Internet Sales Channel Strategy Research for an Investment Banking SBU

We hope that you will find the following case to be helpful.  If, after reading, you would like to learn more about our experience, please contact Dan Plachta at dplachta@bedfordgroupconsulting.com.

Client Profile:
An $8 billion corporate/investment-banking strategic business unit within a top-3 U.S. Financial Services Company.

Situation:
The corporate/investment banking unit was considering the value of creating a web presence in the Internet revolution of the mid 1990s. There was great skepticism among senior executives of the value of investing in an online entrée point for the group. The consumer divisions already had successful, award-winning sites. The Internet was perceived more as a place to promote services (brochure-ware) than to provide direct access to services.

Contribution:
As leader of the in-house Internet study team for this division, research was designed to gain insights into client visions of how the Internet could make their corporate/investment banking needs more valuable. Since the Internet was very young at this stage, it was important to listen primarily to thought leaders; client who were involved in technology and could understand what the promise of the Internet could be. CFOs and CEOs of large high technology firms in Silicon Valley were recruited for a series of focus group sessions.

Findings:
A resounding endorsement came from the research that the Internet was not a sales option for this division. It was not to be used to sell products to clients, but to provide better products, easier access to products, and better communications and servicing between the bank and its clients.

Recommendation:

  • Change strategies from developing the Internet as a means of providing information to clients to creating product access on the Internet.
  • Quickly increase the velocity of efforts to build the Internet process by creating a central authority, while establishing expert build-out teams for each product/industry group.

Client Impact:

  • Senior management quickly expanded the resources devoted to the effort.
  • What was initially an investigative study team driven by marketing grew within a year to a freestanding, full-time management team which today has a budget in excess of $30 million.