consulting & advisory

Optima Group’s strategic consulting team delivers customized, actionable solutions to the complex challenges industry leaders face today.

What distinguishes Optima Group’s consulting practice is our unique combination of relevant real world experience and creative insight. All of our consultants are seasoned professionals with industry experience in wealth management, institutional asset management, mutual funds, private banking, insurance and brokerage. As a result, we craft impactful, realistic recommendations that are on schedule and within budget.

Consulting Case Studies
The wealth management arm of a leading super-regional bank identified pricing as a potential lever to boost non-interest income.

After detailed analysis of the competitive environment and the bank’s current fee structures and discounting practices, Optima Group developed a program to maximize revenue growth from the pricing initiative.

Our program included:
1. A new set of product-specific fee schedules better aligned with the bank’s enhanced wealth offer
2. Tighter guidelines for discounting
3. Development of customized client communications
4. Development and leadership of all training in the field

• Year 1 increase to fee revenue: approximately $7 million
• Projected 5-year increase to fee revenue: approximately $45 million
• Year 1 client attrition: less than 0.1%

Core elements of Optima Group’s program included:

Current-state data review and analysis:
• In-depth examination of the bank’s Wealth Management customer file, pricing practices and fee schedules to identify opportunities for revenue growth and potential hurdles to change

Competitive audit:
• Development of customized fee benchmarks for specific competitors and product/service sets
• Discovery of competitor discounting practices and actual prices paid

Modeling and schedule design:
• Summary of pricing trends and drivers and of the bank’s competitive standing
• Design of new fee schedules by product set including comparative metrics against current pricing and competitive benchmarks
• Recommendations for new discount policy including how to curtail discounting without risking client attrition
• Financial analysis of near- and longer-term impact of pricing recommendations
• Implementation plan, including:
— Structure and wording of fee schedules
— Recommendations for phasing in new fee schedules
— How to migrate from discounts to full pricing

Training and communications:
• Design and production of training materials
• Leadership of training sessions in all geographic regions
• Development of internal and external communications, including:
— Client letters
— Inbound and outbound telephone scripts
— Training guide for advisors, relationship managers, and administrators

Analytics and iterative improvements:
• Development of customized tools to monitor progress and gauge client reaction and behaviors, with special attention to potential attrition
• Ongoing analysis of actual financial impact
• Recommendations for further maximizing benefits, including:
— Replacing additional existing fee schedules with upgraded ones
— Taking a harder line on requests for exceptions
— Successfully putting “in play” accounts that were originally excluded from the analysis

A super-regional bank recognized it had an opportunity to enhance its profitability by expanding its penetration of the mass affluent segment within its market footprint. The bank engaged Optima Group to identify its strategic strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy to build its mass affluent business.

Optima Group performed the following:
• Competitive audit and proprietary market research on current bank customers and prospects
• Benchmarking of current offers, organizational structure and infrastructure
• Product and package design analysis
• Examination of the customer experience life cycle
• Customer sales and service team structure design review
• Detailed value chain analysis, pricing model, stress testing and financial modeling

We identified and recommended strategies to address:
• Lack of coordination between banking and brokerage divisions
• Uncompetitive product set and packaging
• Incomplete pricing models
• Brand, offer and market strategy gaps
• Salesforce and service team overlaps and gaps
• Inconsistent client experience
• Ineffective use of CRM

• Realignment of management responsibilities to enhance market focus
• Enhanced cross-sell at every point of contact
• Improved penetration of the client base putting new prospects across from sales professionals
• Seamless transfer of information and clients between banking and brokerage groups
• New branding, promotional and electronic marketing efforts to better deploy resources and marketing dollars

The institutional asset management subsidiary of a large, super-regional bank wished to accelerate growth of the business line. Optima Group was engaged to provide an overview of viable options and provide recommendations with regard to their prioritization.

