New Research: The Secrets HNW Investors Keep from Advisors

Mike Van Wyk is a senior market research manager at American Funds, part of Capital Group. He has 20 years of industry experience and has been with Capital Group for three years. Prior to joining Capital, Mike was director of global strategy development and advanced research methods at Procter & Gamble. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas in Austin and a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Michigan State University. Mike is based in Los Angeles.

I interviewed Mike last week.

Tell us about your role at Capital Group, home of American Funds. How do you integrate your internal market research with that you obtain from outside vendors?

I’m proud of what we do in customer research at Capital Group, because we approach customer research differently. There are three things that make us different. The first is the sheer amount of custom research we do – data collection that is uniquely done on our behalf and that is available only to us and our customers. On any particular day, we have between two and four studies that are actively running in the field collecting data from investors and financial advisors. I think we do as much or more custom research as any other financial services company.

Even though we do a lot of our own custom research, we take great data from anywhere. We tap into the best research that has been done by our competitors, if they make it publicly available and we think it is robust. We also use research that has been done by academics, as well as what the government provides, with census data being one of the key things, and organizations like Pew Research that do great quality focused pieces of work.

The final thing that makes us unique is the type of research we do. We do use some methods that are more standard in the industry, such as surveys and occasionally focus groups. But what is unique is we combine that with ethnographic research where we talk with advisors in their offices and with investors in their homes.