Tag Archives: McKinsey

Updates from McKinsey

Purpose for asset owners: Climbing a taller mountain
In the wake of the pandemic, the world’s long-term investors are reexamining their purpose.
By By Duncan Kauffman, Bryce Klempner, and Bruce Simpson – The world’s pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, and endowments are no strangers to purpose—they intentionally strive to create positive societal impact. After all, they have long been using purpose as a not-so-secret weapon to attract talent while competing with higher-paying private-sector investment managers. As one chief talent officer of a major asset owner put it, “We can’t compete with Wall Street head-to-head on compensation, but we can emphasize the mission of the work we do: helping millions of our fellow citizens save for their retirements. That’s pretty meaningful.” Nevertheless, amid the pandemic, many institutions are redefining, or simply sharpening, their emphasis on purpose, with promising implications for their constituents and the societies in which they operate.

Experienced climbers

For asset owners, purpose begins with their mandate, one that many owners have taken great care to define. The mandate informs all strategic choices an asset owner makes, so many CEOs and chief investment officers (CIOs) are careful to align their top teams and board. For example, the website for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan states, “Our name captures our purpose: to secure the future for Ontario’s teachers.” The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority describes its purpose as “. . . to secure and maintain the future welfare of the Emirate.” And the Yale Investments Office “seeks to provide high inflation-adjusted returns to support the current and future needs of the university.

These purpose statements typically share a common concept: asset owners commit to investing the capital they have been entrusted to preserve, by enhancing the long-term purchasing power of their beneficiaries. This purpose is noble; it is focused on helping others—and, in many cases, doing so on a large scale, for millions of beneficiaries or even an entire nation. It aims to help others by enhancing their autonomy. And it is typically cast as helping to orient institutions toward the long term—a horizon in which all stakeholders’ interests tend to converge. The power of these three dimensions of purpose has afforded asset owners comfort (and perhaps competitive advantage) in their distinctive purpose vis-à-vis other investment firms and financial institutions.

Many asset-owner executives may thus feel justifiably proud of their progress on organizational purpose. Yet increasingly, partly impelled by the global health crisis and partly by other societal forces, several asset owners are mulling an even taller mountain: using their capital, capabilities, and influence to contribute to the economic and social recovery of the communities in which they operate, so that they can deliver positive social impact beyond what they currently achieve.

Why do more?

Like many industries with a noble purpose, asset owners have a long history of harnessing some of the advantages that come from a strong shared sense of purpose—in talent (recruitment, retention, motivation, productivity), external engagement (policy and regulatory freedom), and risk management (in their own organizations and portfolios). Yet there are three reasons why asset owners are increasingly seeking to do more. more>

Updates from McKinsey

America 2021: Renewing the nation’s commitment to climate action
To America’s leaders, innovators, and changemakers; here’s how you can help build a low-carbon economy that is resilient, competitive, prosperous, and fair.
By Dickon Pinner and Matt Rogers – The new federal administration has arrived in Washington with ambitious plans to address the climate crisis—and in so doing, revitalize the US economy and reclaim a leadership position on the international stage. During their campaign, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted “the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy—one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide by no later than 2050 […] and, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs.”

Their vision recognizes that the global transition to a low-carbon economy is well under way. The cost of many clean-energy technologies fell significantly during the past decade—as much as 90 percent for some renewable-energy projects. The capital markets are funding the use of these technologies at historically low costs of capital, thereby accelerating scale-up investments. A climate-friendly policy tilt is taking hold in many places. With China, Japan, and the European Union having announced targets to achieve net-zero emissions, more than 110 countries, accounting for more than 70 percent of global GDP, have made net-zero pledges. Of the US states, 23 have established emissions-reduction goals and 12 have instituted carbon-pricing policies. Groups representing prominent American companies have endorsed the use of market-based mechanisms to promote emissions reductions. Some large businesses, along with four former Federal Reserve chairs (including the new treasury secretary), have voiced support for a nationwide carbon tax. These trends are creating possibilities for American leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, competitive advantage, and economic growth.

