Corporate Capital Markets Strategies

Capital represents the many assets and funds used by companies, mostly corporations, in order to sustain and further furnish their income generating operations. The term capital market refers to the market where most corporations raise the funds or capital required for their immediate activities as well as long term investments and other plans. For raising this capital from the capital market for securities, the two feasible options are to sell stock and to sell bonds. These two markets are known as stock market and bond market respectively.

Any corporate or business needs to draw out efficient corporate capital markets strategies in order to find the funds. These corporate capital markets strategies must focus on key value drivers and the actual value creation process. Along with this, the strategies must also give thought to risks that have a good chance of paying off.

The first step in all corporate capital markets strategies should be to look within for some important answers. A review technique must be adopted during value creation. The companies must look through their performance till the present date; look around at the type and extent of competition in the arena, their financing capability as well as their business opportunities. The risks about to be taken must bring back good returns that are convenient for the management. The corporations need to brainstorm and decide what changes that can successfully improve value.

Diversification is a strong move that several companies opt for. There are reliable, flexible capital options in several global markets, which corporations are looking to milk. Along with improving the presence of the company in the domestic market, corporate capital markets strategies must aim at getting noticed in the offshore capital markets. Concentrating on investor needs is a great idea and can help to strengthen the investor base. Additional options include acquisition and secularization.

While working on corporate capital markets strategies, many a time there is asymmetry between company and market perception of priorities. Improving operational results has brought good news because the corporations met the expectations of the capital market. A communications program with road shows and other schemes must be prepared as part of an effective market strategy. Shareholders must always be in the know regarding the business plans and operations of corporations.

The balance sheets must be monitored and restructured if necessary. While ownership restructuring is a common scenario, focusing on transparency and better management incentives as per investor expectations is a must. Buy-back of shares, Spin-off and equity carve-out are other avenues to be explored while fixing up strategies for stepping up the flow of funds from various sources.

The ultimate aim of all the corporate capital markets strategies is to internally and externally enhance the perception of the company value, and reduce the gap between the market perspective and management perspective. This move paves the way for capital and assets required not just for immediate transactions but in the long run as well. To sum up, an effective corporate capital markets strategy must analyze capital markets, focus on development of corporate governance and communications, and work on financing schemes and transactions that will increase the company value in the market.

Bank Sales Management – 4 Steps to Boosting Sales of Corporate Finance-Capital Markets

With notable exceptions, commercial bank efforts to boost revenue by selling corporate finance and capital markets products to middle market have not met expectations. This, despite significant investments in investment banking capabilities, product training, and corporate finance training that have kept corporate finance teachers busy for several decades. Why is this? What can sales team leaders and market managers do?

Two Key Factors Reduced the Growth Rates for Capital Markets Capabilities

While the reasons for under-performance vary bank to bank, there are two universal themes. First, marketing strategies. The “service” organization (i.e. the capital markets group) and the field sales force did not mesh. The groups had different objectives and different compensation plans. Many sales people considered the investment bankers arrogant and transactional. The investment bankers considered the relationship managers dim-witted and antiquated. As a result, the two groups could not collaborate to define effective marketing strategies and to exchange the information each group needed to fully take advantage of opportunities.

Second, sales process. Bank sales managers took the view: “RMs are already talking to these companies. They can cross sell or refer opportunities for capital markets.” The sales managers did not see that customers don’t buy capital markets services the same way they buy more traditional bank products. Loans and other bank products have been sold through a “features/benefits/price” conversation. Capital markets products and services must be sold as if they are “professional services,” where ideas and professional competence are the primary value.

What will it take to close the gap? While much progress has been made, the most critical elements are:

1. better definition of market strategy and sales processes,

2. a new approach to training,

3. more focused sales management, and

4. a recognition and compensation philosophy that, at minimum, does not distract sales people from the task.

Better Definition of Market Strategy and Sales Processes

Market strategy, particularly target selection for each capital markets capability, is critical. Specialists and relationship managers must share a common understanding of “what a qualified prospect looks like” for each capital markets product or service. These definitions should be specific, for example: “Manufacturing companies with sales > $50 million who meet criteria for Bbb debt ratings and that are interest rate sensitive.” RMs must know these criteria for each of the opportunities they’re expected to find. These criteria enable RMs to plan their sales efforts and to forecast prospective business effectively. They also reduce the amount of “noise in the system” from opportunities that don’t deserve attention from scarce investment banker resources.

Crisp sales process definitions will help boost the number of opportunities identified and reduce effort expended in sales process. The field sales organizations and product specialists must define (for each product or service):

Sales process steps (from initial conversations through origination to the end of execution) respective roles in the sales process.
Hand-off points (as from RM to specialist and back again).
Information requirements for each service (what information RM or specialist passes to the other).
Service standards for response times to inquiries, lead times for presentations, and other sales support activities.

