Developing a Personal Backstory That Resonates With Clients

When asked about their backgrounds, many asset managers often recite a list of their credentials and work experience. For example, a portfolio manager might mention that they’ve been at their firm for 15 years, worked for five years at a previous firm, earned an MBA and a CFA license, and grew up in New Jersey. While this information is helpful, clients and prospects need a deeper understanding of who this person is and what has shaped their approach to asset management. This is where a personal backstory comes in.

Investors and potential clients crave a deeper understanding of the person managing their money. They want to know what shaped their values, what inspired them to pursue a career in asset management, and what personal experiences have influenced their investment strategies.

The human element adds color and dimension to an asset manager’s resume. It’s the story of their triumphs and failures and the moments that define who they are.

Maybe the portfolio manager grew up in poverty and learned the value of hard work and perseverance from their parents. They may have overcome a significant obstacle in their career that taught them the importance of risk management. Or they’re driven by a deep sense of purpose and a desire to impact the world positively.

Whatever the case may be, understanding an asset manager’s backstory can help investors make more informed investment decisions. Because ultimately, it’s not just about the numbers and the data – it’s about the people behind them.

A well-crafted backstory can help managers establish credibility, build trust, differentiate themselves from competitors, and create connections with clients who value a more personalized approach to investing.

It offers a glimpse into the person behind the brand, revealing their personality, values, and perspective. This shows that an executive deeply understands their client’s needs and concerns and is committed to helping them achieve their financial goals. A personal backstory can help build lasting relationships between asset managers and their clients and prospects by humanizing the asset management industry.

Why some asset managers find this challenging 

Developing a personal backstory can be challenging, however. Many portfolio managers have similar backgrounds and education, making it hard to differentiate themselves and create a unique personal brand. It requires digging deeper into their personal experiences and sharing them in a way that sets them apart from others.

Asset management is often seen as data-driven, making it challenging to communicate the human side of the business. However, a personal backstory can help showcase the emotional and unique aspects of a manager’s investment philosophy. This can help them stand out, establish deeper connections with clients, and communicate the values that guide their investment decisions.

Crafting a personal backstory may require executives to be vulnerable and share personal experiences that they may not have shared before. This can be uncomfortable, particularly for more reserved or private people. However, it can be an opportunity to demonstrate authenticity and create a more personal connection with clients.

In addition, crafting a personal backstory may be a new concept for money managers who may have yet to focus on it. It may require a shift in mindset and a willingness to invest time and effort in self-reflection and storytelling.

When developing a backstory, identify the critical elements of your personal and professional background that are unique, relevant, and memorable. Here are some tips for creating your backstory.

Identify your value

Consider what makes you stand out from other asset managers. What skills, experiences, or perspectives do you bring that others in your industry may not? This could be your educational background, work experience, or personal values and interests. Or, it could be your investment philosophy, such as a focus on ESG investing or alternative assets, or your specialized knowledge in a particular industry, such as technology or real estate. For example, if you specialize in impact investing, your backstory might include your passion for making a positive social or environmental impact through your investments.

Define your target audience

For your backstory to resonate with your target audience, understand their needs and concerns. For example, if you primarily work with high-net-worth individuals, you might focus on how you can help them preserve and grow their wealth over time. Or, if you work with younger clients, you might focus on how you can help them plan for their long-term financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house or starting a business.

Craft your narrative

Then, craft a narrative that tells your story. A narrative should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a cohesive theme that ties everything together. Your backstory should highlight the essential experiences or events that have shaped your approach to asset management and demonstrate how you have applied those lessons in your current role. Emphasize why your background is essential to your target audience. Avoid exaggerating or inventing details to make your story more interesting; this can backfire and damage credibility.

Highlight how you’ve helped your clients

Give examples of how your narrative helped your clients solve their problems or meet their goals. When sharing impact examples, it’s essential to highlight the positive impact that your investment strategies have had on your clients. This might include achieving strong returns, helping clients achieve their financial goals, or supporting financial advisors with their clients. By highlighting the positive impact of your approach, you can create a more compelling and motivating narrative that resonates with potential clients.

Be authentic, use examples, and tell stories 

It’s important to be authentic. This means being honest about your experiences and avoiding exaggeration or embellishment. A genuine backstory will be more effective in creating a personal connection with potential clients.

Using concrete examples and anecdotes can help bring your backstory to life and make it more relatable to potential clients. For example, you might share a story about how a particular experience early in your career influenced your investment philosophy or how you helped a client achieve their financial goals.

Storytelling techniques can make your backstory more engaging and memorable. This might include using vivid imagery, creating a sense of suspense or tension, or using humor to make a point. You can create a narrative that captures the attention of potential clients and helps them remember you and your firm.

Practice and start telling your backstory

Once you have developed your backstory that includes impact stories to share, it’s crucial to practice telling it in a natural and engaging way. Practice delivering your narrative to friends, colleagues, or even a coach. Ask for feedback on refining your approach.

Then use it regularly to connect with your clients and prospects. Consider incorporating it into your website, social media profiles, and other marketing materials, in client and prospect meetings, in thought leadership content, such as blog posts, articles, or webinars, and at industry events or networking opportunities.

Your backstory can be a differentiator in a crowded market. Remember that your backstory is not just a collection of facts and figures – it’s a powerful tool for building trust and connecting with those you hope to serve. Take the time to craft a thoughtful and engaging narrative that showcases your unique perspective, experience, and values. Doing so can build a strong foundation for long-term client relationships and help your business thrive.

Related: Thought Leaders vs Influencers in Asset Management – What’s the Difference?