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New Cranfield Report Highlights Banks are Failing to Measure Future Performance Drivers

Reputation, Talent and Customer Relationships Overlooked in favour of Financial Performance

Actuate Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTU), the leader in Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Reporting Applications, today published a report authored by Bernard Marr, a world expert in Strategic Performance Management and research fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, which reveals that many banks and financial services firms have a far less clear picture of their business, and the factors that will ensure its future success, than they imagine.

The report, ‘Managing Strategic Performance in Banks and Financial Services Firms; From Going through the Motions to Best Practice’ is one of the most comprehensive and high-level studies on Strategic Performance Management in the financial services industry. It takes a uniquely in-depth look at 15 of the world's leading banks and financial services firms (including retail banks, investment banks, universal banks, one central bank and a mutual financial services firm) and their approaches to Performance Management to determine where firms are going wrong. At each company, between two and eight different principals, from MD to COO and CEO, were interviewed at great length about their Performance Management strategies. The results provide very compelling, yet worrying reading.

The report shows that many banks have been lulled into a false sense of security through over-reliance on historical financial information as their guide. They are failing to measure and manage the likely drivers of future performance - such as reputation, talent, customer relationships and organisational culture. Distracted by irrelevant and misleading performance indicators, or worse, failing to observe any of these indicators at all (despite being at pains to gather the data) organisations are selling themselves short by charging ahead with new business strategies, without bringing the rest of the business with them, or ensuring that every part of the firm is aligned with its current goals.

This new report reveals that banks and financial services firms typically fall into three common traps when they approach Performance Management: measurement, compliance and risk – regardless of how formally they are managing performance, or the sophistication of the tools they are harnessing.

Bernard Marr explains, “Despite being overrun with supposedly valuable performance data, many organisations appear to be plodding on regardless of the results. Already bloated Performance Management systems are being further obscured by compliance-related measurements, even though these might have little bearing on the future health of the business as measured by revenues, profit margins, competitive positioning and customer perception.” Bernard continues, “Risk management activities, so vital in the financial services industry, are further clouding the picture. When these are not considered in the context of the wider goals of the business, organisations find themselves held back unnecessarily – or exposed to far greater risk than may be worth it for the business.”

In addition to identifying the challenges that organisations are facing, the report offers a series of best practices which include the effective application of Performance Management techniques, as well as the importance of measuring the factors that matter – not those which can be monitored most readily. These best practices are intended to guide firms toward success as they create a clearly focused, company-wide strategic performance culture.

“Avoiding the traps identified in this research will guide banks in implementing a leading-edge Strategic Performance Management approach to keep them at the forefront of an increasingly competitive sector,” said Richard Stark, director of Performance Management Solutions at Actuate. “Put Performance Management squarely in the context of the future of your business by measuring reputation, talent and customer relationships - use the results to improve behaviour right across the organisation and the results can be extremely powerful. Actuate’s Performancesoft Suite has been designed with this in mind, to drive strategy at all levels, improve decision making, and ensure better operational performance and execution.”