Why Do Mutual Fund Wholesalers Leave Terrible Voicemails?

Hey I just met you
And this is crazy
But here's my number
So call me maybe.

~ Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”


If someone left me a voicemail message singing “Call Me Maybe,” I would call them back. It’s a catchy tune after all, and let’s face it, in a sea of boring voicemails, a song would be a welcome change. In my opinion, the art of leaving a voicemail is overlooked and under-appreciated. The voicemail is an afterthought – an activity stat in your CRM: “Left message.” (Boom! 1 more activity for me today!) At Havener, we take the voicemail seriously because we understand the goal of a voicemail…

What is the goal of a voicemail message? This is often a question on the pop quizzes we do at our annual meetings. It’s so ingrained in the minds of our team that if they didn’t know the answer, it’d be the equivalent of forgetting their ABCs. The goal of a voicemail message is very simple. Get the person to call you back. That’s it. That’s the only goal of the voicemail message.

Have you ever listened to what your wholesalers say when they leave a voicemail? This is a fun exercise. Pretend you are the advisor and have your wholesalers leave you a voicemail to set up an initial conversation about your mutual fund. What would your wholesalers say? Would you call them back if you were the advisor? Definitely? Maybe? No way in hell? (Be honest.)

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the voicemail would sound something like this:

“Hi, Advisor. It’s Robert Smith calling from Super Long Name Asset Management. We have an international equity mutual fund that has done really well. The PMs have been managing money since the beginning of time and are focused on finding undervalued securities in non-US markets. Wanted to give you an introduction to the fund and see if it might be of interest. Again it’s Robert Smith from… (Hint: At this point, the advisor has most likely pressed the delete button or fallen asleep.)

How many wholesaler voicemails do you think advisors receive every day? And how many of them sound like the above? It’s similar to calling a girl you want to date and saying, “Hey, Girl. It’s Bob. Just got back from the gym, went tanning and did some laundry. Running out now to get my awesome car washed. Give me a call back so I can tell you more about how great I am, and we can make some plans for Saturday.” That guy doesn’t get calls back. Not even maybe.

A wholesaler’s voicemail is typically about whom? The mutual fund wholesaler’s voicemail is usually about himself, his firm, and his mutual fund. Call me crazy, but perhaps the advisor would be more apt to call back if your wholesaler left the advisor a voicemail that was about the advisor. Example: “Hi, Advisor. It’s Bob from Super. Hearing from a lot of advisors that they are struggling with how to add more international equity exposure to client portfolios… curious if you guys are in the same boat? If so, would love to learn more about your search and share some ideas that might be interesting. Give me a call at 212-555-SUPER. Incase it’s easier for you, I’ll send you an email too. Thanks and look forward to talking with you soon, Advisor!”

After the wholesaler’s voicemail, then what? If your mutual fund distribution effort is still built around a list, a phone, and some cold calls, then I’m guessing the wholesaler moves on to the next victim, I mean advisor, on the list. Perhaps next week the salesperson calls them again and leaves another terrible voicemail message (and so on ad nauseam). I’ve even heard of some mutual fund salespeople getting angry with the advisor as in, “Hi, Advisor. I have left you multiple messages now and you aren’t calling me back!!!” (speechless)

Assuming that your wholesalers have a strong grasp on the art of leaving a compelling voicemail is as dangerous as assuming that they have a strong grasp on the art of writing a powerful email. The goal of a voicemail is to get a call back, to have a conversation with the advisor about something the advisor will find relevant or useful to them, their clients, and their business - not a conversation about what you think is awesome about yours.

Perhaps it’s time to revisit this small, basic detail in your mutual fund sales strategy. It’s a new year, maybe embrace a new voicemail style, and maybe… your phone starts to ring?

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