European asset managers are catching up in the social media arena

The social era is all about connecting people, ideas and things. The ubiquity of the internet and mobile devices is indisputable, and today it is difficult to imagine a world without instant messaging, online- communications and virtual interactions. Social media is a global phenomenon that is rapidly growing in countries all over the world regardless of economic, social and cultural development. The total number of active social media users now exceeds 2.3 billion, representing over 30% of the global population.

Although some level of uncertainty on the regulatory side persists and social media presents various operational challenges and risks, one thing is clear: asset managers are increasingly betting on the social media space. This trend is fuelled by customers’ changing needs, which make speediness, convenience and simplicity the drivers of their satisfaction.

To better understand how asset managers are responding to this phenomenon, PwC Market Research Centre and CACEIS conducted a study, titled #SocialMediaStudies, based on a sample of 100 leading asset management firms (according to their assets under management) and the 20 fastest growing asset management firms (in terms of net sales of European funds in 2015). This selection process, which takes into account eventual overlap between the two groups, provided us with a final sample consisting of 106 asset management firms. Each was given a score based on various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like the number of posts, likes, followers, etc. We also used qualitative assessments to evaluate the level of interaction asset managers have with clients and prospects on selected social media networks. Using our proprietary calculation methodology applied to acquire KPI data, we produced the following ranking table of the top 50 players on social media (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Top 50 asset management groups on social media

top 50 asset management group 1
top 50 asset management group 2
US-based strong brands still dominate, but Europeans are catching up

The ranking in 2016 is dominated by strong brands, principally from the US. But European players are progressing. In fact, there are three European firms in the top ten (Schroders, Robeco and Aberdeen AM). Robeco jumped to the 8th position this year, while Aberdeen AM joined the ranking achieving the 10th place.

Also, ten European players are now in the top 25, namely Schroders, Robeco, Aberdeen AM, Amundi AM, Nordea IM, Carmignac, Natixis GAM, DWS, AXA IM and BNP Paribas IP, while in 2013 there were just seven.

Asian players are not well-positioned in our ranking compared to North American and European asset managers1, as their social media environment is vastly different from its counterpart in the West. That said, in China, platforms like Sina Weibo, WeChat, Baidu Tieba, Qzone and Youku are more popular than the traditional ones such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Affiliated accounts2 climb the ranking

Affiliated asset managers are also climbing the ranks: Among the Top 50, we find Robeco (8th) climbing 45 positions from 2013. DWS (21st), AXA IM (22nd), Union Investment (28th), Generali Investments (36th) and Standard Life Investments (44th) are also moving upward in the ranking. Other affiliated asset managers such as New York Life (20th), Deka Investments (32nd) and Morgan Stanley IM (37th), are also now in the top 50 ranking.

The share of affiliated asset managers that have interactive3 accounts jumped to 41% in 2016 from 11% in 2013 (see figure 2).

The increase in affiliated accounts shows the efforts by mother companies (banks and insurance companies) to create accounts dedicated only to asset management instead of solely relying on a corporate account that deals with contents on diverse themes such as lending, investments and insurance. In such a way, investment firms can provide investors with more targeted information and consequently better attract their attention and increase their engagement with clients.

Figure 2: Share of interactive affiliated and non-affiliated accounts 2013 - 2016

share of interactive

1. Our methodology may underestimate the presence of Asian players due to its focus on the largest asset managers in terms of AuM and social media platforms.
2. We consider as affiliated accounts those that are linked to a mother company such as a bank or an insurance company.
3. We consider as interactive those accounts that engage users to participate in the discussion, comment on and create content.

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