With the wind at their backs, government agencies and private-sector organizations can continue advancing the new national climate agenda that’s been set in motion already. The stimulus and government appropriations bill of December 2020, which received bipartisan support, set out tax incentives and funding for energy innovation and climate-related programs. And within days of his inauguration, President Biden signed executive orders initiating the process to reenter the Paris Agreement, positioning climate as a foreign-policy and national-security issue and calling on federal agencies to coordinate an all-government push to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, purchase clean-energy technologies, support innovation, conserve nature, and create economic opportunities across America. 1 Making good on these intentions will require new information, products, operations, and market innovations from public officials and business leaders. To inform their work, this memo highlights four sets of practices with notable potential to deliver the prosperity, security, and social-justice outcomes that the administration has prioritized. more>

Updates from McKinsey

How capital markets keep us connected
Nasdaq’s 50th anniversary reminds us that markets should be more inclusive, share more information, inspire innovation, and bring the world together.
By Tim Koller – Fifty years ago this February 8, a UNIVAC 1108 mainframe computer blinked on in sleepy Trumbull, Connecticut. Thus was born the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system, or Nasdaq, the world’s first all-electronic stock exchange, where securities could be bought and sold online in real time.

Well, almost.

While the network did flash “bids” and “asks” of prices, users could not actually buy or sell through their computers. Instead, dealers sat before individual Nasdaq terminals and made their trades by telephone—as they would for the next 13 years. The Nasdaq came into being not as a platform for execution but as a source of information and innovation to help facilitate trades by participants across distant locations.

In that way, Nasdaq took its cues from the first modern stock market, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (now known as Euronext). It didn’t convene at a single or set address during its early years, nor did it actually sell stock certificates, at least in present-day terms. Founded in 1602, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange arose initially as a means for people to subscribe to, and then to sell, percentages of Dutch East India Company net profits. The selling and reselling of these interests, in an iterative series of individual, bargained-for trades, aggregated into “the market.” Trades took place wherever merchants happened to meet, at any hour of the day.

As trading proliferated, the imperative for information did, too. Prices weren’t imposed by fiat; they couldn’t be. Why part from your money or your shares if you didn’t believe you would come out ahead in the bargain? Within a few decades of its founding, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange included trades by forward contracts (already well in use in Europe and around the world for commodities transactions), selling securities short and even buying on margin. Investors understood that the value of their trade relied on the probability of future profits, which meant that the advantage tilted to the diligent, the perceptive, and the informed.

Early stock market investors (there were more than a thousand of them, right from the start) were eager to subscribe when the Dutch East India Company “went public” because, as merchants and traders themselves, they could perceive the potential for high returns. It wasn’t unusual for ships sailing back from East India to realize profits of 100-fold. It also wasn’t unusual for profits to be zero; when fleets set out from Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, and Zeeland, all might be lost to weather, pirates, or scurvy. That vessels did manage to travel the thousands of miles and back was a triumph of innovation and risk taking. Pooling investments and sailing multiple times allowed more investors to create wealth. It also helped protect against losing everything in a single, misbegotten voyage. 1

Soon, stock exchanges were forming or emerging out of existing bourses across the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The more people the better. Larger markets meant greater liquidity, the opportunity to sell and resell equity interests to an ever-growing pool of investors. More markets also meant more opportunity to be closer to the action, as shipping, trade, and commerce brought continents and cultures together. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Transformation in uncertain times: Tackling both the urgent and the important A sprint-based transformation approach can help organizations achieve full potential.
By Darius Bates, David Dorton, Seth Goldstrom, and Yasir Mirza – In ordinary times, successful leaders continually strive to master the balance between the urgent and the important, both in their organizations and their daily schedules. But today’s CEOs face unprecedented financial, health and safety, and operational challenges. For them, the problem isn’t balancing the urgent with the important. It’s that most everything is both urgent and important and, given the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 and its aftershocks, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

To address these challenges in the present and in the next normal, some leaders will instinctively pick two or three top priorities. Then, on the assumption it’s better to focus an already-stressed organization on must-win battles, they will launch major efforts to realize such goals.

