Advisors aren’t the only financial professionals struggling to keep their clients in a terrible market. Asset managers, too, are fighting to keep their relationships with institutional investors, such as pension funds and foundations, said a joint report by Investment Metrics and Chatham Partners.

Not surprisingly, institutional investors are deeply disturbed my underperformance. But, just like their counterparts in the retail advisory space, asset managers are finding that a little communication goes a long way to keeping clients on the books for a little while longer, at least.

“It’s analogous with an advisor making clients’ lives as easy as they can,” said Peter Starr, president and CEO of Chatham Partners, a market research firm in Waltham, Mass. “Some things are fundamental, such as doing what you say, but others are more nuanced, such as access to the portfolio management team. It rolls up into what the research shows is correlated to the attributes of the longer-tenured client.”

What works especially well at the institutional level is an investor’s access to the asset manager’s actual portfolio managers’ expertise (21%), clarity of investment reports (20%), problem resolution (13%), frequency of communication (11%) and timeliness of investment reports (10%).

Boiled down, “Confidence in asset managers was shaky at best, and that’s when information is key,” Starr said of the importance of reaching out to clients. “It’s the fabric of what the customer relationship is.”