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How to Develop a Profit-Focused Strategy


How to Develop a Profit-Focused Strategy

In this article, Luiz Zorzella explains how a skillful strategy identifies profitable areas.

Financial services leaders often overlook the importance of your decision regarding which segments, markets, channels, and products to focus on.

One of the reasons is that, while money moves freely, the effort to build channels, brands, products, trust, relationships, and physical infrastructure, can be humongous. Large insurance companies can take more than a year to implement simple changes to existing products.

Thus, short of dramatic strategic moves like divestitures, acquisitions or expansions, the business of a financial services company seems relatively pre-determined.

If you invested years building a business in, for example, private banking, chances are that you will provide private banking products to your customers next year.

Of course, if there is a tectonic shift, like the one we experienced when the COVID pandemic hit, you may re-think your business.

However, there is compelling evidence that choosing the right segment-market-product-channel is the most impactful decision you will make.

Take the example of annuities. From 2015 to 2019, independent agents and independent broker-dealers accounted for more than 90% of the growth of this product in the US. Agents accounted for two-thirds of this growth and broker-dealers for the remaining one-third.

However, upon closer examination, these two channels exhibited very different behaviours. Independent agents benefitted from strong product tailwinds. As a result, we can attribute over $4.4 billion – half of their growth to product growth (the proverbial “tide that lifts all boats”) and only $3.7 billion to channel share capture (the proverbial “eating someone else’s fish”).

On the other hand, broker-dealers – a channel that grew only half as much as agents in total, increased by an astonishing $13 .2 billion from channel capture. This channel was highly competitive and successful. Yet, their strongest products severely underperformed and shrunk by $9.4 bi. As a result, they had to row twice as hard just to stay in place. And, in the end, despite capturing 3x the channel share captured by agents, they grew only half as much in total.

Key points include:

  • Triangulate historical market data

  • Determining the implications of trends

  • Defining adequate governance for the key indicators