Choosing your priorities is a good idea, but that’s just the starting point. To sustainably transform an organization’s trajectory, leaders will need to efficiently implement improvements across the whole of the organization. Our research has shown that bold programs focused on a granular set of initiatives achieve more than limited efforts do: for example, our analysis of 100-plus transformations shows that 68 percent of their initiatives are worth $250,000 or less and that, on average, each initiative owner manages no more than two of thousands of initiatives. In our experience, the best-performing transformations focus on driving change by moving pebbles, not just boulders.

So how does a company tackle the urgent and the important while also delving into sufficient detail to achieve a step change in performance and value creation? In recent years, we’ve seen several organizations achieve these goals through a structured, sprint-based approach we refer to as “road-mapping.” more>

Updates from McKinsey

Breaking through data-architecture gridlock to scale AI
Large-scale data modernization and rapidly evolving data technologies can tie up AI transformations. Five steps give organizations a way to break through the gridlock.
By Sven Blumberg, Jorge Machado, Henning Soller, and Asin Tavakoli – For today’s data and technology leaders, the pressure is mounting to create a modern data architecture that fully fuels their company’s digital and artificial intelligence (AI) transformations. In just two months, digital adoption vaulted five years forward amid the COVID-19 crisis. Leading AI adopters (those that attribute 20 percent or more of their organizations’ earnings before interest and taxes to AI) are investing even more in AI in response to the pandemic and the ensuing acceleration of digital.

Despite the urgent call for modernization, we have seen few companies successfully making the foundational shifts necessary to drive innovation. For example, in banking, while 70 percent of financial institutions we surveyed have had a modern data-architecture road map for 18 to 24 months, almost half still have disparate data models. The majority have integrated less than 25 percent of their critical data in the target architecture. All of this can create data-quality issues, which add complexity and cost to AI development processes, and suppress the delivery of new capabilities.

Certainly, technology changes are not easy. But often, we find the culprit is not technical complexity; it’s process complexity. Traditional architecture design and evaluation approaches may paralyze progress as organizations overplan and overinvest in developing road-map designs and spend months on technology assessments and vendor comparisons that often go off the rails as stakeholders debate the right path in this rapidly evolving landscape. Once organizations have a plan and are ready to implement, their efforts are often stymied as teams struggle to bring these behemoth blueprints to life and put changes into production. Amid it all, business leaders wonder what value they’re getting from these efforts.

Data and technology leaders no longer need to start from scratch when designing a data architecture. The past few years have seen the emergence of a reference data architecture that provides the agility to meet today’s need for speed, flexibility, and innovation (Exhibit 1). It has been road-tested in hundreds of IT and data transformations across industries, and we have observed its ability to reduce costs for traditional AI use cases and enable faster time to market and better reusability of new AI initiatives. more>

Updates from McKinsey

A new consultation paper from McKinsey and the World Economic Forum explores the role that natural climate solutions can play in helping to address climate change and the destruction of nature.
Why investing in nature is key to climate mitigation
By Daniel Aminetzah, Emily Birch, Julien Claes, Joshua Katz, Peter Mannion, Sebastien Marlier, Dickon Pinner, and Antoine Stevens – As the world looks beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, a consensus is emerging: certain measures to curb the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions will be central to global economic recovery. Awareness is also growing around the urgent need to slow the destruction of the natural world, and it is becoming clear that the two environmental crises—a changing climate and nature loss—are inextricably linked and compounding.

Natural climate solutions (NCS)—conservation, restoration, and land-management actions that increase carbon storage and avoid greenhouse-gas emissions—offer a way to address both crises and to increase resilience as the climate changes. In fact, as argued in a new paper produced by McKinsey in partnership with the World Economic Forum, there is no clear path to deliver climate mitigation without investing in nature. Climate action requires both the reduction of emissions and the removal of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. NCS can help with both, starting today.

