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Over the last decade or so, industry has realised that nothing has greater impact on a firm’s reputation, growth and profit than the way it interacts with its clients. Subsequently, and alongside the multiplication of available communication channels, client interaction is now one of the main areas of management focus as competitive advantage and differentiation are sought.

When it comes to interaction, investment managers have a distinct advantage over organisations in industries where communication is predominantly client-led, as investment managers largely control the frequency, quality, and content of most the interaction that occurs. However, this advantage is weakened when you accept that the communication that occurs between the provider and the client is not just a channel for contact, but instead actually embodies the products that are being sold.

What I mean by that is that as a sector in a service industry, the products investment managers sell are mostly intangible. Generically, they are managing risk and selling performance, or in other words, the growth of the capital that’s under their management.

Until withdrawal or transfer, the only way that clients receive this product is through their on-going interaction with the firm (they read about performance attribution, see the figures, charts and so forth) and therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the data provided in any interaction is explained and delivered in the best possible way because the communication actually is the product.

It is crucial to ensure that the data provided is explained and delivered in the best possible way because communication actually is the product

That’s a concept that some haven’t realised and it means that the quality of your communication is incredibly important. Therefore, reporting (and all client interaction) should be at the heart of your organisation.

Let’s examine the elements of the original question and how communication affects each of them in a bit more detail.

Reputation

Incidents that cause reputational damage to an organisation occur all the time. Of course, they vary in severity from a momentarily disgruntled customer to significant international outrage – think Deepwater Horizon Oil spill causing BP’s share price crash and several deaths, or Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal that lead to a big drop in share price, legal penalties and subsequent reduction in revenue.

Source: https://www.ft.com/

In Financial Services, there’s been fraud, price fixing, fake accounts, money laundering, tax evasion etc. and companies that have been implicated have also taken significant hits on their share price and reputation. Some of them no longer exist.

But aside from major events like these, there are two main and constant influences on corporate reputation. They are an individual’s past history with an organisation and the extent and type of an individual’s interaction with that organisation, both of which are inexplicably linked to the communication facilitated by the firm.

Growth

The first point I’d like to make here is that it’s a lot less expensive and cumbersome to keep a current customer than to find a new one. I know that and I suspect you do too. Keeping customers for a long time builds a revenue foundation that is more profitable and predictable than finding (and subsequently losing) them, so growth is more easily achieved through the former model. This is easier said than done. Perhaps keeping track of their satisfaction levels and adapting to suit is an answer and we’ve seen that many times, but such a process is fraught with difficulty. Survey bias, cost, the practicalities of completion, sample size etc. convert it into almost guesswork by the time you draw any potentially usable conclusions.

There is a simpler method that is often overlooked and also underrated and that is simply “staying connected”. It’s human instinct to favour what is already known and it’s been proven many times that clients stay when they are kept up to date and feel informed (whether news is good or bad!) and therefore, staying in touch with your clients is of paramount importance. The more authentic a relationship is, the more indispensable it becomes and a huge part of that relationship is the formal communication, and reporting facilitated and distributed by the provider.

Clients stay when they are kept
up to date and feel informed

Profit

When done right, the reporting and communication function (and / or process) can be converted from a cost-centre to a profit generator. Linked to my earlier comments on growth, the communications you produce – including reporting – are crucial in this regard.

How you report your performance, how you present fund factsheets and other information is all part of your marketing mix. They’re marketing (and advertising) tools and should be focussed on with equal, if not more vigour and tenacity as perhaps ‘throw away’ lead generation campaigns. If you treat your reports as such – and imagine them being used in a peer to peer referral that you likely desire, you then realise the power you have and what they could enable.

So, you can see how the way you act with your clients is crucial to the success of your company. Client interaction is going to build your reputation and this will feed your growth and profit. All types of communication are included in this, but client reporting is a significant part. It is marketing, it is your voice and as it’s the representation of your service, it is your product.

Reporting as a Service is cloud-based and provides a complete, scalable, flexible, and future proof client and fund reporting solution. It allows investment firms to provide reporting of the highest quality to their clients without the costs and complications that are associated with on-premise software and supported by in-house IT support teams.

To find out more about Reporting as a Service and how it benefits firms like yours, visit our website at www.opus-nebula.com and contact us personally or via enquiries@opus-nebula.com to arrange a meeting and see a live demonstration of the system.

Andrew Sherlock
Opus Nebula