Cutter Associates conducted a survey of leading investment management firms to benchmark their marketing functions against their peers and our proprietary capability model. Chief marketing officers and executives from participating firms, representing more than USD 5 trillion in AUM, shared insight on their marketing strategies and practices, in order to see how they stacked up. Here’s what we found.

A seismic shift is underway
Financial service marketing organizations are recognizing the importance of managing client experience. Seeing marketing step up to drive client experience is a remarkable shift from when sales departments were responsible for all efforts related to the client, and marketing played a supporting role.

Data is a challenge
Survey participants report improvement is needed in data quality, completeness, and accuracy. Poor data leads to poor digital marketing outcomes. Many marketing organizations are also lacking the tools to integrate and analyze siloed data sets, making strategic and tactical decision-making difficult and inefficient. To remedy data challenges, firms are including marketing in the enterprise data governance program to get a better understanding of how marketing consumes and produces data.
Content doesn't differentiate
Content is a foundational component of marketing efforts, and firms are recognizing this. Surveyed firms are producing hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing materials annually. However, marketing resources are mostly consumed by creating business as usual content such as pitch books and fact sheets. This is leaving little time to create narrative content that differentiates the firm in the eyes of clients and prospects.
Focus areas are changing
Overall, surveyed firms are continuing to develop their digital marketing capabilities. Marketers report planning to invest more in capabilities including segmentation, personalization, and new channels. Firms have been making investments in marketing automation and sales enablement. These technologies are expected to help provide more consistent messaging between marketing and sales.

The survey looked at firms’ marketing capabilities in the following four areas:

Marketing Strategy

  • Channel managers and digital team members are responsible for much of marketing’s activities in participating firms
  • Marketing and sales are seeking to improve client communication by investing in sales enablement and marketing automation tools. Firms can further align distribution efforts by improving segmentation and the customer experience.
  • Currently, marketing is most focused on content marketing, sales alignment, analytics, and lead generation
  • Marketing forecasts it will significantly shift focus toward segmentation, new channels, and data management over the next two years
  • Every surveyed firm reports customer experience management as a current priority

Marketing Content

  • Many marketing organizations do not use common content development aids including personas, customer journeys, creative briefs, or workflow software
  • Most marketers rely on static lists to segment audiences for campaigns
  • 58% percent of surveyed firms are using a sales enablement tool

Marketing Channels

  • Firms using native mobile apps, separate from a mobile website, are a rarity
  • 58% percent of firms are using email nurture campaigns, and many are planning to increase use
  • The type of client served (institutional, advisor, individual investor) does not change the social media platforms used by firms
  • All firms are using social media, yet smaller firms are less likely to activate spokespeople, sales, and employees

Marketing Operations

  • Despite the impact of data on marketing functions, only 36% of surveyed firms have representation in enterprise data governance programs
  • Data is a big concern for marketing. Most firms report improvement is needed across the board in data quality, data completeness, and accuracy
  • Only 4% of surveyed firms are using a purpose-built tool to integrate client data into a single view for analysis
  • Most marketing organizations are not reporting ROI in terms of contribution to sales; they are likely to report marketing channel metrics
  • 52% of firms are scoring leads; 34% of surveyed firms are grading leads. Yet 82% of firms are providing marketing leads to sales. It stands to reason that firms are providing leads to sales based on singular activities (e.g., event attendance, email clicks, website page visits, etc.) or purchased data packs.

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more and see how your firm measures up? Contact us.


Cindy Sealey, CFA
Principal, Client Facing Consulting Practice
Cutter Associates
+1 785 845 8526
Director, Client Facing Consulting Practice
Cutter Associates
+1 617 851 0407

About CutterBenchmarking
Cutter Associates provides firms with insights, strategies and implementation expertise to help firms navigate the people, processes, technology and data management challenges associated with making the transformational changes firms need to compete in today's market.  We have developed the Cutter Associates capability models for the major operational and IT functions in investment management firms. The Cutter Associates team uses the capability models to assign one of four capability levels to each function, ranging from reactive (no capability or manual capability only) to optimized (proactive, fully automated). The capability models provide a clear, consistent set of key measures for participating firms to identify exactly where they stand in relation to peers and best practices.
About Cutter Associates
Cutter Associates, LLC serves the operational and technology needs of the global asset and wealth management industry, providing clients the tools and services they need to be successful. By leveraging multi-faceted expertise and an unrivaled knowledgebase, Cutter Associates provides clients truly independent research, exclusive member-only events, custom operations benchmarking, and a global consultancy for strategic advice on and delivery of operational and technology excellence. Cutter Associates works with the world’s leading asset and wealth managers, providers and servicers. Headquartered in Hingham, MA, Cutter Associates has subsidiaries in Canada and the UK, and is on the web at

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2019 Marketing Benchmarking Study - Key Findings