How to communicate your value.
By Sean Stein Smith
Communication is, of course, the key to any successful business or organization. Without effectively communicating the value proposition that the business is offering, the business will not be in business for very long.
Customers, business partners, regulators and providers of capital all need to be kept informed and to understand the value that the business model, as well as associated products and services, is offering the marketplace. This concept, the idea of value communication, is taught in every Business 101 course at every college/university in the country. It is so commonplace as to be treated as common sense.
Why then are financial professionals sometimes behind the proverbial 8-ball when it comes to such matters?
Financial professionals are hired, usually, for their quantitative skills and ability to “make sense” of what to others might look like a random assortment of numbers and ratios. This analytic and quantitative ability has been honed through academic training, professional certifications and on-the-job training. These skill sets are what has been traditionally expected of financial professionals, and therefore, the marketplace has rewarded individuals who have been able to deliver.
Business as usual is simply not going to be effective going forward. The marketplace is demanding more information from firms, and most of this information is quantitative in nature. Investors, regulators, other stakeholders and the marketplace in general are all appreciative of quantitative figures and metrics that are sometimes easier to interpret than narrative descriptions.
It seems that financial professionals are a shoo-in to take a more prominent role in the creation, refinement and delivery of such information to the marketplace. A major hurdle, however, that could stand in way of both individuals and organizations making the most of the internal talent they possess is a lack of communication. If financial professionals are unable to effectively communicate the value and flexibility that they can offer the organization, how are management and/or clients supposed to be aware of it? A lack of effective communication and business skills is a byproduct of the very education and technical training that make financial professionals such subject matter experts regarding financial information.
For every problem, however, there is a solution. A short, non-exhaustive checklist of suggested tips to assist financial professionals in effectively communicating is as follows:
- Grab the reader’s attention with a good subject line
- Skip the technical jargon
- Keep it short and to the point
- Identify win-wins for all parties
- Quantify the benefits, i.e., automating process “X” saves departments A and B 20 hours a month
- Give the reader action points to go away with
Again, while not exhaustive, these tips form the foundation for better communicating the value that financial professionals can provide to organizations beyond traditional financial reporting.