In 2005, Legg Mason (formerly Citigroup Asset Management) was the market leader in separately managed accounts (SMAs) — an investment vehicle allowing investors working with advisors to design portfolios tailored to their individual needs and goals. Category leadership was satisfying, but the firm recognized that the vehicle remained poorly understood beyond a relatively narrow band of advisors and investors. Legg Mason began an ambitious program to throw new light on the advantages of SMA as well as its own leadership attributes, with the goal of dramatically expanding the universe of SMA users — and, as the industry’s leader, its own SMA market share.
Legg Mason reasoned that in a tough investment environment, SMAs’ attributes would seem more compelling than ever. In particular, Legg Mason wanted to identify precisely the inherent qualities that investors appreciate most about SMAs, and then widely and aggressively communicate these findings to financial advisors. The intent was to better educate and empower advisors for effective SMA delivery, while underscoring Legg Mason’s commitment to and expertise with this important investment vehicle.
What We Did
Tiller conducted public opinion polling to better understand how advisors and investors viewed SMAs — in particular, what investors value most about them — and then launched the results in leading advisor -and investor-focused media. The polling found that investors were overwhelmingly pleased with the performance of their SMAs, and also highly prized the communication, access and visibility that SMAs provide for the investing process. Advisors and investors also agreed that SMA owners tended to be more experienced, knowledgeable and disciplined than mutual fund owners. From Legg Mason’s perspective, the findings showed that SMAs indeed merited a closer look by relationship-minded advisors and committed investors.
On launch, we secured extensive coverage of the findings in Investment News, the foremost nationwide publication for financial advisors; BusinessWeek, with a predominantly affluent audience and many advisors among its readers, and a broad spectrum of other leading financial and business business media. The findings were the focal point of a unique, SMA focused educational website — www.SMAeducation.com — and an advisor value-added program considered one of the most successful in the firm’s history. This win-win program created new visibility and sales for the firm — and greater investor appetite for an investment well suited to their needs and concerns.