The APS format was designed by Mathias and Co. based on its experience of:
- Interviewing over 200 global clients of large wholesale banks
- Training over 16,000 sales professionals in banking and professional services in client coverage workflows
- Observations of the behaviors of top bankers who cover important client relationships.
The Account Plan Synopsis (APS) is designed around the advisory selling workflow (i.e. hierarchical relationship of the client plan; client objectives -> deal milestones).
In effect, it is a strategic coverage plan which captures the big ideas the bank wishes to pitch to its client in the next six months linked upstream to the client agenda and downstream to coverage activity.
The APS format is an analytical framework comprising two parts:
- Forming a View - analyzing client strategy and constraints
- Setting Account Strategy - generation and development of ideas into profitable solutions through the coverage process.
The key benefits of the APS format are:
- Brevity - baseline plans can be captured in 2-4 hours
- Analytical tool - although succinct, the format of the APS encourages rigorous thinking from big picture ideas to coverage detail.
- Aggregation of client data
Each APS contains a sequence of components (listed below) that link client strategy to targeted deals. The APS format is more concise and structured than the conventional client planning format that it replaces - which often has a bias towards free text and historical information.
- Client Objectives - to what is the client committed?
- Client Strategy - how can its objectives be achieved?
- Client Issues - what are the constraints and impediments that need to be managed?
- Strategic Objectives - Which role(s) does the bank want to be allocated by the client?
- Deal Ideas - what are our big ideas that merit the client allocating this role to us?
- Deals - what deals have been identified that contribute to the revenue target?
- Deal Milestones - for a given deal, what are the important elements of the sales campaign to close the deal?
By creating linkages between the components of the plan the banker can draw on institutional knowledge that can be used during the coverage process.
For example, for a given client strategy,
- what issues is the client facing?
- What other clients that have faced similar issues?
- What ideas and solutions did the bank propose in the past?
The number of components used within the APS depends on the preference of the bank and the type of client being covered. For example, short-form APS can be used by markets bankers covering Domestic FI clients, whereas the APS format used for a multi-national corporate client is more likely to use all of the components listed above.
The APS format allows coverage planning to be 'the sum of the parts'; replacing ineffective 'thinking by committee'. For example, Product Specialists can construct focused product plans. Separately, the Relationship Banker creates the linkages between the product plans and the bank's overall view on the client.
Each planning component is described with a short phrase and categorized with reference data customized to the bank's specific requirements. The brevity and structure of the format means the banker is free to focus on thinking and judgment instead of data entry.
Information from individual coverage plans may also be aggregated into dashboard summaries of coverage quality (e.g. issues, ideas, opportunities, and sales activity) across the entire client portfolio.
During the coverage process, reference data describing, say, client objectives (e.g.: 'relevance to product area' or 'performance vs. peers'), are easily updated which means that the plan remains topical.