One major challenge facing investment banking and private equity firms today is transparency (or lack thereof). We’re constantly hearing that information share and cross-team coordination remain a huge hurdle for these firms to overcome, and that there’s few guide resources available for righting the course.
These problems frequently arise in growing organizations. We see transparency breakdowns occur most often when firms expand into new geographic territories, pursue a new investment mandate, open a new office, or hire a new team member.
When these events occur, it’s extremely important to have clear, defined and technology-supported processes to rely on. In this article, we provide our top three tips for better managing data cross-functionally, and for maintaining transparency across teams, especially during times of increased activity and growth.
1 – Make time for the simple CRM data wins
We get it: when you’re heads down on a deal, or if it’s a season seemingly endless travel or chaos, data cleanliness isn’t going to be the biggest priority. Data issues should become a higher priority, however, when they slow you down or prevent you from being able to execute on a task as desired.
Recently, we heard from a firm that had over 200 employees spread across 10 U.S. cities, all of whom are organized by their different industry specializations. While it was no fun task, the firm leadership decided that all of this internal team information should be housed within its CRM. This allowed the team members to see which time zone each other were in, what the preferred method of contact is, what their specializations are, and what deals they are/have been involved in.
While these small procedural tweaks to CRM data seem simple, and perhaps trivial, they’re actually hugely impactful. From where we sit, using technology to connect teams more quickly and efficiently is no longer an option – it’s a must. Firms should designate time at least quarterly to review whether or not to dedicate time and resources to these types of data transparency initiatives. And chances are, if it’s nagging one of your employees, it’s affecting others, too.
2 – Don’t slack on internal memos
As the firm grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a firm grasp on institutional knowledge. While your team undoubtedly has the firm’s value proposition and elevator pitch mastered, they may struggle to recall certain historical detail or anecdotal elements or the firm’s DNA.
We heard from an investment banking firm that recently mandated detailed record-keeping in its pursuit of higher transparency. How did they tackle this? First, they listened to employee complaints.
In the process, they learned that every team member needed to understand the ins and outs of a deal, even if they didn’t participate in it. This prompted them to begin logging what they call “Deal Memos” – detailed documents that highlight the steps taken to get a deal to close. They then upload the memos to their CRM, and tag every individual and group involved. That way, when a team member goes to contact that entity, they have a more transparent view of the existing relationship.
Don’t have time to write a detailed memo? We suggest simply recording yourself (using Voice Memos on iOs or a similar app) talking about the deal conversationally. The details uncovered in a conversation can be invaluable to your team, who can then listen to the recording like a podcast. Transcribing these recordings into text is also very easy (we recommend services like Rev who charge based on the length of the recording). And if you’re worried about security, select which team members should have access using your CRM.
3 – Leave no man behind
While creating transparency across your organization is no small, quick-turn task, it’s an extremely important area to focus on. And as many dealmakers will tell you, the relationship-oriented nature of the private capital markets demands that information flow easily and regularly from person-to-person.
That’s why it’s a critical mission to train every team member – from Analyst to Partner – on the importance of regularly logging their business development activities, as well as the consequences of creating redundancies and errors. It’s not enough to install simple measures such as ‘required field’ functions to help your team avoid inputting incomplete data: you must stop human errors and break old, bad habits before they start.
Is your firm at a crossroads, or experiencing a wave of change? Let our team of experts help you execute on an organizational strategy that will not only make your employees happier and more self-sufficient day-to-day, they’ll close more deals.