The Rise of Experiential Marketing in Financial Services
As content marketers working in the financial services industry, we need to stay on top of the many marketing changes happening in our industry, and in others.
One of the big changes taking place outside financial services is the rise of experiential marketing. Let’s explore experiential marketing: what it is, what one company has done very well as well as taking a look at what a financial services firm could do.
What is experiential marketing?
Sometimes it’s called engagement marketing or participation marketing, and there’s a good reason for that. Experiential marketing is a very hands-on approach to marketing. It takes place right in front of the consumer – on a street corner, at an event or anywhere consumers might be. But it’s not the same as giving away samples in front of a train station. Experiential marketing is interactive and provides a real experience between the consumer and the brand.
To get a better idea of what this means, let’s look at an example from the retail industry.
The Molson Canadian global beer fridge
There’s a good chance you’ve seen these commercials. A crowd of Canadians gather in a public space, drawn in by the sight of a Molson Canadian beer fridge. They’re looking confused and wondering what this beer fridge is doing in this particular space. After all, it’s a spot they’ve likely walked by many times before – and there’s never been a beer fridge there before.
As members of the crowd chat with each other, they slowly realize that the fridge is waiting for people to say “I am Canadian” in different languages. Working as a group, the crowd finds many people who speak different languages, and each steps forward to say “I am Canadian” in their own way. After the 10th language is spoken, the beer fridge open, and it’s free beer for everyone! (Adults only, of course.)
Not surprisingly, the crowd cheers and looks genuinely excited. Although we weren’t there personally, we’d be willing to bet that nobody in that crowd will ever forget that experience. And that, right there, is the definition of experiential marketing.
And for the rest of us witnessing the magic through commercials only? We didn’t have the same hands-on experience, but this is still a memorable campaign. We didn’t get free beer, but we certainly get the message about living in a wonderfully multi-cultural society.
The lesson for financial services
As a financial services marketer, the information you provide to customers is important. But for it to have a real impact, it also has to be memorable. Set aside the brochures and product information sheets for a moment and think about how you can create a real experience for your customers – an experience they’re not likely to forget any time soon.
One idea could be to go to an event where you know investors will be and set up a gaming station. Invite investors to play a game where they can choose different financial paths and see how their choices affect their future. For example, a player who hasn’t started saving for retirement can choose an amount to start saving now or to put off saving for 10 years so they can focus on eliminating their debt. They could choose to spend their tax refund on a vacation or on an extra mortgage payment. They could choose, for example, to prioritize retirement savings over saving for a child’s education.
With each path chosen, the player should be able to see the impact of their choices and what might happen if they made a different choice. The reward for playing could be something that ties into the game, like a complimentary session with a financial planner.
Keep in mind that many people like to keep their financial lives private. You may want to skip the crowd aspect of the Molson Canadian beer fridge campaign and create an experience that engages customers one-on-one.
Alternative Beta Strategies: Alpha/Beta Separation Comes to Hedge Funds
Written by: Yazann Romahi, Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Beta Strategies, J.P. Morgan Asset Management
A quiet revolution is taking place in the alternatives world. The idea of alpha/beta separation has finally made its way from traditional to alternative investing. This development brings with it a more transparent, liquid and cost-effective approach to accessing the “alternative beta” component of hedge fund return and a new means for benchmarking hedge fund managers.
The good news for investors is that the separation of hedge fund return into its components—rules-based alternative beta and active manager alpha—has the potential to shift investing as we know it. These advancements could democratize hedge funds and, at long last, make what are essentially hedge fund strategies available to all investors—even those who aren’t willing to hand over the hefty fees often associated with hedge fund investing.
A benchmark for alternatives
With respect to traditional equity investing, we have long accepted the idea that there is a market return, or beta—but this hasn’t always been the case. Investors used to assume that to make money in the stock markets, one needed to buy the right stocks and avoid the wrong ones. The idea of a market return independent of skilled stock selection seemed ridiculous to most market participants. Yet today, we would never invest in an active manager’s strategy without benchmarking it against its respective beta.
