Comment: Fund boutiques, private label funds and investment companies – Digital beats analogue?

„Even today most of us find it impossible to really know more than 150 individuals, no matter how many Facebook friends we show off about“ (Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century).
Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook and more – the economy of attention also applies to the asset management industry. Does digitalization represent the future communication in this area?

Fund boutiques and mission

Entrepreneurs in the asset management segment who are independent of the Group are often referred to as fund boutiques. Special characteristics of these asset managers are usually independence from group interests, a high degree of specialisation and „skin in the game“ as well as the characteristic of authenticity: These entrepreneurs are conviction-mongers, „burning for their cause“. They love what they do – a bold statement at this point: Many of them are by no means primarily motivated by pecuniary interests, monetary compensation is more a form of hygiene factor – in the sense of: „An excellent job is rightly exquisitely rewarded!

Digitization and Information Overflow

Social networks are a good way to stay in touch personally known and unknown market participants (fund managers, sales, investors). However, they do not replace personal contact interaction.This fact is perhaps sometimes emphasized a little too little. One can exchange contact data, stay more or less in „passive“ contact with a large number of people over a long period of time through postings and other activities. One can get the impression that in an additional complex services the term social selling can lead to a „imbalance“ in communication. Why? Content with specialist information is often seen as an offer, of course with the option of „disregarding“. However, if this type of selling is done via the „dumping of product promotion“ channel, expectations are often inevitably disappointed. As the platforms in this area grow, the providers of promotions often „scream” themselves down, as the channels with sales information cramping investors, who have neither the time nor the energy to cope with the information.

„Back to the roots“ – opportunities for the analogue world

In the area of roboadvisor providers, the initial euphoria seems fairly to have subsided. Meanwhile the desire for personal connection   in consulting is back. Apart from disappointment in the area of performance, the market appears too fragmented. This fragmentation also exists in the area of fund boutiques. One strength, the non-standardization, the heterogeneous range of personalities, investment approaches and asset classes offers a wealth of content of a professional nature, which is often perceived as enriching by investors: At investor events and manager meetings, the following still applies: people currently still prefer to communicate with people rather than clicking through menus. Perhaps this behaviour will change in the future. However: The alternative to digital neutralization in the area of social media as well as in the area of mailings is for many providers still personal contact with the investor, with the disadvantage in terms of scalability: Relationships cannot be established at the push of a button.

Investment companies as „communication hubs

Event formats of investment companies (Ampega, Axxion, Hansainvest, Universal Investment etc.) show that personal contact becomes increasingly important in times of digital saturation. Digital formats are helpful, but appear limited by the need for convenience and the capacity limits in the information intake by customers. Houses that creatively promote the dialogue between fund initiators and investors also create negotiating power for fund projects („added value“). Both worlds complement each other, but do not replace each other. In the sense of: There is still nothing like a cultivated personal exchange of ideas!


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