Is Mutual Fund Wholesaling Dead?
On the way out the door the other day, someone said to me, “Don’t you think mutual fund wholesaling is dead?” My answer was, “No” – but then I couldn’t stop thinking about the question… and whether I want to change my answer. Maybe wholesaling is dead, at least the way most firms do it. So how do you keep your mutual fund distribution effort from going the way of the walking dead?
Your wholesaling effort is dead or dying if:
1. You are all about old-school cold calling
For obvious reasons, a salesperson banging the phones and leaving voicemails, “My name is X, from Y firm, we run Z mutual fund, give me a call at 555-no-one-cares” doesn’t often result in a high-probability sales opportunity.
2. Delivery of materials is the primary focus of your sales communications
Your materials are on your website (please say you have a website?). So you don’t need a sales person to send 40 emails a day to his sales funnel with these two sentences, “Here’s a link to the commentary on our website. Let me know if you need anything else.” Salespeople should be closing deals not delivering links to commentaries. Definitely not a good ROI of your $ or that salesperson’s time.
3. Your expensive salespeople are mass-senders of email templates
Most email templates sound like… templates. Pretty difficult to fool the recipient into thinking it’s “about them”. Especially when you forget to change the name – c’mon, we’ve all done it. If you have something worth saying to a lot of people, use an email service like Vertical Response for cents on the dollar.
Your mutual fund wholesaling effort is alive and thriving if:
1. You are pulling like-minded target investors to you
If your PMs write/talk about things that are important to them and to investors: risks in the markets or opportunities to take advantage of, questions investors are grappling with, cool topics being discussed in the industry … like-minded people will gravitate to you. They’ll find you. They’ll read what you are writing. They’ll listen to what you are saying. And the odds of your salespeople closing deals from this group of target investors are a lot higher than from a list of names/numbers pulled from SEC data and ranked by AUM descending.
2. Solving problems is the primary focus of your sales communications
Your team puts in the work to understand what the investor’s current challenges are and then you think about how you would solve them if you were in their shoes… with the products you have to offer. And then your team puts in more work to articulate that to the investor, to help them think through the role your product will play in the portfolio, how it will help them build a portfolio that is better aligned with their client’s needs. People are busy. If you want them to look at your fund a certain way, you need to show them. Don’t expect your target investors to do more work than you’re willing to do.
3. Your salespeople are actually being people
As in… your salespeople understand that an investor might have more important things to do on a Monday morning at 9 am besides talk to a wholesaler about some new mutual fund. Your salespeople have hobbies, they read things, they lead lives outside their offices, and they have other things to talk about with a human besides the current hot mutual fund you are pitching. Your salespeople are smart and they are cool. #winning
At Havener, we spend a lot of time putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. If I was an advisor, would I be totally overwhelmed by the amount of unsolicited emails and phone calls I receive from wholesalers -90% of which are not about me, or my clients, or the issues I’m facing? Um, yes, I’d be overwhelmed … and annoyed.
Before your salespeople write their next email or leave their next voicemail, perhaps it’s worth thinking about it from the recipient’s perspective. Who is the email or voicemail about? If the answer is you, hit the reset button ASAP.
Maybe wholesaling itself isn’t dead, but the old school methods typically used in mutual fund distribution certainly are. Some of us will put in the hard-work and effort to pivot and adapt, and some of us will just wander around the halls of wholesaling like zombies, flinging fact sheets in the air, wailing “Call me if you have any questions”… then wonder why the phone isn’t ringing.