Navigating an M&A in the financial sector: Four strategies for success

Navigating an M&A in the financial sector: Four strategies for success



The days, weeks, and months following a merger or acquisition are an exciting and busy time for any organization. With systems to integrate, new team members to onboard, and product lines, cultures, and brands to merge, teams from marketing to operations can find themselves juggling multiple roles while managing an ever-growing list of tasks. For organizations in the financial sector, the added layer of State and Federal regulations presents an even more nuanced set of challenges.

That said, M&A activity in the financial sector also offers a wealth of opportunity—especially from a brand perspective. We’ve compiled a list of the top 4 factors to consider to make the most of a merger or acquisition of a financial services company.

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1. Assemble a dedicated task force

While focus is often turned to the merger itself, the question of who will make it happen should be a top priority early on. Assembling a dedicated task force organized by department or business line can go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition.

Crucially, this taskforce must be comprised of people within the organization that understand the financial systems of both organizations involved in the transition. IT and core banking functions must be prioritized, along with everything from loan to account opening systems, CRM, communication tools, and more.

Tip: Give brand a seat at the table

Brand should have a prominent seat at the table to ensure all moving parts receive the treatment needed to maintain a robust presence in the marketplace and minimize disruption for customers migrating from the legacy company.

2. Beef up marketing efforts to keep all stakeholders in the loop— both internal and external

Never underestimate the power of branded marketing when communicating with your internal teams and external stakeholders. Internal teams will need timely communications about how the merger or acquisition will impact their daily jobs and career trajectories, while legacy customers of an acquired company may have justified concerns about the impact of the change on their own financial picture. Effective communication and stakeholder management is essential to minimize disruption and maintain trust in your institution.

Tip: Smoother transitions are better for business

The smoother the transition, the more likely you’ll retain your legacy customer base. A carefully crafted campaign, automated using CRM tools, can help make that happen. As pieces of branded communication disseminate through digital and traditional channels, it is important to put mechanisms in place to receive and respond to inbound questions and requests. This might mean an updated FAQ page on your website, a new microsite, an AI-driven chatbot to handle online traffic, or even contracting with a call center to handle an increased call volume.

3. Put an onboarding plan in place, quickly

Taking time to envision a newly combined team structure is essential to ensuring all staff are engaged and have a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. It is therefore important to develop a streamlined onboarding process to get everyone up to speed and aligned as quickly as possible.

This could entail deploying a cloud-based data tracking system to be used during training sessions to ensure new associates achieve milestones and integrate into their new company and roles as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip: It all comes down to culture

Another benefit of a comprehensive onboarding program is to facilitate the merging of cultures. While many of the products and services across organizations may be similar, the culture in which they operate can vary greatly. In today’s era of Zoom calls and collaboration software, hosting an onsite get-together may be just the step you need to ensure a smooth integration for new team members.

4. Hit the ground running

As the adage goes, you only have one chance to make a great impression, and the clock starts ticking as soon as the news of your merger or acquisition hits headlines.

Work with your brand partner to ensure the news coming out is crafted with an easy-to-understand suite of benefits for all shareholders, details of the legal closing of the deal, etc. Updates should keep pace with the details of the M&A as it progresses so messaging stays fresh, relevant, and timely to indicate steady progress.