Interestingly, hedge fund managers have been held to a different standard. Investors have been much more willing to accept the notion that hedge fund strategy returns are pure alpha, and that their investment returns are based entirely on the skill of the fund manager. That notion explains why investors have been willing to accept a “two and twenty” fee structure just to access what has been perceived as one of the most sophisticated and powerful investment vehicles available.
In thinking about the concept of beta, consider its precise definition—the return achievable by taking on a systematic exposure to an economically compensated risk. In traditional long only equity investing, the traditional market beta has been further refined as a number of other risks have been identified that are commonly referred to as “strategic beta.” These include factors such as value, momentum, quality and size. But no one ever said that these risk factors must be long-only.
Over the past decade, as more hedge fund data became available, academics began to disaggregate hedge fund return into two components: compensation for a systematic exposure to a long/short type of risk (alternative beta), and an unexplained “manager alpha.” What they found is that a significant portion of hedge fund return can be attributed to alternative beta. That fact has turned the tables on how we look at hedge fund return. With the introduction of the alternative beta concept, hedge fund managers will have to state their results, not just in terms of total return, but also as excess return over an alternative beta benchmark.
Merger arbitrage—an alternative beta example
The merger arbitrage hedge fund style can be used to illustrate the alternative beta concept. In the case of merger arbitrage, the beta strategy would be the systematic process of going long every target company, while shorting its acquirer. There is an inherent return to this strategy because the target stock price typically does not immediately rise to the offer price upon the deal’s announcement. This creates an opportunity to purchase the stock at a discount prior to the deal’s completion. The premium that remains is compensation to the investor for bearing the risk that the deal may fail.
Active merger arbitrage managers can add value by choosing to invest in some deals while avoiding others. Therefore, their benchmark should be the “enter every deal” strategy, not cash. In fact, the beta strategy explains the majority of the return to the average merger arbitrage hedge fund. And it doesn’t stop there. Other hedge fund styles that can be explained using alternative beta include equity long/short, global macro, and event driven. Note that the beta strategy invests in the same securities, using the same long/short techniques as the hedge fund strategy. The difference is that the beta strategy is a rules-based version that can become the benchmark for the hedge fund strategy. After all, if a hedge fund strategy cannot beat its respective rules-based benchmark (net of fees), an investor may be wiser to stick to the beta strategy.
Implications for investors
What does all this mean for the end investor? Hedge funds have traditionally been the domain of sophisticated investors willing to pay high fees and sacrifice liquidity. Alpha/beta separation in the hedge fund world means that investors can finally choose whether to buy the active version of the hedge fund strategy or opt for the passive (beta) version. Hedge fund strategies can be effective portfolio diversifiers. Now, through alternative beta, virtually all investors can access what are essentially hedge fund strategies in a low cost, liquid, and fully transparent form. For investors who haven’t had prior access to hedge funds, this could be welcome news. Not only can investors look at an active hedge fund manager’s strategy and determine how it has done compared to the systematic beta equivalent, they can also invest in ETFs that encapsulate these systematic strategies.
When looking at one’s traditional balanced portfolio today, there are plenty of questions around whether the fixed income portion will achieve the same level of diversification it has provided in the past. After all, with yields still low, there is little income return. Additionally, the capital gains that came from interest rate declines are likely to reverse. With fixed income unlikely to adequately fulfill its traditional role in portfolios, there is a need to find an alternative source of diversification. This is where alternative strategies may help. For investors seeking to access diversifying strategies in liquid and low-cost vehicles, alternative beta strategies in ETF form are one option.
Looking for an alternative to enhance diversification in your portfolio?
For investors looking to further diversify their overall portfolio, JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF) seeks to increase diversification and reduce overall portfolio volatility through direct, diversified exposure to hedge fund strategies using a bottom-up, rules-based approach.
Learn more about JPHF and J.P. Morgan’s suite of ETFs here.
Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit www.jpmorganetfs.com to obtain a prospectus. Carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read them carefully before investing.
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