Defining The “New Normal”

Defining The “New Normal”

A recent article in the Harvard Management Update points out that “as therapeutic as the desire for a return to business as usual is, it’s simply unattainable.” We agree. Given the confluence of recent events; a new kind of bear market (even for us industry veterans); a general and global economic malaise, continual shifts in customer and investor expectations, and finally, war, it is clear that simply returning to “normal” isn’t (and wasn’t, even before the 2008 crash) a viable option for business growth. So what is?

Despite our collective (and very natural) wish for a return to routine and the familiar, we’d like to suggest that what we are really faced with now is a unique and powerful opportunity. Circumstances are forcing the development of a “new normal,” a requirement that we all get back to business, while knowing that we can’t go back to “before.”

As a practical matter, businesses in general, and financial services firms in particular, must act quickly and decisively to get their businesses back on track to growth, asset retention, and profitability. But back on which track, specifically? And how? Most importantly, what does the “new normal” look like?

For businesses that are in re-building mode because of the 2008 crash, much of this “back on track” work is already taking place. Business models are being examined and re-examined, many people are being included and involved in the decision-making process, and decisions are being continually evaluated and reevaluated. In order for businesses that did not suffer as directly from the recent events to find their new tracks, we suggest that they too must go through an equally rigorous process of internal and market review.

“Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.”

                                                            — Spencer Johnson, M.D.
                                                                 Who Moved My Cheese

Defining “New Normal” for Your Firm

There is no one single right answer for any firm or team, but we’d like to share a list of key tactics we continually see as contributing to a firm’s ability to “roll with the punches” and come out a winner.

  • Thoroughly diagnose your firm’s revenue stream. Where is it coming from? Where are you losing ground? What’s the ROI of the various sales tactics you are using now? Figure out what’s happening and move quickly to fix what’s broken and do more of what’s working.
  • Master the art of operational efficiency. Is your organization working as effectively as it could be? Are you losing assets and clients because of holes in your relationship management or client service approach? Scrutinize your organization (and listen carefully to the troops as they usually know better than management what’s going on with clients and the organization) for efficiencies and new ways of running your business.
  • Analyze your sales and marketing cost structure. Are you getting the maximum value possible out of all of your efforts? How are you measuring the effectiveness of your sales and marketing expenditures? Are your sales and marketing teams working together efficiently?
  • Communicate-up, down and sideways-and then communicate some more. Know that most people won’t have really heard the message until you feel like you can’t stand hearing yourself say it anymore.
  • Talk to your firm’s clients. Find out what are they dealing with right now and what they are thinking. Where are their businesses going, and what do they need from your firm? Then do it.
  • Restate the company’s “story” or rewrite it altogether. Make sure everyone understands and can articulate the “elevator pitch” (what the company stands for and how it’s offerings solve someone’s problems). “Who are we and what are we doing here?” are the questions people ask as they search for meaning in everything they are doing. Give people a “platform” to stand on together-a way of understanding the important value they add in the world. Make sure the story is meaningful, understood and frequently repeated.

The Collaborative specializes in assisting investment managers and financial services firms to increase revenues, streamline operations, and decrease sales and marketing costs. If you’re wrestling with what to do next, we can help.