As we have noted previously on this blog, one of the major difficulties that asset management businesses have faced over the last year has been how they maintain their connections with their clients. In a highly competitive marketplace, the ability to engage is crucial to at least retaining clients, if not growing business.

For many, an extensive content strategy has been a cornerstone of how companies have communicated during the pandemic. In our 2020 Asset Management Trends Report, we found that asset managers continued to produce high volumes of content, with even the smallest managers sending out 10 pieces per month on average. Without wanting to pre-empt this year’s study, it seems a good bet to expect these levels will have been maintained, if not increased, as asset managers use reports, whitepapers, blogs and thought leadership to interact with and inform their clients.

Now, with much more positive developments seen in recent weeks and months, things will have to start to evolve again. While substantial challenges remain in a number of countries, markets including the UK and US are beginning to see the positive impact of vaccination programmes. The lifting of lockdown restrictions, albeit perhaps without an immediate return to normality, now seems to be much more certain, rather than just the possibility it appeared to be at the beginning of the year.

This is, of course, hugely welcome. However, this does mean that asset managers will need to revise their communications and content strategies, adapting to a new but hopefully familiar environment.

Both the approaches and topics that asset managers have used over the course of the pandemic will need to change. Investors’ focuses, which had been primarily focused on the immediate impact of COVID-19 over the last twelve months, will increasingly switch to the longer-term. This is not to say that some major issues that have been stimulated (or accelerated) by the pandemic – economic recovery; the potential of inflation; social upheaval; climate change; concentration risk and market bubbles – will not continue to be of importance. In all likelihood, they will do, albeit through a longer-term lens.

In the immediate future, asset managers will need to address two important but related issues: what are the lessons learned from the pandemic experience; and what are the key issues moving forwards that investors need to consider within the context of the asset allocation, risk budgeting and sustainability considerations. The former remains an important topic, but has a shortening shelf life as we get back to more regular working and living practices.

Just as important though is the way in which asset managers communicate moving forwards. Much has been made of the impressive use of technology over the last year; yet this is still not a substitute for direct, personal interaction and it remains to be seen how much of the ‘pandemic experience’ we ultimately adopt in our day-to-day lives. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other platforms have been hugely useful tools and it is difficult to see future working life without their use in some form. Yet, a sense of fatigue in using these feels increasingly apparent, similar to attitudes towards online events and webinars that have been so numerous over the last year.

What all of this means is that asset managers need to act now to refine and sharpen their communications and content strategies, ensuring they are on the front foot as restrictions continue to ease. One of the most abiding lessons of the pandemic is that businesses need to be adaptable. This will apply just as much in a post-pandemic world.