In today’s digital era, a lot of investment bankers are relying on mobile devices more and more to show prospects and clients opportunities. Nowadays, no one has the time or will to read a huge report; prospects and clients expect an interactive experience where the story can be told on one page as the discussion evolves.
However, digital supports raise some concerns like risks management, compliance and regulatory expectations, where some clients, like banks, are still expecting and requiring paper reports.
In this context, what does the future hold for financial deliverables? Are pitchbooks an outdated way of presenting opportunities and exchanging ideas or are they still a necessary method for communicating?
Pitchbooks are institutional presentations created in investment banking to introduce the bank and give updates to potential clients, to propose deals – sell-side M&A, buy-side M&A, IPOs, debt issuances, and so on – or to pitch a client to investors. In talking with our clients, we observed that bankers usually spend a lot of time making sure that all the sentences end with periods, that the shapes are aligned and the figures up-to-date… It’s not uncommon to see “v73” and other large numbers at the end of each file name.
It’s no wonder that a lot of bankers pave the way towards an evolution to more concise and fluid documents. Especially when bankers are aware that, in the end, the pitchbook alone is not going to award them the deal. According to Chin-Harn Leong, Director, Deal Advisory at KPMG, “documents don’t make the choice of the client; they can help to clarify the message, but they won’t close the deal”.
“We have to evolve to a more concise report format; a more pleasant reading experience for the clients”, says Chin-Harn Leong. Indeed, client experience is becoming a major focus in the banking industry. A report by Accenture shows that the Financial Services tend to recognise the importance of creating a consistent customer experience. Digital, interactive reports provide a better fit for the client’s needs for impactful, sharp, and visually appealing presentations.
Considering the points previously mentioned, there is no surprise that the Business Intelligence (“BI”) market is experiencing such a strong growth: in its latest analysis, Gartner plans a 24.5% increase until 2020 and considers that BI technologies are about to become a reference in the fields of forward-looking augmented analytics.
BI tools, like Microsoft Power BI or Tableau, allow professionals to aggregate and organise data from various sources. They can easily create interactive, ergonomic, up-to-date reports on any mobile device. The value proposition: the level of analysis can be personalised to perfectly fit the expectations of the clients during a meeting – go deeper into some figures or, on the contrary, give an overview – and the report can be shared through a simple web click.
In light of these conclusions, the disappearance of pitchbooks seems unavoidable; it’s only a matter of timing. However, despite all the mixed feelings associated with it, pitchbooks can still serve a purpose. When constructing a pitchbook, it’s very important to consider the objective and end goal that you would like to achieve, to avoid unnecessary loss of time or confusion in your messaging. For example, a pitchbook created purely for “leave behind” purposes will be a lot lighter on graphs and charts and should focus on the firm’s background, capabilities and client experience.
The pitchbook, while perhaps being a mood killer during a first meeting, is essential as it’s used to create opportunities for discussion and connection with the client. In some specific activities like origination, pitchbooks are mainly designed to expose an investment strategy to the client: detailing what makes the proposed strategy relevant and tactical. In this particular case, the pitchbook is a key component of the negotiation process.
Banks often compete with dozens of rival companies to win a deal. This is where a sharp, stunning pitchbook can make the difference: any outdated figure, missing disclaimer or typo could be enough to convince the client that he should choose your competitor rather than you. Everything is good to stand out from the mass and the form is just as important as the content. “Every bank makes use of the services of a coach or a consultant to improve the design of its reports”, explains Damien Anzel.
It’s crucial to reflect the brand identity on every client document. First impressions are decisive: studies reveal that up to 90% of snap judgments made about a company can be based on brand recognition and colour pallet of a firm’s marketing materials! The company’s image and the way the proposition is communicated inevitably play a big role in perception and saleability.
“The best-case scenario is a transition from your initial pitch to a conversation about the client’s needs and issues. According to Damien, “this interaction is only possible when the client feels secured and understood”. Although the pitchbook in itself cannot lead to this swing, the brand image it carries conveys the right emotion to give the client the ability to create an interaction.