Does Limited Knowledge Management Hinder Your Growth?

Best Practices

02 December 2022

Indy Sarker


Businesses are generating data at a breakneck speed in the present times. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of banking and financial advisory. While such explosive growth in data and related intelligence around their customers is well acknowledged; we believe not enough is being done to drive better the organization of such knowledge and its subsequent impact on process efficiencies and customer engagement.

Data has little value unless of course you can retrieve/use it in the right context and drive better decision-making. The ability to weave data into information and contextualise it into intelligence to drive decision-making is the essence of Knowledge Management. This opens the discussion on how better knowledge management can help you excel at the individual level and ultimately at the organization level. In this article we are looking to bust some common myths (and pushbacks!) around Knowledge management and bring a clearer perspective on its value to an organization over time.

5 Myths around Knowledge Management

  • We are small firm and Knowledge Management is not critical for us.
  • Knowledge Management cannot take priority over revenue growth.
  • Our customers are well known to us and an investment in Knowledge Management brings little incremental value.
  • We have organized our files and folders across the firm, and it works!
  • Knowledge Management systems are expensive and complex to implement.

Myth 1: Knowledge management is a requirement only in larger companies

During our engagement with players in the market, we come across this notion that Knowledge Management is a challenge that applies to merely larger scale companies and that the benefits do not accrue to smaller firms with similar challenges. We believe the opposite to be true! We believe, qualitative decision-making at a smaller versus larger firm should not be any different. When it comes to customers and meeting their needs, the expectations at the customer end are not driven by whether the service provider is a smaller or a larger firm.

Consequently, it’s the smaller firms that must disproportionately gain mindshare to win business in the marketplace. Making that effort to put in some vital Knowledge Management capabilities helps to deliver efficiencies within the organization as well as drive better customer engagement and targeting. In the absence of Knowledge Management, information sits in silos across the firm and none of the data (largely unstructured) is available in a form that allows for actionable intelligence. We believe such inefficiencies drive down productivity as well as the quality of decision-making and bring in dis-economies of scale as a firm aspires to grow and remain competitive in the marketplace. When there is a lack of sharing; contextualised access and relational intelligence across the data stored in an organization, the value of the dataset to drive decision-making declines exponentially.

Knowledge Management is not just about tapping your organization’s data pool to drive intelligent action; it’s equally about empowering teams within your organization to make the best informed and curated decisions, across all job functions.

Myth 2: Knowledge Management is not as important as new business generation

We also come across firms that are unable to prioritize time for driving a discussion within their organizations to put in place technology that helps them achieve greater transparency and efficiencies when it comes to customer engagement. The inefficiencies as stated above also reduce productivity and therefore there is never enough time in the day to plan initiatives that allow a firm to scale over time. Is the question worth asking - why does revenue growth aspiration have to be mutually exclusive with Knowledge Management initiatives? We would argue putting in place a robust Knowledge Management practice will enhance revenue growth prospects!

The transition of Data to Information to Knowledge is not an accidental process. It requires planning, execution, organizational commitment, and thoughtful process planning and engagement to ensure what you get from such a Knowledge Management initiative delivers you long-term value in areas such as workflow efficiencies, and better customer engagement and ultimately allow you to transact more business. The time invested in this process, delivers exponential returns across the organization over time.

Myth 3: We know are customers well; little upside from Knowledge Management

If you are a boutique Financial Advisory or M&A advisor, there is always the temptation to rely on existing customers to judge ones Knowledge Management needs and aspirations. If you are used to getting recurring business from a set of clients (firms) over time, there is the danger you think of your business in a more static sense rather than evolving over time when it comes to your clients. Additionally, effective knowledge management capabilities allow you to be in better control of the customer relationship and drive greater accountability and transparency across your client service and engagement team(s). The firm ends up driving the customer relationship rather than the individual who engages the client daily.

Myth 4: Central file storage or cloud storage is Knowledge Management

In the world of M&A and Financial advisory, you are also dealing with sensitive and confidential data from a client for whom you are either looking to work on a transaction or mandated on a transaction.  Such data sets, whether as part of a transaction or in building a relationship with a client require careful handling and storage, wherein even members outside of the transaction team or engagement team should not get access to such intelligence, confidential files, and interactions.

Driving confidentiality in the customer engagement process and ensuring data level privacy and confidentiality, are key to effective knowledge management and subsequent customer engagement.  Even if you had all your client notes and related intelligence saved on cloud storage for access across the firm, it does not help you engage that dataset in a way that is not entirely driven by intelligent smart profiling, smart alerts, and profiling tags on a visual interface. Centralizing your client data on cloud storage or network storage is a passive halfway-house solution to a complex and dynamic problem. It still fails to deliver actionable intelligence in a proactive sense to create a wholistic view on the client base.

Myth 5: Knowledge Management costs a fortune and takes a lot of resources to implement

The popular perception around Knowledge Management initiatives is that they will break the bank and take enormous time and resources effort to put in place. This myth stems from large, high-profile, and complex ERP projects that take forever to put in place and cost millions of dollars; and tend to grab the most eyeballs. Once again, it’s all about context! What may be required as a Knowledge Management solution for your business may be significantly less complex and yet deliver exponential value to your business, at very nominal costs. Creating a single source of truth, in an easily accessible and engaging way, ensuring all customer interactions (i.e., emails, calls, meeting notes, tasks, follow-ups, etc.) along with client profiling intelligence (i.e., interests, priorities, likes, dislikes, etc.) are weaved together to drive better client targeting and curation when it comes to engaging them on opportunities

In Summary

Your firm’s growth does not happen by accident, or in a vacuum. It requires building the appropriate management oversights, the ability to deliver greater value to your customers, and a delegated authority structure that empowers professionals across the organizational hierarchy. At ANALEC, at the heart of our CRM for investment banking offers a deeply embedded philosophy on Knowledge Management that goes a long way to deliver workflow efficiencies, client confidentiality, and proactive and insightful decision-making when it comes to customer engagements.

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