These definitions provide a framework for RMs and specialists to work together effectively, each knowing what they can expect from the other and when.

New Approach to Training and Sharing Information

To meet client expectations, bank training must prepare RMs for their roles in the sales processes (which differ by product or capability). Depending on the RMs’ roles in opportunity identification and selling, product training and sales training should be modified.

This is not a new problem. For example, in 1998, describing Merrill Lynch’s initial attempts to generate additional mergers and acquisition advisory business, Fortune magazine reported: “[Clients] wanted bankers who came to them steeped in knowledge of their industry and full of creative ideas…That was a problem for Merrill’s M&A bankers, who were generalists… Many bankers simply didn’t know enough about each of the industries to make provocative presentations…” (Fortune Magazine, April 27, 1998, page 138) Data provided by Greenwich Associates and other firms confirm that clients today expect the same from investment bankers and commercial bankers who want to provide the more strategic capital markets and corporate finance services.

Like Merrill, bank leaders now must make specific decisions around how they are organized and how their bankers are prepared to respond to these client expectations of advisors. The same logic applies in small business, middle market, and large corporate banking. Whether you’re offering M&A advice, Treasury Services, mutual funds, or debt financing, product training should be transformed into “customer training” to focus on:

Owner, CEO, or CFO issues and concerns.
The problems that the bank’s capabilities solve.
Questions that will help the RMs assess a customer’s goals and circumstances and draw conclusions about which investment bank capabilities are appropriate and what potential benefit will be created for the customer.
Answers to customer questions, including:
What does this do (explained in terms normal people can understand)?
When does this approach benefit a company like ours?
What are the alternatives?
Who have you done this for?
What will it cost and how long will it take?

Sales training should shift toward a professional services model in which the value comes from the expertise of team members, of which the RM is one. Clients want counsel from people who have been down particular roads before. They are looking for advisors who can take a view or a position about market conditions and other factors. Sales training should prepare RMs to probe these issues deeply and to offer opinions. RMs must be good representatives of the expertise that will later come from the capital markets professionals.

This begins with intimate customer knowledge. Generally speaking, RMs know their customers well at a transactional level – specific needs which the customer has decided to address. Generally, they do not know their customers well at the level needed to identify opportunities or capital market services. Key missing ingredients include:

Customer goals, strategies, policies and market positioning (which provide the context for proactive opportunity identification).
Ideas and strategies that are in “entering discussions” and have not moved to the “take action” stage.
Variables (such as commodity prices) that bring risk into the customer’ business.

The sales training must also teach the RMs to position the capital markets group’s capabilities and begin prescribing sales processes. Often, this will include the ability to describe “success stories” that demonstrate capabilities and market savvy.

Finally, make sure your RMs are receiving and reading information that they will need to discuss in sales calls and conversations over meals:

Capital markets activity (rates, players, deal structures, etc.) and current trends/opportunities.
Up-to-date information about internal processes, players, and methods.

More Focused Sales Management

Sales managers (from line-of-business head to sales team leader) must decide how their teams will “play the game.” Since all product suppliers in the bank are competing for sales force mind-share, the sales managers must set a strategy and priorities for sales force attention. With the basic direction and expectations set, there are several important goals for sales managers:

First Priority: Field Coaching

Get into the field to observe calls and to coach…even though you don’t have time.Sales management coaching disciplines drive sales results. If you want to identify more opportunities for capital markets and corporate finance, you have to increase the amount of time and attention you pay to them through your questions and through your time in the field. This is particularly true if you want RMs to do more than spot opportunities and toss them over the fence. If you want them to question deeply to reach the pain and the payoffs that will sell capital markets and corporate finance, you have to be there with them, and you have to model it.
Help the RMs learn to anticipate customer issues and present ideas by asking questions about customers’ plans and strategies and prompting them to anticipate needs and generate ideas. The main rule here is: You get what you ask about. If you ask about ideas and customer plans, you’ll get more of them. If you ask about loan renewals and administrative matters, that’s what you’ll get.
Use whatever information you have about products, internal processes, and success stories to drill and coach the RMs. To be confident speaking to business owners or senior officers, they have to master the language and the stories. Use sales meetings, time in the car or on the plane, or phone time to ask questions like: “How do you describe our private placement capabilities?”

