Relationships, as my Darling Wife often reminds me, are funny old things, covering a huge range of formats, from fully monogamous to fully open, and every combination in-between. Depending upon requirements and necessities, they can be one-to-one, one-to-many or even a mix of both at different times.
From an asset servicing perspective (which I can assure you is much more interesting than my own), relationships occur at every level—from a bank to its ultimate shareholders, between a firm and the regulators, an entity and its suppliers, and the employees with their customers. At every stage of the corporate relationship spectrum, there are parallels with personal relationships that all parties ignore at their peril.
So what are those parallels, and what can we learn from them? Well, in the initial stages of any relationship (dating, if personal, or RFI or RFP if it’s corporate), it’s all too easy for the head to rule the heart and it’s usually a good idea to take a step back and accept wise(r) counsel, be it from those agreed outside the relationship who can see it more clearly or those who have more experience in those matters (parents or friends, if personal, or a good consultant such as Knadel or Thomas Murray, if corporate). Parameters for, ultimate aims and formal confirmation of the relationship should then be clearly defined and agreed between both parties (the signing of the wedding vows/SLAs).
Then—and this is a crucial part so do listen at the back—in order for a relationship to endure and thrive, both parties should accept that it is a dynamic, always-changing entity, so communication should be open, honest, regular and constructive. This way, any niggles can be dealt with before they come potentially relationship-breakers with the cost, reputational and emotional heartbreak that invariably brings.
For reasons of economic necessity in these cost-conscious times, many firms have done away with relationship managers, their eyes and ears on the market and conduit to the clients, and replaced them with target-driven salespeople who are much of the time set to ‘transmit’ and forget to ‘receive’. Be it on a personal or corporate level, once the other party feels neglected and that they are simply ‘part of the furniture’ as opposed to ‘part of the relationship’, then that is the beginning of the end.
As ever, space constraints prevent me from expanding on this but I’d be delighted to hear any comments you may have on this or any other asset servicing-related subject. Drop me a line at paul@localhost