In the News

Happenings, ideas and insights that caught our eye

Morgan Stanley: high stakes, high rewards! 

Here’s a case study in the making: Colm Kelleher, head of sales, trading and investment banking at Morgan Stanley, is spearheading an ambitious initiative to get the retail brokerage and wealth management organizations working together to drive higher profits in both businesses.

To quote the NYT: “Morgan Stanley has a horrible history of getting these groups to work together,” said Richard Bove, an analyst with Rafferty Capital Markets….But, if Mr. Gorman can make it work, Mr. Bove predicted the chief [executive] could return Morgan Stanley to its former glory, “albeit in a different form.”

To achieve big results, Kelleher will have to reinvent/rethink underpinnings of the business that will promote Gorman’s strategy – or block it if left unattended: for example, adjusting and managing expectations in the retail branches, changing mindsets and breaking down silos, re-envisioning performance (what does success look like?), designing compensation and rewards, and fixing frictions between the business cultures.

There are 35 initiatives in the works. Let’s vente tente gonflable hope the MS teams hit all the right touch-points.

High profile companies in the throes of image crises: How truthful are they willing to be? 

Jonathan Baskin raises this question in “The Real Creative Challenge…” Ad Age, 2/12/13. Baskin says the real marketing challenge is how to explain the realities of the business (including external realities) to your customers “to help lower the likelihood that consumer expectations will be missed or shocked.”  Think Coke (sugar and obesity), Boeing (787 batteries), and Burger King (horse meat in UK hamburgers).

True, this is a major issue for the CMO; it’s also one that should be on the radar of all corporate and business leaders and managed with rigor. Some of the obvious questions: what issues or risks should we anticipate, assess and track for this business; how do we avoid a crisis in the first place, and what’s the plan to manage the crisis, should it occur?

Managing communications around brand-sensitive crises is tougher today. Social and digital media now divulge the uncomfortable secrets of business that used to be swept under the carpet or handled by the company’s controlled media. Leaders need to get their messages out effectively and quickly – or others, including their own employees, will speak the truth or spin it to the detriment of the brand.

What business leaders can learn from the GM bailout

We’ve heard about the red tape and bureaucracy – too hard to get things done with required government approvals and layers of input. Charlie Gasparino goes deeper in his column in the New York Post. His punch line: “In the end, the lesson to take from [former GM CEO] Whitacre’s muddled message about GM and its partnership with government: Be wary of handouts.

Gasparino says, “As Whitacre notes, the partial IPO that the bankers allowed went well. On that day, GM didn’t just get a few additional orders for its $20.1 billion offering (then the largest IPO ever) but orders worth $86 billion — enough, he notes, that GM ‘could have easily repaid the government the entire $43 billion it owed, and given taxpayers a nice profit for their time and trouble on top of that.’ But they didn’t.” The government had other agendas.

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