Prioritizing the Next Stage of Publishing
The strategy has reaped rewards. Putting aside its acquisitions, Asset International saw organic growth of "well over 16 percent" last year, Casella says. The company expects organic growth of 17 percent to 18 percent in 2012.
PE: In what key new directions are you looking to take your company?
Jim Casella: We try to take brands that have strong brand equity and, where possible, move them into other markets rather than create a new brand each time we look to expand into another country. For example, Plansponsor is a brand we acquired when we bought Asset International in late 2008–early 2009. It is well known in the retirement market in the U.S., but was never taken outside of the U.S. We looked first to see if there were comparable brands we could acquire in the U.K., and we finally decided to launch Plansponsor Europe out of London.
When we look at a market, we look at a full integrated offering—everything from Plansponsor's full digital offering to integrated events. We just held, in November, the first Plansponsor Europe event in Barcelona. … It has become one of our key brand offerings. …
About 60 percent of our business is data-analytics subscriptions focused on fund flows to the mutual fund and bond fund industries. … [Digital advertising] is the fastest-growing revenue stream for us—it grew over 50 percent this past year, and in the prior year, [it] grew over 90 percent. …
PE: Why did you choose these new directions? What trends argue for their implementation?
Casella: I think … the world has become a smaller place, and to create value longer-term, you need to be able to create a global-information services company. Probably the company that has done the best job up until now doing this in the IT space—and I'm a little biased because I spent almost 10 years with them—is International Data Group [IDG]. They have IDC on the research side and brands like Computer World and PC World that span the globe. In the financial services area, we have not seen somebody be able to put that all together. There are strong examples on the data-offering [side] from Morningstar and Bloomberg—and Bloomberg is moving more global with its content—but we see opportunity in financial services to really be global. When you can say to a client, 'What market do you want to penetrate and how we can help you do that?'— it's a very different strategy.