How Technology Is Changing the Way We Book and Price Meetings | WeConvene

Pricing for meetings - the changing landscape

In June 2017, we wrote in our whitepaper Preparations for MiFID II - Are you sure this is the right way? that for the industry to move forward in terms of corporate access pricing there needed to be an open and honest conversation between the sell side and their clients around both the value and true cost of the service being provided. Our sense at the time was that the process of price discovery was still at a very early stage but just a few months on and it is clear that progress is being made and a number of firms are starting to clearly define their positions.

The advent of MiFID II has forced asset managers to actually think about whether the meetings they attend are useful in generating alpha, how much that alpha may or may not be worth and importantly, how they should actually pay. Based on our conversations with the asset managers who have progressed the furthest through this evaluation process, they have no doubt as to the usefulness of meetings in generating alpha and regarding how to actually pay for those meetings, the most common approach being taken is to ask service providers for a price on each specific unit of service (individual meeting) they want to consume.

Based on our discussions across the sell side although there still appears to be a lack of consensus on whether pricing for individual meetings is feasible there is certainly a select group of firms that view a transparent, transactional corporate access marketplace as the future. The challenge they now face is - where to start? Corporate access meetings have never been thought of in terms of an individual “transaction” and this is reflected in the complete lack of systems in place to complete basic actions such as, displaying a price to clients, generating an invoice or event collecting payment.

This is forcing teams on the sell side to think about issues they have never had to previously consider. In the words of one Head of Sales at a large US based bank, “Currently we have absolutely no way of solving for this problem”.

The most basic element of a monetary transaction is the display of a price, but even this presents a challenge. Corporate Access meetings have historically been marketed to clients by salespeople who use email, chat message or phone as the main mechanism to market and book the meetings. Emails are notorious for being missed and when we consider the volume of meetings that happen on a daily basis it is clear that using email or even chat messages as a way to both state a price and receive client acceptance of that price will create a mountain of manual data reconciliation and mistakes. With even smaller asset managers engaging in 1000+ meetings a year and this scaling up to 200+ meetings a week for some of the largest global firms, there is no way that a marketplace based on email, chat messages or verbal confirmations is sustainable.

Getting a bit more granular, once a meeting has been booked and price accepted, how should late cancellations or no-shows be handled? Although something that the larger asset managers are actively trying to reduce, there is still a culture on the buy side of booking meetings and then not turning up, especially at the larger conferences. If someone buys a cinema or concert ticket and then decides not to attend, they certainly don’t get a refund, will the same principle be applied when it comes to corporate access meetings?

Moving onto the next stage - after the meeting has happened and attendance logged, this needs to be accurately tracked and an invoice generated. The current Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems that the vast majority of the sell side use are not designed to either track individual meeting prices or produce an invoice. One large sell side firm we have spoken to, suggested that “activity could be tracked and tallied up via outlook calendar meeting records”, considering our point above about the sheer volume of meetings that happen, the most likely result of this approach is an unsustainable amount of admin for salespeople and a lot of errors.

At the other end of the scale, how should the small hedge fund that only attends a few meetings a quarter be treated? Is there enough value for a large sell side firm to chase client invoices worth only a few hundred (or even thousand) dollars. Most medium sized companies engaged in the provision of goods or services to customers have departments whose sole function is to invoice and “chase”payment - the equivalent functions on the sell side are not currently structured to operate in this way. Invoicing clients based on a unit of service (the corporate access meeting), will require a significant change in operations in order to successfully implement a per meeting pricing model.

It is obvious that although many on both the buy and sell side see the benefits in moving to a transactional corporate access marketplace, implementation will require considerable effort. From our perspective, the only route forward is to embrace technology. As the corporate access landscape has evolved due to MiFID II, we are more convinced than ever that the only way to build a fully functioning market place is to connect all the main stakeholders on a unified platform that allows providers to list their meetings and consumers to search for the meetings they are interested in, view a price and book in real-time, with every interaction automatically tracked for easy invoicing. Basically, the OpenTable.com for Corporate Access.


About WeConvene

WeConvene is a global, independently owned web-based platform that automates corporate access consumption and evaluation for the investment community. Events large and small directly impact investment strategies and WeConvene provides value to buy-side, sell-side and corporate organizations by enabling efficient discovery, booking and tracking of meetings. To learn more, visit us at www.weconvene.com or request a demo.

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