RSM Journeys: Inside the Eminence Program
In the fall of 2018, RSM in the United States and Canada launched the RSM Industry Eminence Program. I was selected to join the class of 2019 and I am the first Canadian member to be chosen. RSM designed the Eminence Program to prepare and position a new generation of firm leaders as senior analysts to understand, forecast and communicate macroeconomic issues that affect the middle market industries RSM serves. Each year, only 10-12 professionals get to participate in this cutting-edge program that is focused on teaching analysts how to decipher economic data in context and use it to understand trends and support accurate forecasting for clients.
While the program was designed to deliver our firm’s strategy – the power of being understood – to the industries that we serve, for me it has helped me become very present in the market. By that I mean, with this training, I am able to become a core, real-time resource for leaders as they navigate the economic and technological shifts with the greatest impacts on their business.
My journey up until now
I come from a unique perspective. My focus is on insurance within financial services, specifically, as an actuary working in the Canadian insurance industry. This means that I am very data-driven to begin with; I’ve provided a range of property and casualty actuarial insurance management and enterprise risk management consulting services for clients across the industry spectrum and I am well versed in using data to manage risk. However, being a part of the eminence program, my education in data has not been new so much as different. The eminence training has helped me take a step back and understand gross domestic product (GDP), consumer behaviour, and other macroeconomic levers that play into C-suite decisions. I’m now able to speak and add value at that level. This changes the audience of who I can relate to and has given me a much broader perspective on data.
I applied to the program a few months after joining RSM Canada as a director. I was looking to up the game of the insurance practice as one of the senior analysts for financial services. As a mature industry, insurance doesn't always grow as quickly as other industries and the program gave us an opportunity to elevate ourselves.
Once accepted, a kick-off meeting sets the stage for the three-year program. This meeting still stands out to me as one of the most memorable experiences of the entire program. I remember this was a big “aha” moment for me; I realized the extent to which the eminence program would transform my career, as well the firm, and this meeting set the bar for all of my experience thereafter. The investment RSM makes in its talent is industry-leading and truly inspiring.
Senior analysts gain access to the Bloomberg terminal, which provides data feeds from the world’s markets, all live and accessible in one platform. We were also assigned readings that pushed our understanding of what it means to be a service provider in the new economy. I gained in-depth knowledge of everything from crowdfunding to machine learning, as well as changes to the professional services industry. At the end of year one, my class attended a 3-day intensive on effective public speaking training at Carnegie Mellon, which normally forms part of their MBA program. Since then, I’ve been interviewed by major business media outlets, including CNBC. The training has helped my colleagues and I frame ourselves mentally as thought leaders, spokespeople and public-facing subject matter experts.
The senior analysts deliver hyper-relevant insights for the industries that our clients operate in, reinforcing the fact that RSM understands client issues and needs, from the C-level perspective.
Some senior analysts deliver thought leadership and forecasts to those industries where they are experts while others become part of pursuit processes, providing insights during the proposal stages with target companies, for example. Others may be brought in as part of strategic meetings with key clients and targets. I have addressed large key accounts and spoken to C-suite members, including chief financial officers and chief risk officers, for prospecting, cross-selling, or simply to serve as a sounding board, someone who understands the risks, can interpret and represent the data meaningfully, and help clients make the connection between strategy and action. For example, my fellow senior analysts and I rigorously document earnings calls, diving deeper into the data to find and share themes the clients can take action on immediately.
The impact of COVID 19
COVID-19 threw a sense of urgency into the eminence program. My colleagues and I mobilized to provide quick responses to ongoing issues. As a result, we published three dozen articles and contributed to numerous webcasts, all within the month of March. For me, this encapsulates the value of the program. Because the training has provided me with such a pulse on the industry, I envision the senior analysts being closely involved in recovery plans. The education has increased my ability to help clients manage their businesses through these times of deep uncertainty by delivering insights that they need right now. For example, I’ve been able to assist clients with navigating solutions and making decisions as to where to scale down and how to leverage government programs to stay in business.
What the future holds
When our firm recently launched the third class of the eminence program, my colleague David Stuart summarized the expectations towards the program in its beginning perfectly: “I’m most excited to share with others what I learn and to help RSM become a first-choice advisor for the middle market. I expect the program will teach me how to think differently. How to think outside the box.”
Going forward, I see the value of the eminence program will only continue to accelerate. In year three, for example, there are plans to assign an eminent to a crown jewel client as a touchpoint and serve as an industry advisor in a more formal way. Overall, the experience has been nothing short of transformative. It has allowed me to focus beyond my sector to deliver enterprise-level insights with confidence and clarity.
For insights to bolster your response to COVID-19, visit RSM Canada's Resource Centre.