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  • David Butcher
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We’re institutional, it’s different over here

There’s some £6 trillion squirrelled away in a huge variety of funds, trusts, shares and policies.

Over half is the institutional market – mainly public sector pensions, corporate pensions and insurance funds.

But, while institutional investment attracts the majority of assets, it’s served by a minority of communications experts. Curious.

It’s certainly true that institutional is very different – and language that lands well in wholesale or personal investing looks very out of place in pension and insurance land.

For me there are three differences.

It’s not homogenous. A chief investment officer looking at sustainable investments for a master trust pension scheme has vastly different selection criteria to her or his counterpart at a closed defined benefit corporate scheme. And the trustee boards and consultants in each area are also miles apart.

In fact large institutions are almost fund management businesses in their own right – they’re more like sophisticated Dutch pension schemes than smaller British institutions. And if you’ve spent decades working with fund managers you’ll know they’re not always easy to communicate with.

Product communications never wash. Institutional is all about helping this multiplicity of clients solve problems and take opportunities over decades. If you have to make massive payments to retired scheme members every month you’re really not going to be interested in the latest product – you’d rather know how you can make those payments more reliable.

Holistic communications tend to be best. In institutional, I’ve always thought media relations, content marketing, thought leadership and business development communications, such as RFPs, are essentially one and the same.

They need to be considered in the round – and infused with a modest tone of voice, a focus on ideas that solve problems, a sense of empathy with client needs and a commitment to the very long term.

I’ve found the above a winning template for institutional communications.

It’s always going to be more effective than copying and pasting a wholesale fund communications approach into the pensions and insurance market.

We’re institutional, it’s different over here

Author: David Butcher

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