Optima Group provided the following services:
• Assessment of potential opportunities in the single mandate business including identification of asset classes deemed attractive to fill out the firm’s existing product set
• Accounting of the costs of targeted lift outs and a review of key issues related to the lift out process
• Overview of issues related to the acquisition of investment boutiques including selection parameters, valuation and integration
• Analysis of strategic options for structuring an expanded investment management unit
• Examination of the requirements for building out consultant and direct-to-market marketing capabilities for the expanded institutional business

Optima Group provided a full assessment and prioritization of the range of options including:
• Cost/benefit analysis
• Pro forma projections and estimates of success
• M&A advisory recommendations on acquisition targets and pricing
• Strategic guidance on product line and marketing strategies

• Implementation of a targeted lift out strategy to fill product line and performance gaps
• Realignment and enhancement of consultant marketing strategy
• Restructuring of proprietary product line
• Improved cross-sell from commercial banking to institutional asset management business

A leading financial services provider wished to develop an impactful offering designed to meet the needs of the ultra-high-net-worth market.

Optima Group was retained to assess the current offering, examining all aspects of the business. We helped the company refine and reorient its product offering, shift its sales and service structure and develop branding and positioning that better resonated with its expanded target markets.

To develop these solutions, Optima Group provided the following services:
• SWOT Analysis
• Review of current product and service range
• Analysis of current sales and service structure
• Evaluation of brand strength
• Assessment of client satisfaction through direct client interviews

Competitive Review and Benchmarking
• Evaluation of positioning, products, servicing and approach versus key competitors
• Benchmarking of client experience, website, investment management and non-investment management products, sales, service and positioning versus the industry

Branding and Positioning
• Codification of current and aspirational positive and negative attributes
• Development of positioning and messaging platform and key support/proof points
• Creation of robust marketing plan, including recommended components, budget and drive calendar

• Introduction of new brand and positioning
• Revamping of marketing program
• Initiation of global marketing campaigns
• Significant increase of the average client AUM within 12 months

A national insurance company was reevaluating the viability of its investment management subsidiary and its internally managed mutual fund products.

Optima Group was retained to evaluate the short- and long-term distribution opportunities of the proprietary funds and recommend strategic options going forward. After evaluation, we determined that the brand and products of the fund company were not core to our client’s business line, and recommended that they divest the fund company and concentrate on the development of new asset allocation funds that employed a sub-advisory strategy.

To conduct this analysis Optima Group provided the following services:
Opportunity Assessment
• Review of fund flows and performance criteria by both proprietary and third-party distribution channels
• Analysis of products sold by the insurance-based parent company that utilized active and passive investment alternatives
• Revenue and cost analysis under a range of stress tested scenarios

Gap Analysis
• Evaluation of the brand, product quality, performance, and manager selection process for sub-advisors of the fund family and the parent company
• Analysis of the strength of the parent company wholesaling operation and investment subsidiary

Strategic Recommendations
• Presentation of a range of scenarios to the insurance company executive committee
• Modeling, including revenue and balance sheet projections
• Consulting to the executive team regarding the divestiture strategy

New Program Development
• Development of target maturity and target date allocation funds suitable for the insurance company’s distribution capabilities, including pricing and asset classes
• Organizational recommendations for the new fund company
• Branding recommendations and a marketing plan for the new funds

• Asset growth in the new funds to almost $15 billion within three years

A leading independent broker dealer wished to build a new cost-effective offering focused on the mass market.

Optima Group was retained to create a new business model and delivery system to profitably pursue the mass market, develop the business case, and assist the Board of Directors and President in determining commitment and funding.

To address these needs, Optima Group provided the following services:
Review of Market Potential and Competitors
• Conduct qualitative and quantitative research to assess market knowledge and needs
• Research effective mass market delivery systems including other successful providers outside of financial services serving the mass market
• Perform market sizing and dynamics analysis

Strawman Build
• Create a selection of potential organizational and product structures to serve the market including investment products and providers
• Build financial case for each strawman
• Test strawman analysis with potential clients and selling representatives
• Select final model

Evaluation of Current Capabilities and Gap Analysis
• Review of current capabilities
• Development of business requirements including ways to fill potential gaps
• Creation of initial management and staffing models
• Analysis and recommendations for infrastructure and operational systems requirements
• Build out of branding and marketing plan

Financial Modeling
• Full financial modeling of the program for Management and the Board of Directors

• Development of a unique, first of its kind value proposition in the broker dealer industry
• Full Board acceptance of program
• Funding for full roll out
• Entertainment of an independent subsidiary to bring focus and direction to the new effort