Second Priority: Planning and Review

Create good sales process descriptions and measures so that you can accurately determine where RMs are working in the sales process. You should be able to say to an RM: “To be successful in your territory with capital markets, you need to identify 50 opportunities, make 30 idea presentations, submit 20 proposals, and close 15 deals with an average fee of $X”. This knowledge comes from tracking and studying RM activities so you know, for your market, what the guidelines are.
Help the RMs prioritize their accounts – which accounts should get the “financial advisor” treatment, which match the profiles of companies that would benefit from particular capital markets and corporate finance services.
Insist on planning – a 1-year territory business plan and account plans for the top 5 – 10 customers and 5 – 10 prospects. The planning will (1) help focus the RM’s time on accounts most likely to be productive and (2) help the RM think through customer’s goals, strategies, policies, and obstacles.
Review progress toward targets through:

Monthly business review meetings with RMs, to review their short term action items and forecasted business.
Quarterly account reviews, to revisit their one-year business plans and all account plans – where are we versus what we’d planned, why, and what do we need to do to close the gap?

A Supportive Recognition and Compensation Plan

The basic test we apply is: “Do no harm.” Relationship manager recognition and compensation plans are typically complex because of the large array of products and services available for sale and the impact on a bank’s balance sheet and income statement. Separate recognition and incentive compensation plans. The recognition plan should kick in for activities that drive sales. The compensation plan should kick in for sales results. Having said that, our “no harm” guidelines include:

Create a system of immediate and visible recognition to be awarded based on high quality completion of activities – capital markets or corporate finance opportunities identified, proposals submitted, and so on. You want to stimulate and recognize the activities that will ultimately lead to the results. Use personal notes, peer recognition in team meetings, circulation of good proposals to team members, and other techniques that call attention to both what was done and how it was done.
Establish incentive compensation plans that reward RMs for generating capital markets or corporate finance revenue. To shift RM attention toward certain capabilities, make some revenue count for more in the plan than other types of revenue. (Example: private placement fees might count for $1.25 per dollar of fee, while loan commitment fees might count for 80 cents per dollar of fee). DO NOT run sales contests based on product sales (numbers of installations or revenue by product). The dynamics of these approaches are completely counter to the “advisory” approach needed to position and sell capital markets and corporate finance services (and other bank products as well).
Establish incentives for retaining accounts. This compensates the RM for the time and risk associated with working accounts that are worth keeping but not, in a given year, big revenue generators.

Compensation and recognition plans must recognize that RMs must invest time to develop their knowledge, competence, and confidence with their customers’ circumstances and with the services they are representing. The plans must recognize the time RMs invest with their customers, learning far more about them than they had to learn when selling ZBA accounts, loans, or corporate trust services. The plans must recognize the risk the RMs take when selling these services; the risks to their compensation and sales production are higher for capital markets and corporate finance capabilities than they are for standard loans and operations-oriented products.


Sales management coaching drives sales results. To accelerate sales of capital markets and corporate finance products and services toward optimum levels:

Clarify market strategies and sales processes by product, including the specific roles and hand-off points for RMs and specialists.
Increase emphasis on “customer and industry” training. Make sure RMs see a constant flow of market information (about deals, rates, and market activity) that they need when they talk to customers.
Focus sales management attention and recognition on the activities that lead to the results you want (high sales of corporate finance and capital markets products). Field coaching and planning are the highest two priorities.

World Capital Market

Throughout the early modern period, as communications increased in speed and effectiveness, there were attempts to make larger capital markets, with the end goal being the creation of a global capital market where money can be raised internationally, allowing for greater access by all companies to the same pool of capital regardless of where the company is located, and also free of legislative and other restrictions that apply in some parts of the world. Historically, the raising of capital involved transactions conducted between governments and private individuals. These processes were fraught with problems for both sides, and by the late 17th century, in western Europe, there was an attempt to formalize the process.

This saw the creation of the Bank of England in 1691 (incorporated in 1694), and in the early 18th century the origins of other schemes in other countries, some for city corporations, others for governments. However with the Industrial Revolution many capitalists wanted to be able to raise capital to embark on their projects and there was no regular system of raising capital and sharing the risk. As a result with the building of the Bridgewater (or Worsley) Canal, Francis Egerton, the 2nd Duke of Bridgewater, had to take the entire risk for the venture himself, and although he did end up very wealthy, it was a move that nearly sent him bankrupt. Similarly some major capitalist ventures could come to create major crises in the countries where the vast majority of the investors lived. Two of the most extreme examples of these came from France-the attempt by the Mexican government of Benito Juarez to abrogate the debts incurred by previous Mexican governments leading to the French military intervention in the country to install Emperor Maximilian in the 1860s; and another being the Panama Canal Crisis in the 1880s when French investors lost fortunes in speculation in the shares of a company which hoped to build the Panama Canal.

