management teams and those perceived as having the best corporate culture is also very strong. As “culture champions” emerge, management teams are an extremely powerful way of shaping a positive opinion of a firm’s culture.  

Key findings in the global institutional market  

In the global institutional market, the average brand score has fallen to 65.1% – down from 66.0% in 2019 – reflecting continued questions around the value of active management as markets rise globally. Insight Investment has toppled LGIM as the manager whose brand is most highly regarded among senior intermediary and media audiences.  

Brand score 2019

Key Trends Identified in this year’s report included:  

  • The strong are getting stronger, as “brand winners” start to emerge. The spread of scores between the top ranked and 50th ranked institutional managers widened to 28.4 percentage points compared to 20.4 percentage points in 2019. The average score for the top 10 ranked managers has risen notably between 2019 and 2021 – from 72.9% to 75.2%. Similarly, six top-10 ranked firms from 2019 improved their overall brand scores, with only three declining. 

  • The first and second ranked companies in the table (Insight and PIMCO) are bond specialists.  As central banks and governments have used their monetary and fiscal toolkits to stimulate economies, interest rates have fallen towards their lower bound and locating yield has become increasingly difficult. There is evidence that pension consultants and the media are recognising managers which are demonstrating their ability to find yield and communicate their thinking in this area. 

  • Institutional asset managers have seen their average awareness score drop from 69% to 64.4% but their average distinctiveness score rise from 65.4% to 66%. This could reflect more targeted marketing and communications activity - but the trade-off for achieving a greater appreciation of firms’ areas of strength is a decline in familiarity and name-recall. 

  • Institutional managers have, in aggregate, improved their Corporate Culture scores, with the average score rising from 63.2% in 2019 to 64.2% in 2021. However, as many companies made strides in improving the way their culture is perceived by intermediaries and the media, corporate culture is still the single largest drag factor for many managers which otherwise score strongly across other categories. The correlation between Corporate Culture and Management Quality scores suggests the power of Executive Management as torchbearers should not be underestimated. 

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