How RMB’s Financial Markets Research Division Solved Its Reporting Challenge

Hampered by a time consuming approach to delivering their reports, the team of financial markets research analysts at Rand Merchant Bank needed to find a distribution method that could cope with the growing popularity and performance demands of their research service. This case study looks at how they solved the challenge of ensuring thousands of reports get delivered on time every time.

Time is a decisive commodity for the team of financial markets research analysts at Rand Merchant Bank, one of South Africa’s top investment banks. Not only has some of the research they provide got to reach their clients very quickly, before the markets open at 08h00, for instance, but it has also got to be sent to each client at the same time, to eliminate the possibility of any recipient gaining unfair advantage from receiving the information in advance.

“We provide our clients with a broad range of original research on economic indicators, markets and asset classes,” confirms Financial Markets Research Editor, Mandy Brennan, “and, until two months ago, we were sending out the reports using our conventional, inhouse email system. It was time consuming and frustrating because we could only send to 300 clients at a time and some of our lists have over 4,000 recipients.”

Using the standard company email system also meant that the team had no way of adding any appropriate branding, personalising the messages or even tracking their delivery. “Not only were we frequently clogging up the company email servers, but we were running the risk of inadvertently ‘front running’ the research,” explains Brennan.

“Most of the international regulatory bodies, like the FSA (Financial Services Authority) in the UK, stipulate that every client, whether internal or external, must receive the research at the same time and, while these regulations are not yet in place here, we have always strived hard to ensure our clients enjoy equal consideration.”

Faced with these challenges, Brennan began investigating more efficient and userfriendly ways of distributing their research reports to clients. Ensight was chosen as a solution based on its robust bulk email infrastructure, as well as its ability to integrate marketing and technology drivers.

“We had a clear idea of what we needed and our priority was ensuring a quick implementation with the minimal amount of disruption,” recollects Brennan. “We enlisted the help of the experts at the ThoughtCorp consultancy and they recommended we upgrade our service using the proven Ensight suite as a platform. The experience was a pleasant surprise. ThoughtCorp worked with the Ensight engineers to ensure our exact specifications were met first time and the switch over was smooth < not the typical experience associated with upgrades to essential services.”


Exploiting the best of both worlds

The Ensight solution allows the research analysts to set up and orchestrate the distribution of each of their research mailings via a secure, web-based console. Each is based on a set template, to which a message, personalised signature and the relevant research can be attached. Analysts are also able to specify what research should be delivered to different clients by selecting from various distribution filters.

“A custom interface was built to meet our specifications and it has made the process wonderfully easy and quick,” observes Brennan. “We simply login, select the applicable list of clients, type and preview our message, attach the research and send it out. It is saving us so much time.”

A case of exploiting ‘the best of both worlds’, the solution is a combination of a highly customised set of tools, supported by the powerful, feature-rich Ensight emarketing engine; this arrangement enabling the team to take advantage of Ensight’s integrated range of profiling and reporting abilities as well.

The team’s clients love it too. “Aside of the fact that they can be confident that everyone is receiving the research simultaneously, they can also now access a web-based subscription form that allows them to update their subscription preferences,” reports Brennan, “whereas, previously, they had to call in to our offices to change their choices.”


Paced delivery relieves system shock

An unexpected hurdle encountered once the new system was in place was the volume of mail the company’s internal system had to handle. “We hadn’t anticipated catering for the large amount of email coming back into the bank,” recounts Brennan. “Once we had consolidated our client lists, we had over 1,000 mails arriving at the same time and that gave our existing system a bit of a shock.”

Fortunately, Ensight’s sophisticated email management tools made it an easy situation to solve since it is able to precisely ‘pace’ the delivery of mails to different locations, optimising delivery speeds. Although, in the end, the company decided that the importance of fast delivery times justified upgrading the servers to cope.


Enthusiastic adoption reflects success

Acknowledging the importance of being able to deliver research reports fast < typically, within 15 minutes < and concurrently, Brennan cites the speed and ease with which the research team adopted the new system as further proof of its success.

“The team accepted and adopted the system quickly because it has made our lives so much easier,” she maintains. “Everything is in one place and can be accessed easily. Moreover, the fact that it is web-based means that we can access it from any of our offices around the world and can send up-to-the-minute research out, wherever we are.”

Another benefit has been the facility to consolidate client lists into one place. “When we first started we had 3,500 clients on the system, but now we have over 6,000 and the directory continues to grow,” explains Brennan. “This is of considerable value to us and we intend to start using the system to clean up our databases as a direct result.”


Taking it to the next level

Another illustration of how much the team have adopted and taken ownership of the system is their enthusiastic involvement in its refinement. “You might expect a longer lead time, but everyone has been involved and it made sense not to wait to implement some of their great suggestions,” confirms Brennan.

It’s not just the team that are keen to take the system to the next level either. “Our clients have also put forward some really great suggestions,” concludes Brennan, “and one of the projects currently being worked on is the formatting of the research emails to suit mobile devices, like Blackberrys, because time is a crucial commodity for them as well and they want to be able to access the reports wherever they are.”