In a crowded marketplace, where advisors have a tremendous range of suppliers to choose from, a supplier’s credibility is absolutely central to its clients’ willingness to support it.  Credibility is based on truthfulness and dependability. When investment managers deliver on these dimensions, they can often maintain their place on an advisor’s product shelf.  When they compromise their credibility, however, they are either put in the penalty box indefinitely or marginalized completely in favour of more credible competitors.  To measure Canadian investment managers’ credibility, Credo garners reaction from advisors on four key market statements:

  1. AGF delivers what it promises
  2. You cannot believe what AGF say about themselves*
  3. The experiences AGF delivers make me wary about claims*
  4. AGF is an organization you can trust

This report, provides details and discusses the determinants of Credo’s Credibility construct for AGF Investments, including our measurements of each of these items over the last seven years.

Each of the eight constructs in Credo’s brand health model is created by combining the results of financial advisors rating their suppliers against marker statements that are similar to those above.  An overview of the major constructs in Credo’s predictive model of advisor support is available in Credo’s extensive advisor assessment of this company.

CREDIBILITY

Credibility for AGF is presented in Exhibit 1 below. It shows that in Credo’s most recent measurement, AGF was in the 89th percentile relative to its competitors. We can see that the overall credibility trend for AGF is positive.  This has been the case since 2014.

Each of our brand health model’s constructs is underpinned by a number of statements that speak to the constructs’ theme. The four items that underpin credibility include:

  • Delivers what it promises
  • Cannot believe what they say about themselves*
  • Experiences make me wary about claims*
  • This is an organization you can trust

Note: Questions or statements marked with a star have had their scales reversed.

Exhibit 1. Credibility for AGF: percentile ranking over time

“AGF was once a really strong player.  They fell off my map when their performance fell apart and their people couldn’t get it together.  It’s clear that they’ve regained some order, though, and that they are on track again.  Good for them to have maintained their independence the whole time… that integrity contributes to their credibility.”

1. Delivers what it promises

Advisors are asked by Credo to react to the statement, “this company delivers what it promises.” Advisors make their willingness to support decisions based in large part on their assessment of a supplier’s commitment to delivering; their dependability. This statement speaks specifically to the level of dependability advisors believe their suppliers have. When the dependability of a supplier is compromised, advisors’ willingness to work with that supplier wanes dramatically. While a supplier delivers what it promises, it can be seen as dependable.  This is an essential component that underpins credibility.

Delivers what it promises for AGF Investments is currently in the 84th percentile.  The percent rank achieved this year is slightly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (78th). The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (45th).  The overall trend for AGF is positive.

The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year average of all other mutual fund companies (53rd). The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period on all other mutual fund companies (56th).  Also, the rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the same year average of all other companies (57th).

Exhibit 2: Percentile rank of AGF relative to competitors against marker statement, “This company delivers what it promises.”

“on really short notice, their [inside wholesaler] delivered a presentation deck that was exactly what I needed for a client meeting… it’s the kind of service that makes a difference”

 

“Blake actually came to a meeting we had and he talked about the commitment that he and the company have made to delivering better …that goes a long way”

 

2. Cannot believe what they say about themselves*

AGF has a small army of sales representatives — wholesalers — calling on retail advisors across the country.  These wholesalers are further supported by inside sales reps.  Together these sales teams work with marketing departments to convey messages about their firms. Credo tests message credibility by asking advisors if they feel they can believe what they are saying about themselves.  Desirable scoring against this marker statement actually requires disagreement with the statement; for analysis, this statement’s polarity is reversed.

Cannot believe what they say about themselves for AGF Investments is in the 84th percentile.  The overall trend for AGF is positive.  The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (41st) and the rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the seven-years measured period (34th) reported here.

The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period on all other companies (52nd).  The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the same year average of all other companies (53rd) and the rank achieved this year is also significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year average of all other companies (46th).

Exhibit 3: Percentile rank of AGF relative to competitors against marker statement, “You cannot believe what this company says about itself.” (NB: Reversed Statement)

“my experience with [AGF] has been really positive in the last three years. I believe they have fixed the problems they were having in their fund administration… and they are back on track.”

 

“my experience of late is that their integrity is as good as any company in the business… if they say it, they do it.”

 

3. Experiences make me wary about claims*

Is an advisor ever left with a nagging sense that what they have been told just does not hold water as well as it might? When this situation occurs, it is because the credibility of the supplier’s tactical initiatives are less than ideal. It is, after all, the experiences that a company delivers that create their brand. An incongruence between the advisor’s experiences and the messaging they have received create doubt… and doubt undermines credibility. A supplier’s claims should never leave an advisor wary.

Experiences make me wary about claims for AGF Investments is in the 86th percentile.  The percent rank achieved this year is higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (62nd).  The percent rank achieved against this marker statement this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period (38th).  The overall trend for AGF is positive.

The percent rank achieved this year (86th) is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year average of all other companies (49th).  It is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the same year average of all other companies (53rd).  The rank achieved this year on this dimension is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period by all other companies (53rd).

Exhibit 4: Percentile rank of AGF relative to competitors against marker statement, “My experiences with this company make me wary of the claims it makes.” (NB: Reversed Statement)

“I feel as though they’ve gotten a lot better… one of the guys in the office is really down on them but… my experience with [AGF] has been different from his.  They have delivered for me.”

 

“They’ve messed up just too often.  I’m not sure what it would take for me to want to let them back in the door. There’s other companies that don’t give me the run around.”

 

4. This is an organization you can trust

Credo is very direct with the matter of trust.  We have advisors react to the statement, “this is an organization you can trust.”  A high degree of trust sustains the credibility that a fund company must have with its advisor clients.  When advisors lose faith in a supplier – when they feel they cannot trust their supplier – they seek alternatives.  Trust is fundamental to credibility which is, in turn, a key to advisors’ willingness to work with any supplier.

As a measured marker statement, “This is an organization you can trust,” for AGF Investments, is most recently scored in the 97th percentile.  The percent rank achieved this year is slightly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year (86th).  The overall trend for AGF is positive.  The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the seven-year measured period (55th) that is reported here.

The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the previous year average of all other companies (53rd). It is significantly higher than the average rank achieved over the measured period on all other mutual fund companies (57th). The percent rank achieved this year is significantly higher than the rank achieved in the same year average of all other companies (57th).

Exhibit 5: Percentile rank of AGF relative to competitors against marker statement, “This is an organization you can trust.”

“when you’ve got people like Buddy working for your organization, people you can really trust to come through when you need it, you’re going to keep your place in  my book… it may not be a big place, because my business is changing, but it’s an important place.”

 

“I know that if Winston says it’s going to get done, it’s going to get done.  I trust him… that makes all the difference.”

 

“AGF screwed me over by telling a client one thing when I didn’t even know they were talking to them… I mean, it’s pretty clear I’m the advisor… and I don’t trust them to not do it again.  With a move like that, you don’t get a second chance.”

AGF is clearly on a very positive roll with respect to credibility that began in 2015.  It is a company that has earned the consideration of Canada’s advice community.  It’s not all roses, though; the company has to continue its development efforts and it has to remain focused on achieving successes where it can.  Other Credo analysis shows clearly that AGF has effectively targeted a unique segment of the Canadian advice community where the brand’s relevance remains strong.