20th Century

By the 20th century, there were numerous banks that were able to lend capital for industrial and other projects. This certainly helped with the needs of the vast majority of borrowers. However there were companies which invested in one country, financed by investment from another. Some of this was to do with the colonial empires, with the capital for the Malayan rubber industry in the 1900s raised in London; but there was also other examples, including the financing of the building of the Argentine railroad system, also financed in London. By the 1900s London had certainly emerged as the main capital market in the world but it was about to be challenged by New York, which started from 1919 to become the dominant center for global capital. With better communications through a regular telephone and telex service, and now with computer systems, it has been possible to link the capital markets around the world and provide, for the customer, wider options and more access to this capital, and for the lenders, a greater ability to spread the risk among capital investors, and also speculators, around the world.

As well as the global capital market which arose in the major financial centers in the world: New York, London and Paris, and later Frankfurt and Tokyo; the oil price rises of the 1970s created a new area of wealth with the availability of what came to be known as “petrodollars.” This led to a number of schemes by which people claimed to have access to a more secretive “global market” with “agents” approaching governments. The most infamous was Tirath Khemlani and his dealings with the Australian government in the early 1970s. The Bank of England warned against these schemes, which profited largely through large cancellation fees which would have to be paid if the government in question wished withdraw from these-there has been no evidence of this hidden “global capital market.” The need for the global capital market became essential with increasingly larger numbers of companies having cross-listings by which their stock was quoted on a number of stock markets around the world. With the global capital market, it was possible to raise far larger sums of money than had been possible earlier, and this allowed investors and speculators to spread their risks over a wide range of capital investments all over the world.

The End of the Bretton Woods System

One of the developments that arose from this global capital market was a convergence of real interest rates around the world. This coincided with the end of the Bretton Woods system and the floating of many currencies in the 1970s, coupled with the U.S. government’s suspension of the convertibility of the dollar into gold. This allowed the rates of exchange between most major currencies in the world to be set by the market, albeit with the government able to influence this through altering the exchange rates to increase or decrease demand for a currency. As a result, if the government of a specific country sought to use macroeconomic instruments such as interest rates, and they were raised, the demand for the currency would create a rise in the value of the currency, after which the real interest rates would be comparable to those in other countries. With open markets, full and audited accounting by governments, and with the free flow of capital into and out of countries, market forces would balance the currency market forming an equilibrium. Economists defined this as the purchasing power parity theory, although similar theories had been around since the Swedish economist Gustav Cassell (1866-1945) suggested that this could become the case as early as 1916.


If the global capital market could cope with balancing out the value of the various currencies, it was soon suggested that widespread speculation could affect the prices of the currencies allowing speculators to make (or lose) vast sums of money. This had led to the Bretton Woods system, which was a deliberate attempt by the United Kingdom, United States, and many other governments to constrain the global capital market in terms of the values of currencies, although it did not stop the two devaluations of the 764 Global Capital Market pound sterling to the U.S. dollar in September 1949 and November 1967. The floating era from 1971 saw a large rise in world interest rates, largely through the rise in the price of petroleum. With the doubling of oil prices in 1978-79 after the Iranian Revolution, the effect was that the economies of North America, Western Europe, and other parts of the world went into recession. George Soros and other operators of hedge funds used the global capital market to raise large sums of money and this in turn resulted in the “Battle for Sterling” in 1992 when Soros fought the Bank of England, and later in 1997 with the Asian Economic Crisis. Since the late 1990s there has also been the increasing role of China in global capital markets, helping create a boom that led to estimates made in 2006 that the global capital market would exceed $228 trillion by 2010, although with the current crisis, this figure now seems improbable.

2008 Crisis

Thus the result of the global capital market and the spreading of risks can lead to many countries seemingly unconnected to the area at economic risk becoming affected. In 2007 with the start of serious problems in the U.S. subprime home mortgage market, the effects were felt not just by the individual lenders, and especially by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but by banks and financial institutions around the world that had invested their money in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and suddenly found themselves exposed to the collapse of the subprime market. The crisis was triggered to a certain extent by undue offering and securitization of low-quality subprime mortgages and other lows in the United States, which were abetted by a certain extent by deregulation in the 1990s and a laxity in enforcement of regulations that continued. Stunned American legislators initiated a bailout coupled with a stream of new regulations. Another dramatic effect in 2008 was following a crisis in the Icelandic banking system, it was revealed that vast numbers of individuals, companies, town corporations, and public organizations had invested their money in Icelandic banks because of the better returns offered, without realizing that this increased their level of risk. While there was confidence in the global capital market, there were no problems, but as soon as “panic” breaks out, there is a quick flight of capital, leaving those less able to quickly react to take potential or actual losses, and in extreme cases to lose their investments as well.