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Navigating Regulatory Waters: Friend or Food? How To Stay Ahead in Financial Services

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Frequent communication was crucial early in the lockdown, but now it's probably time to take your foot off the pedal with email blasts. 

1. Market feedback

Intelligence about the impact of COVID-19 on specific financial services sectors, not published by media. 

A. Super Funds

We’re seeing a lot of positives. Funds of all sizes have now ‘baked in’ improved rapid response capability, risk awareness, agility in management and improved use of technology. These were all needed to step up in response to the lockdown and staff risk, impact of C19 on members, including market volatility and early release payments (ERPs), and to handle communication and liquidity differently in this context.

That said, they’re saturated with information currently. Rather than being information hungry, as there were early on in this, fund managers are telling us that institutional clients are stepping back from content such as email, webinars and campaigns, even where it’s pure market commentary.

With the urgency of the “fast breaking news” stage of market disruption over, sophisticated and institutional investors want less “broadcast” content and more thinking time, or insight that’s deeper and helps navigate the new unknowns.

As a result, we’re seeing funds - and other sophisticated audiences such as CEOs - appreciate “deeper” formats: more thoughtful content, less often, with a stretch into harder to address questions, such as how to make decisions and take action despite ambiguity, uncertainty and unprecedented times.

In other words, quality over quantity.

2. Management responses

This section outlines how CEOs and their leadership teams are responding

Overall many of you have now had time to pause, re-group and move forward. Sometimes that means adjustment. Sometimes it means radical change. Most face lower revenue, a few see, and are able to navigate into, growth opportunities, and almost all are more cost conscious.

A. Mid-sized super funds

For mid-sized funds relatively unaffected by ERPs, leaders have some unexpected breathing space, including from regulatory pressures such as APRA’s heatmaps (which we don’t hear much about now). That relief happens as long as the fund is managing its liquidity pressures, volatile markets and operations well and keeping the regulator happy that all this is, and will remain, true.

B. Large and small fund managers

The general theme is of settling in for the long haul. People have had time to rethink what the future might look like and make more fundamental, longer term changes.

The impact of COVID19 is starting to be felt for many, including regulatory action such as valuation of assets for SMSFs. While some were already moving to more timely valuations, that proactive action was now being forced through, and such market valuations can have a negative psychological impact.

3. CEO guidance regarding coronavirus responses

This section provides our guidance on management and communication responses

A. Dig deeper than email open rates as a content metric.
  • Click through rates, time on page and unsubscribes are useful metrics but it’s important to go beyond these.
  • Try overlaying such metrics to frequency, type of content and (importantly) news and market events. This will give you a better perspective on what works and why, and how to predict audience needs.
  • Do this going forward, if it’s too hard to do so retrospectively. You will start to get better at predictive content planning and anticipatory content.
B. Reduce your quantity and increase the quality and “engageability” of content.

Consider if broadcast is the right move for a given piece of content – it may be that an interactive webinar, 1:1 meeting or small workshop is better than a more one-sided “stand and deliver”.

Others are already doing this. Some of this you can pick up from participants who shared their own sucesses at this recent virtual events .

4. Appendix: How to help us help you

This briefing is collective intelligence gathered, anonymised and shared with you by my firm for the greater good. We’ve taken the view, based on client feedback, that the collective benefit to you all takes precedence over normal competitive pressures at a time like this. 

This is an excerpt from one of our client COVID-19 CEO response briefings. For more COVID-19 response resources and guidance, visit our COVID-19 Response page

If you’d like to discuss adjusting your communication strategy for the current times, please call us or fill out our contact form here.

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