Coronavirus Will Only Drive the Email Problem (and Opportunity) on Wall Street

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As Coronavirus fears spread around the world, there have been some clear and obvious impacts. Everyone is evaluating their work from home policy, travel plans, conference attendance, and other engagements. Fundamentally, people are trying to limit their in-person human interaction. There are some big winners in all of these changes – look no further than video conferencing solution Zoom, who has seen their stock skyrocket since January – and it looks like those changes might be here for a little while still. There have also been those who have suffered, such as the poor team over at SeaWorld

Of course, the world keeps spinning, demand for products around the world won’t disappear overnight, most industries press forward, and the markets are open to trade – but exactly how business will be conducted in the near to short term might change. The biggest change that we expect to see is a drop off of in-person communication, and a push towards ‘digital communication’ channels – including phone, email, and video conferencing. 

Which brings us to the capital markets. On Monday, we broke every internal record we have in terms of active users, emails sent, and overall volume by a wide margin. We’re talking about a 20%+ increase over past records. It makes absolute sense though. The communication that would have happened in person needs to happen somewhere else. It seems as though there may be a shift underway to email as people have less in-person meetings, but still need to communicate with their clients (for what it’s worth, those records were broken again yesterday). 

By our analysis, email already is the largest communication channel that brokerages have with their clients by volume, but it appears as though it’s set to become even larger. I believe the next few weeks will highlight the wide spectrum of firms as it relates to their current implementation of email intelligence solutions. The coming weeks will drive a huge spread between firms who still have a blindspot on email (even though it’s their largest communication channel with clients) and those firms who are able to leverage email intelligence tools to better understand and service their clients, save time, and improve the overall client experience. 

It makes sense – everything related to email will just become more. The biggest opportunity of email intelligence tools is to drive actionable and revenue generating conversations with clients. As email volumes go up, that means there will be more data points being captured, thus more opportunities to have those conversations. Fundamentally more data points means more targeted conversations, and more targeted conversations means more business. 

On the other hand, firms who still have a blindspot on email (or at best, have very primitive intelligence tools in place) will suffer across the board. Email volumes will increase, which will slow down everything with no upside. That’s because the channel doesn’t generate any actionable intelligence as is. Putting more through the channel (i.e. sending more emails) doesn’t help anyone. A blindspot with more volume is still a blind spot. Distribution list updating and management will consume even more time internally. The client experience will suffer. Potential insights and actionable opportunities will slip through their fingers as they continue to reach out blindly. 

While it’s always hard to appreciate the wide array of impacts something like Coronavirus will have, I have one hypothesis: people in the capital markets will continue to do more communication via email. As email becomes an even larger channel, the downside – and upside – to properly understanding it and implementing the right tools becomes even more important. Those who are well positioned stand to further differentiate themselves with clients, driving revenue, saving their own time, and improving the client experience.

The question I would pose to everyone reading this is: how effective are you at leveraging your email communications to drive conversations, save time, and improve the client experience?

I have no doubt the answers would widely vary.

Blair Livingston
CEO
Street Contxt


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