Private-sector commitment to climate action is gaining momentum, with companies increasingly adopting strategies aimed at reaching net-zero emissions and some pledging to invest in nature through the purchase of NCS-generated carbon credits (or “offsets”) as part of the effort. Based on current net-zero commitments from more than 700 of the world’s largest companies, there have already been commitments of carbon credits of around 0.2 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 by 2030. Some companies are even beginning to make commitments beyond carbon to biodiversity and water, which will be a growing trend over the next decade. As a core component of corporate climate mitigation, NCS are thus becoming mainstream, if not yet commonplace. While undersized overall, NCS now account for around 40 percent of retired carbon credits in voluntary carbon markets, up from only 5 percent in 2010. Leaders are also beginning to invest directly in nature through protecting and restoring large expanses of land and ocean. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Derisking digital and analytics transformations
While the benefits of digitization and advanced analytics are well documented, the risk challenges often remain hidden.
By Jim Boehm and Joy Smith – bank was in the midst of a digital transformation, and the early stages were going well. It had successfully transformed its development teams into agile squads, and leaders were thrilled with the resulting speed and productivity gains. But within weeks, leadership discovered that the software developers had been taking a process shortcut that left customer usernames and passwords vulnerable to being hacked. The transformation team fixed the issue, but then the bank experienced another kind of hack, which compromised the security of customer data. Some applications had been operating for weeks before errors were detected because no monitors were in place to identify security issues before deployment. This meant the bank did not know who might have had access to the sensitive customer data or how far and wide the data might have leaked. The problem was severe enough that it put the entire transformation at risk. The CEO threatened to end the initiative and return the teams to waterfall development if they couldn’t improve application development security.

This bank’s experience is not rare. Companies in all industries are launching digital and analytics transformations to digitize services and processes, increase efficiency via agile and automation, improve customer engagement, and capitalize on new analytical tools. Yet most of these transformations are undertaken without any formal way to capture and manage the associated risks. Many projects have minimal controls designed into the new processes, underdeveloped change plans (or none at all), and often scant design input from security, privacy, and risk and legal teams. As a result, companies are creating hidden nonfinancial risks in cybersecurity, technical debt, advanced analytics, and operational resilience, among other areas. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures employed to control it have only exacerbated the problem, forcing organizations to innovate on the fly to meet work-from-home and other digital requirements.

McKinsey recently surveyed 100 digital and analytics transformation leaders from companies across industries and around the globe to better understand the scope of the issue. 1 While the benefits of digitization and advanced analytics are well documented, the risk challenges often remain hidden. From our survey and subsequent interviews, several key findings emerged:

  1. Digital and analytics transformations are widely undertaken now by organizations in all sectors.
  2. Risk management has not kept pace with the proliferation of digital and analytics transformations—a gap is opening that can only be closed by risk innovation at scale.

more>

Updates from McKinsey

E-commerce: How consumer brands can get it right
Consumer brands need to make direct-to-consumer economics feasible and the customer experience seamless.
By Arun Arora, Hamza Khan, Sajal Kohli, and Caroline Tufft – Consumer brands have been seeking to establish direct relations with end customers for a range of reasons: to generate deeper insights about consumer needs, to maintain control over their brand experience, and to differentiate their proposition to consumers. Increasingly, they also do it to drive sales (see sidebar, “Why go direct?”).

For any brands that have considered establishing a direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel in the past and decided against it, now is the time to reconsider. COVID-19 has accelerated profound business trends, including the massive consumer shift to digital channels. In the United States, for example, the increase in e-commerce penetration observed in the first half of 2020 was equivalent to that of the last decade. In Europe, overall digital adoption has jumped from 81 percent to 95 percent during the COVID-19 crisis.

Many companies have been active in launching new DTC programs during the pandemic. For example, PepsiCo and Kraft Heinz have both launched new DTC propositions in recent months. Nike’s digital sales grew by 36 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and Nike is aiming to grow the share of its DTC sales from 30 percent today to 50 percent in the near future. “The accelerated consumer shift toward digital is here to stay,” said John Donahoe, a Silicon Valley veteran who became Nike president and CEO in January. 1 Our consumer sentiment research shows that two-thirds of consumers plan to continue to shop online after the pandemic.

