Much has changed in the investment industry since 1977, when marketing and sales professionals got together in Chicago for the first Association of Investment Management Sales Executives; but at the same time, things aren't that different.
In 1977, the economy was struggling and the stock market was down 7.4%; in 2001, the economy was struggling and the stock market was down 11.9%, its worst year since. It's not surprising, then, that the theme of this year's AIMSE conference, being held April 28 to May 1 in Boca Raton, Fla., is "The Challenge of Staying Ahead." Many of the 40 breakout sessions, such as "Selling yourself and your firm when performance is down," will address the issues investment sales and marketers faced 25 years ago.
The institutional investment industry overall is very different from what it was in 1977, however. The biggest change has been specialization, said Kurt Wood, chairman of AIMSE's communications committee. Twenty five years ago, and even as recent as 10 to 15 years ago, marketing efforts focused mainly on the defined benefit market. But since then, money management firms have had to branch out to meet the needs of the increasingly important defined contribution and high-net-worth markets. As a result, AIMSE's educational efforts have become much more specialized. This is reflected with sessions such as "Growth opportunities in the high net worth marketplace" and "How to navigate the new European market" at this year's AIMSE conference.
But sales and marketing professionals also need to know a lot more about the firm's overall business than they did 25 years ago, Mr. Wood said. The focus had been on sales and relationship building, but now sales professionals need to know about the portfolios, client service, technology and systems, and the company itself. The latter is particularly relevant in this era of mergers and acquisitions, when clients want to know the potential impact on their portfolios of organizational changes, said Mr. Wood.