Thursday, November 11, 2010

Superannuation investors don't care about brand - don't believe it!

Just picked up on an article in today's Financial Standard, reporting that leading financial services company, Mercer, has surveyed 500 working Australians and discovered that a high proportion of members rate investment performance as their number one priority in superannuation (their pension fund), ahead of brand and choice.

As you can imagine, this revelation blew me away. Of course they rate investment performance above all else! Making money to boost your retirement savings is the name of the game isn't it?

Mercer also reported that only 6% of those surveyed thought it important that their money was managed and invested by a well-known brand. What concerned me was that this led to the conclusion that there is a disconnect between what members and the trustees of their funds want, with 'brand development' being bundled with the other peripherals of lesser concern to investors.

Rather than a disconnect between what members and trustees want, this reflects a belief on the part of the researchers that brand is simply a measure of awareness. It is not. It defines organisational belief and a behavioural model that establishes and builds relationships with customers. In other words, I believe if you asked consumers whether they thought it important to have confidence and belief in the fund (the brand) that was looking after their money, the answer would be a resounding 'yes' for the vast majority.

So whether fund members have their money with a 'big brand' (read: "high awareness"), or a smaller, lesser-known fund, they must have confidence in the fund's brand, the values that underpin it and alignment of its promise with their experiences. Yes, investment returns are right at the top of the hierarchy for most people, but isn't that just part of the brand portfolio for any decent fund?

I'm sure the level of understanding about the essence of brand varies considerably across the spectrum of funds. Fund trustees who really understand brand work on 'brand development' because they understand that achieving a perfect alignment of brand and customer values is the axis around which successful client relationships revolve.

Brand development is not a misalignment of customer and trustee priorities. In fact, building your brand with the aim of achieving alignment of customer and trustee priorities is the only thing that matters.

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