Although online media are still gaining in importance, our research has found that print media are a vital channel to reach Dutch institutional investors

Key points:

  • A third of Dutch institutions prefer to receive asset manager communications in paper/print format
  • Transparency, clarity, relevancy and consistency are important for institutional investors across Europe, but Dutch institutions place a greater emphasis on client services than their counterparts in other countries
  • Our research confirmed that the Netherlands is still at the forefront of ESG investing, with all respondents expecting an increase in sustainable investing. ESG is also the topic most respondents would like to hear more about

Dutch institutional investors are most interested in receiving communications about various asset classes and how these can benefit their portfolio. Apart from equity and fixed income, they are especially interested in learning more about alternatives, infrastructure and private equity. Although online channels are dominant, a third of institutions prefer paper/print over any other communication format, Fundamental Research has found. This is a higher proportion than in other markets surveyed.

Asset managers are considered the most reliable information source, followed by consultants. More than half of respondents also consider colleagues and data providers to be reliable sources of information.  

Managers wishing to communicate with this audience should focus on being transparent and clear, and provide information that is targeted, relevant and concise. This is similar to the communication preferences of institutional investors in the other countries, with the exception that Dutch institutional investors seem to place greater emphasis on client services such as receiving a quick response to queries and the broadness of the account management team.

Frontrunner in responsible investing

Between September 2019 and March 2020, Fundamental Research questioned institutional investors in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, the US, Germany and France about their views on global trends, asset manager communication, manager selection, their media consumption habits, and their top asset manager brands.

The findings for the Dutch market once again confirmed that the Netherlands is at the forefront of sustainable investing. All respondents indicated they plan to increase their ESG investments in the next 12 months. Furthermore, a manager’s ESG approach is a decisive factor in picking the winner in the manager selection process and ESG is the topic Dutch institutional investors are most interested in hearing about.

Manager selection Netherlands

When asked about which long-term trend will have the biggest impact on the investment strategy, climate change was ranked highest, again indicating the Netherlands’ focus on sustainability. This was followed by longevity, which is unsurprising because most respondents in the sample represented pension funds.

Low interest rates were also mentioned as a key concern. Dutch pension funds are highly affected by them as they make it harder and more expensive to meet expected returns. Low interest rates also have an impact on future liabilities, thus lowering the coverage ratio of DB schemes. The strict  regulatory environment in the Netherlands makes the search for alternative options challenging for pension funds.

Other findings of our Dutch Institutional Investor Research include:

  • LinkedIn is widely used for professional purposes by institutional investors.
  • Performance/track record is by far the decisive factor in the first stage of selecting a manager, while the investment strategy and process becomes the top criteria when picking the winning manager among the short-listed candidates. The importance of most other factors remains relatively stable between both stages, except for the manager’s ESG approach, which increases by 20% in the second stage to become the third most important factor.
  • In terms of brand preference, BlackRock is strong in the Dutch institutional market as it is at the top of respondents’ minds for brand recall, standout communication and propensity to buy (i.e. the managers investors are most likely to buy funds from). Other brands mentioned by Dutch institutional investors are Robeco, Kempen CM and NN IP.​

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