The vast majority of consumer brands are used to selling through intermediaries, including retailers, online marketplaces, and specialized distributors. Their experience with direct consumer relationships and e-commerce is limited. As a result, they often hesitate to launch an e-commerce channel despite the obvious opportunity it offers. Just 60 percent of consumer-goods companies, at best, feel even moderately prepared to capture e-commerce growth opportunities. more>

Updates from McKinsey

The future of payments is frictionless—now more than ever
Amrita Ahuja, the CFO of Square, explains how the company’s payment platform and services have helped small enterprises stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
By Amrita Ahuja – Cash is king when it comes to maintaining corporate liquidity. It is in a somewhat less prestigious position when it comes to fulfilling consumer-to-business transactions. The onset of the COVID-19 crisis and ongoing fears of infection have prompted consumers and businesses to rely more on digital and contactless payment options when buying and selling goods and services.

How have the past few months been, and what’s changed for Square as a result of the crisis?

We’re taking it a day at a time. We serve merchants, who we call sellers, and individual consumers. And we know that this has been an incredibly trying time for everyone, where a lot of people’s livelihoods have been in question. The first thing we did was focus on our employees and their health. We shut down our offices on March 2. We wanted to do right by our communities and do our part to halt the spread of the virus. We took an all-hands-on-deck approach to understand what was happening in our customers’ businesses and what was happening in our own business. Every single day in March and April felt like a year, frankly, in terms of our understanding and how fast things were moving. We ran through scenarios, and asked ourselves, “OK, if the situation resembles a V, or if things look like an L, or if it looks like a U, what does that mean for us and our ability to serve our various stakeholders, employees, customers, and investors?”

We’ve had to be fast and clear with our communications during a time in which there are still so many unknowns. It was important to own up to this uncertainty and yet not downplay the severity of the situation. We met far more frequently with the board than the typical quarterly cadence. We held an update call with [investment bankers and analysts] outside the typical earnings cadence. We suspended our formal guidance to Wall Street, but we actually shared more information about the real-time views that we were seeing in our business across a number of different metrics and geographies. And with employees, we had a far more frequent and transparent mode of communication. We were sending weekly email updates, we built comprehensive and regularly updated FAQs, we set up a Slack channel for questions, and we held biweekly virtual all-hands meetings. We didn’t know everything, but we had a process for learning things over time and communicating them transparently. Ultimately, that has served us well, in terms of motivating our employees, serving our customers, and giving stakeholders a clear understanding of where we are as a business and how we are proceeding. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Managing the people side of risk
Companies can create a powerful risk culture without turning the organization upside down.
By Alexis Krivkovich and Cindy Levy – Most executives take managing risk quite seriously, the better to avoid the kinds of crises that can destroy value, ruin reputations, and even bring a company down. Especially in the wake of the global financial crisis, many have strived to put in place more thorough risk-related processes and oversight structures in order to detect and correct fraud, safety breaches, operational errors, and overleveraging long before they become full-blown disasters.

Yet processes and oversight structures, albeit essential, are only part of the story. Some organizations have found that crises can continue to emerge when they neglect to manage the frontline attitudes and behaviors that are their first line of defense against risk. This so-called risk culture is the milieu within which the human decisions that govern the day-to-day activities of every organization are made; even decisions that are small and seemingly innocuous can be critical. Having a strong risk culture does not necessarily mean taking less risk. Companies with the most effective risk cultures might, in fact, take a lot of risk, acquiring new businesses, entering new markets, and investing in organic growth. Those with an ineffective risk culture might be taking too little.

Of course, it is unlikely that any program will completely safeguard a company against unforeseen events or bad actors. But we believe it is possible to create a culture that makes it harder for an outlier, be it an event or an offender, to put the company at risk. In our risk-culture-profiling work with 30 global companies, supported by 20 detailed case studies, we have found that the most effective managers of risk exhibit certain traits—which enable them to respond quickly, whether by avoiding risks or taking advantage of them. We have also observed companies that take concrete steps to begin building an effective risk culture—often starting with data they already have. more>

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