The Details

This is an analysis of Sun Life as a product supplier to Canada’s independent financial advisors; advisors with whom individual investors build relationships and consult as they manage their wealth, investments, and often, insurance needs.

Credo’s Methodology

Each year, to generate the annual scores that are reported below, Credo asks more than 1,000 randomly identified personal financial advisors from across the country to react to a standardized battery of brand measurement statements. (Note: if you are interested in reviewing either the demographics, business profiles or psychographics of advisors who indicate they are supporters of Sun Life.) Together these statements comprise one of three key strategic frameworks Credo uses to assess Canada’s asset-management brands.

Credo invites only advisors who indicate that they are currently working with a specified company to rate that company. This ensures that we are not collecting perception data from advisors who are not adequately familiar with the subject company. By applying this method across all of the companies we monitor, we achieve consistent, comparable brand-measurement statistics.

The results

There are eight graphs in Exhibit 1 below. Each graph represents a separate important dimension of Credo’s model of Advisors’ Willingness to Support suppliers (pictured in Exhibit 2.) Credo uses this model to measure and predict the support advisors will offer a given company.

The data that underpin the model is based on the experiences the company is delivering to the advisor community. Sun Life’s results are presented in the context of the broader industry. This model is represented by the pyramid that is shown in Exhibit 2, below.

Exhibit 1: Key elements of Sun Life’s brand over time

Exhibit 2. Credo’s Willingness to Support Pyramid

Willingness to Support

An advisor’s Willingness to Support a given company is at the top of our Brand Credibility Pyramid. Suppliers to financial advisors strive to be strong on this essential component of the model. Credo contends that the main value of a brand is its ability to help a product supplier sustain its sales and retain the assets it manages. Advisors’ willingness to support the suppliers they keep on their product shelves is justified by the pillars immediately beneath the top of the pyramid:Quality, Comfort and Convenience. Advisors’ Willingness to Support Sun Life currently stands at the 73rd percentile in the industry. The percent rank achieved this year is slightly lower than the average rank achieved over the measured period (75th). The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (65th). There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time.

Quality

An advisor’s willingness to support a supplier is predicated, in part, on the company delivering an offering that is high quality. And while each advisor will define quality in his own terms, Credo’s model effectively reduces this important pillar to a single measurable statistic for each industry competitor and for the industry overall. (Read more about quality here.) Sun Life’s score with respect to Quality sits at the 78th percentile in the industry. There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time. The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (59th). The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (54th).

Comfort

Advisors require a relatively high level of Comfort with a brand before they present it to a client. All things being equal, if a company can make an advisor more comfortable with its brand, it increases the likelihood that the advisor will choose to use its products relative to a competitor’s products. Comfort is critical pillar on which willingness to support sits because advisors put their own reputations on the line each and every time they recommend a company’s product to a client. Advisors’ comfort with Sun Life is currently at the 89th percentile percentile in the industry. The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (70th). The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (74th). There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time.

Convenience

Companies that make it Convenient, or easy to do business with them, reduce the likelihood that an advisor will search for alternatives that compete with them. It is a highly competitive environment and there is a broad array of solutions available to Canada’s financial advisors. If suppliers do not make it easy to do business with them, it is not difficult for an advisor to find an alternative. Sun Life is in the 73rd percentile in the industry with respect to convenience. The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (58th). The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (59th). There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time.

Clarity

In the minds of advisors, clarity, is a central element of Credo’s brand measurement framework. Companies whose value propositions are well understood can more easily achieve a level of credibility with their customer base. Based on Credo’s research with advisors, Sun Life’s brand currently sits at the 78th percentile with respect to clarity among advisors. There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time. The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (52nd). The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (22nd).

Credibility

The degree to which a brand truthfully delivers on its promises and the degree to which an advisor feels she can depend on that brand. When perceptions of truthfulness and dependability are strong, so is credibility. This factor is a central component of Credo’s brand health model. Sun Life’s brand currently sits on the 73rd percentile. The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (41st). The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (59th). There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time.

Consistency and Congruence

The bottom right corner of Credo’s pyramid (and the second facet in Exhibit 1) represent Consistency and Congruence. A supplier is much more likely to be well understood and appreciated for its value proposition if its managers consistently deliver both messages and experiences that are congruent with an advisor’s expectations. Consistency and Congruence are therefore essential building blocks for establishing clarity, a higher-level factor in the model. With respect to consistency and congruence, Sun Life is currently rated by its advisor supporters in the 78th percentile within the industry. The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (55th). The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (54th). There are not enough data to reliably identify a trend over time.

Making the research actionable and team members accountable

After measuring a brand’s position in the market relative to competitors, Credo is in a position to help facilitate change. We have a proven facilitation process called STAR (Strategic and Tactical Acceleration Retreat) that is designed to help companies identify and develop specific strategies and tactics, that are converted into a well-defined, actionable plan for addressing a strategic issue in as few as three days. Our process produces a plan whereby all team members are accountable.

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