Corporate Eye

Corporate Identities Grapple With Disclosing Financial Information

Talk Money…Don’t

One of the things that our parents taught us when we were young was to never discuss the family’s business with anybody. Especially the family’s finances. No one needed to know how much money Dad made a year or how much Mom’s bonus check was from her employer. It just wasn’t anybody’s business.

Corporate living taught us that it was taboo to discuss pay, raises, bonuses and anything financially related to our jobs. It was just something that you did not do. And, in certain corporate clients, discussing financial matters could get you severely reprimanded, or worse, terminated – – and rightfully so. Considering that if employees #A and #B were hired at both the same time, for the same job and had the same skill set, but employee #A made $15,000 more than employee #B, it would stand to figure that one of these employees may be highly disgruntled and make his employer’s life miserable. Which is why you just do not discuss money.

Given the current economic state of parts of the country and of corporate entities, companies are starting to rethink the posture of not talking about their financial picture. Layoffs are in abundance, companies are shutting down, filing bankrupt and losing revenue at rapid paces. All of these activities greatly upset consumer confidence and is a big contributing factor when they are deciding to spend or not to spend.

Companies ideally want consumers to have a healthy, robust image of their company or product and want them to feel good when they consider spending their money with them. The bottom line is that businesses and consumers are hesitant about spending money if they don’t think the company is secure or stable. With issues like the Enron situation and the plight of the auto manufacturer’s, people think twice before writing out their checks…or even trusting someone else.

Your Company’s Disclosure

Sharing your corporate’s financial picture may be something you want to consider in an effort to appeal to your customer base. A good idea? Sure it is given that it could quite possibly work in your favor rather than against. In a news article, Fidelity decided to disclose their financial information to their readers and consumer’s, hoping to dissuade any negative feelings or misinformation about the company’s financial health. A bold move on their part, Fidelity hopes to alleviate some of the angst that consumers may be feeling and try to instil in them a sense of calm and assurance in Fidelity’s financial matters. Here is a blurb taken from their mission statement that pointedly outlines what they do:

Fidelity Investments is an international provider of financial services and investment resources. In addition to more than 300 Fidelity mutual funds, the Company also offers discount brokerage services, retirement services, estate planning, wealth management, securities execution and clearance and life insurance, among others. Fidelity Management & Research Company (FMR Co.) is the investment advisor to Fidelity’s family of mutual funds. In May 2007, the Company sold 91% of its American Depositary Receipts (ADR) in PetroChina.

With a company like Fidelity with many diversified interests and investment areas, they are aware as any other corporate entity that any of their areas of interest can take a turn quickly and cause consumer concern. What Fidelity has done to assuage this is to be proactive in assuring their customers that they are fiscally sound and operating efficiently. A plus for Fidelity Investments and a plus for corporate entities who follow the same path. Fidelity has stated that they will post publicly the company’s financial state and offer links and information on their actual company’s figures.

Can you do what Fidelity has done with your corporate site? Should you do that with your corporate site? How would you handle tough financial questions about your company’s financial health, especially those that prod and insinuate?

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Bridget Wright

Writer, Blogger
I am a freelance writer, blogger and professional motivational speaker. I primarily focus on business content, offering my clients strategic marketing strategies for their businesses. I have been an entrepreneur for over 13 years, after having worked extensively in corporate America.