Note from the editor: This month on the WFC blog, we feature a guest post from Imagineer Technology Group, a provider of SaaS solutions for the asset management industry. The topic of this piece is employer branding, which Imagineer describes as defining “the voice of your firm’s culture” and showcasing how your employees live the firm’s values.
This might sound like a topic that is better suited for a blog about human resources, rather than one focused on thought leadership and content marketing for financial services firms. But, as Imagineer correctly explains, employer branding is a critical part of an asset management firm’s larger branding efforts.
In the asset management industry, it can be very difficult to successfully differentiate one firm from the competition. Using traditional marketing efforts to highlight a firm’s outstanding performance and processes can only go so far. But through strong employer branding, asset managers can help their firm to truly stand out in a crowded and competitive market. This is especially true as ESG and socially responsible investing become increasingly high-priority concerns for investors.
By developing high-quality employer branding and using methods such as thought leadership to share your firm’s voice, asset managers can create a values-driven ecosystem that not only attracts talented employees to your firm, but new clients, as well.
Thank you to our friends at Imagineer for sharing their insights!
Why Employer Branding Can Be a Key Differentiator in the Asset Management Industry
By Ashley Kramer, Marketing Manager at Imagineer Technology Group
In the asset management industry, many times competing firms share similar product offerings, corporate structures, or even business strategies. This is not inherently a bad thing: these factors have become commonplace simply because they are generally successful, and frankly, there are but so many product strategies out there. When your business plan looks the same as your competitors’, it can be tricky to find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. This is where branding, and in particular employer branding, can really shine.
Employer branding is, as the name suggests, the reputation of what it is like to work at your firm — it is the voice of your firm’s culture and the individuals who make up your firm. This should be a sub-strategy of your overall brand strategy, which is vital for asset managers. Brand marketing is the best way to talk about your firm and what you do without marketing directly to your target audience(s). If your brand showcases the values of the firm, your employer brand showcases how your employees live those values.
Every firm that has employees has an employer brand; the challenge is how to create a strong, unique, and appealing employer brand. This starts with living what you preach: make sure that your firm’s mission and values trickle down to every person within your organization. From interviews to onboarding to reviews, it’s important that everyone is aligned on what makes your organization’s culture truly special.
In terms of specifics, diversity is extremely important to a healthy culture, and it should be valued at every level of the organization. The same goes for career development opportunities — employees should not only have a defined path for advancement, but should feel like they are continuously learning in their role and from their teammates. Lunch-and-learns, networking events, and team-building activities are all valuable in this regard.
I’ll pause here to answer a question you may be asking: this all sounds well and good for an HR department, but what does it have to do with marketing to prospective clients or investors? I won’t deny that the primary purpose for employer brand marketing is to attract prospective employees. However, time and time again I’ve seen employer branding influence new business decisions. Again, if firms have similar strategies, what is going to differentiate them? How well their people can enact those strategies.
As such, potential investors want to see that your firm is looking for the best and brightest talent, and is continuing to nurture and grow that talent once onboard. This ties directly into diversity as well. As ESG (environmental, social, and governance) becomes increasingly important for an asset allocator’s due diligence process, firms need to have good answers for how they foster a socially responsible workplace.
So, with an employer brand established, the final step is to market that brand outside of your firm. In general, your marketing efforts should make your firm human, rather than a faceless organization. To do that, share stories about your team, or key employee wins. Directly promote your career development programs or diversity initiatives. Showcase events going on both in and out of the office.
This can (and should) be marketed to the public through a variety of channels. Employer branding content is often effective in blog form and video form. It also provides an easy way for asset managers to use social media in a manner that won’t be frowned upon by regulators. It’s also worth looking at external channels as well — there are a number of review sites that are worth maintaining your firm’s reputation, from general sites like Glassdoor and The Muse, to demographic-specific sites like Fairygodboss. And if your firm is involved with organizations like 100 Women in Finance or OPEN Finance (an industry LGBTQ+ community), that provides an additional opportunity to align yourself with strong external brands that foster diversity.
Asset management firms are often reticent to market themselves in general, but there are a few prominent examples of effective employer branding — and unsurprisingly, some of the most successful brand marketers are also some of the most successful firms. Citadel, for example, does a fantastic job talking about different career paths, showcasing diversity, and putting human faces to its company. They post videos on their website and also leverage ads on a number of social media platforms to showcase their employer brand. Bridgewater is another example — amongst their employer branding content is a campus recruiting secondary URL and a diversity and inclusion tab on their website. Other firms like, Caddis Partners, have leveraged their blog as a way to share employee wins and promotions. And Twelve Squared Capital utilizes social media sites like LinkedIn to advertise their job openings and attract candidates.
Building and maintaining a strong employer brand takes consistent effort, but you will find that it makes a big difference in positioning your firm above the numerous other competitors in the asset management space. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org — I’d be happy to discuss further!