Stout Executives Share How Relentless Excellence Allows Us to Thrive

Stout Executives Share How Relentless Excellence Allows Us to Thrive

December 08, 2022

The professional services industry is changing. More data is available than ever before, the market landscape is increasingly complex, and digital communication has changed the way that companies and clients interact. At Stout, we apply the same philosophy of relentlessly delivering results to our clients that we apply to staying at the forefront of our industry.

Four Stout leaders discuss how we are poised to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the marketplace:

  • Yvette Bowen, Chief People Officer
  • Michelle Johnson, Chief Revenue Officer
  • Bob Gerardi, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Ryan Gandre, Chief Transformation Officer

How is Stout prepared to scale to meet shifting customer demands and the growth of the market in order to deliver more value to clients?

Michelle Johnson: Today, clients want to hire firms like us when needing to solve elaborate problems. The days of simplicity are gone. When a company is teaming with advisors, they’re not interested in the pat answer. They want to make sure that their thorny, complicated problem can be addressed. And the only way that firms like us can do that well is if we are able to bring in different expertise quickly and in the most relevant manner. More and more often, we’re finding that clients need many different types of expertise to solve a single, very complex problem.

Our culture for collaboration is one of our competitive advantages. And we have specific processes and systems in place to ensure that we are reliably bringing the best of Stout to our clients. We have commercial collaboration teams, a corporate account leadership program, and databases and reports that allow individuals to find capabilities quickly.

How have new digital methods changed the way the industry and Stout develop and foster long-lasting client relationships?

Bob Gerardi: Building and maintaining relationships is and will always be a key priority for any professional services firm. At Stout, being relationship-focused is so important that it is one of our core values, and we pride ourselves on our ability to develop and cultivate relationships with our colleagues, partners, and clients. While nothing can replace human interaction, we believe that we can create meaningful connections via technology and become a go-to resource for value-added content through an excellent digital experience. Some of the things we are focused on are:

  • Developing educational and informative content that addresses topics that are most relevant to our clients
  • Conducting regular voice-of-client surveys to understand how to improve our client’s experience working with us
  • Being good stewards of our clients’ information and adhering to privacy regulations and best practices for engaging with prospects
  • Using marketing technology to enable our client service practice professionals to develop relationships and get feedback on client engagement

Buyers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and we want to make sure that we’re meeting them where they are, which is not only through traditional channels such as events and conferences, but also digitally.

How is technology changing the way work is done across the professional services industry?

Ryan Gandre: Our clients have more data at their fingertips than ever before, which creates an exciting opportunity to glean deeper insights into that data. At the same time, the volume of data can present a challenge to cut through the noise and prepare those larger and larger datasets such that they are organized in the right way to perform analysis. We are focused on utilizing technology and implementing processes that allow our colleagues to decrease time preparing client-provided information and increase “speed to analysis,” because analysis is where we bring the most value.

Relatedly, whenever we see a task that is repetitive within an engagement, or is repetitive across engagements, we seek to automate that process to increase efficiency and reduce the manual effort or repetitive nature of certain tasks.

Finally, a financial modeling best practice is to centralize inputs – that is, to have a single source of inputs that generate outputs. We want that single source of truth. If you zoom out, that can also apply to across the varied client engagements we perform. Often, teammates may be researching the same data point for use in thousands of individual projects. The more that we can create systems and processes that bring the data our teams need where they need it, the more we allow them to be mindful of the assumptions and big picture.

How is Stout preparing a new generation of talent for working in an increasingly complex market landscape?

Ryan Gandre: Technology is a wonderful thing, but there is always a learning curve. As new tools, templates, or other technological capabilities become available, it is critical to invest in the right training to enable our colleagues to successfully incorporate these tools in their personal workflow. These investments are extremely important, not only for the benefit of serving our clients in an efficient and thoughtful way, but also to allow for our colleagues to grow and develop.

Yvette Bowen: As a people-focused business, providing colleagues the resources to adjust to changing and complex markets is crucial to their career development, and their continued development is critical to our long-term growth as a firm.

At Stout, we are taking a three-level approach:

  1. Ensuring that all our colleagues get learning and development opportunities to expand and retool their technical skillsets throughout their career
  2. Focusing on overall business acumen and development to prepare all colleagues to adapt to fluid market environments, client needs, policy changes, as well as client technology shifts
  3. Focusing on leadership skill development at all levels of the firm, not only to be leaders within Stout, but also to be leaders when working with clients who themselves are often navigating complexities in their markets

Above all, guiding us through this complex landscape are our core values as a firm, and staying true to our commitment to clients and colleagues enables us to provide value in any environment.