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AFP 2015 Preview: David Nour on Business Relationships

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 9/15/2015
NourTreasury and finance professionals who are concerned that their business relationships are missing something won’t want to miss David Nour’s session at the 2015 AFP Annual Conference in Denver.

Nour, growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics®, emphasizes the importance of strong, carefully nurtured relationships in business. According to him, relationships are the greatest off balance sheet asset any organization possesses. Nour, executive director of The Relationship Economics Institute and lead independent director on the board of introNetworks, will show you how to craft truly effective business relationships both internally and externally.

AFP recently spoke with Nour about his upcoming presentation and what makes business relationships work in today’s increasingly disconnected business environment.

AFP: Can you talk a bit about what you mean by Relationship Economics, and how it applies to treasury and finance professionals?

David Nour:
I’ve spent the last two decades really being a student of business relationships—what works, what doesn’t, and why some, naturally or just through sheer experience, are better at it. I can’t imagine another profession than financial services that is more trust-centric. Trust is fundamental to what your profession does; most people are pretty comfortable with the financial advisors they have. Most financial professionals I’ve met really understand the importance of relationships, but I’m not sure they really understand the significance.

In my experience, a lot of financial professionals are good at the ‘busy work’ of relationships. They go to lunch, they go have coffee—but I wonder if they know how to bridge that to relationship capitalization. They confuse a lot of that busy work, which I call ‘vibration’, with forward motion. So what I talk about is this overall concept that I call Relationship Economics. It’s a disciplined, systematic, repeatable, predictable process. It really capitalizes on the contacts you build by nurturing them over time.

AFP: Why do you think corporate treasury and finance professionals get stuck in an old mindset when it comes to relationships? What can they do to make sure that they are nurturing them the right way and making Relationship Economics work for them?

Nour:
The first chapter of my “Relationship Economics” book goes into the top 10 reasons most networking doesn’t work. For a lot of corporate treasury and finance professionals, it just isn’t part of their education system. It also isn’t part of many companies’ new hire training or management training and development. If you think about leadership development programs, they focus on what they call soft skills. Those get bucketed into an afternoon of a weeklong leadership development program.

The idea is to become more disciplined in the manner in which you identify, nurture, build and leverage relationships. Somehow in our society, we just assume people know how to do this. We assume they learned it somewhere. We assume that they’ve had good role models.

Corporate treasury and finance professionals need relationships to help them get things done. People will prioritize projects and initiatives for people they know, like and respect. One of the misperceptions about relationships is that they’re purely external—customers, investors, the market at large, etc. One of the topics I talk about are your internal company relationships. What are you doing to become more disciplined in that process?

AFP: Let’s talk a bit about your upcoming session at the AFP Annual Conference. How will you show attendees the mistakes they don’t realize they're making when it comes to business relationships? What are some key points that AFP members will be able to take away and apply to their daily lives?

Nour:
When we get together in Denver, I’m going to show people the relationship currency roadmap. It starts with the end goal. What are the goals you cannot achieve by yourself? You want to be a better person? You want to read more? That’s fantastic. You want to get almost anything else done? You’re going to need relationships to help you get there. So you want to start with some sort of outcome. What end result are we after? We call those relation-centric goals.

Next is this idea of pivotal context. Who do you need? It’s all about who you know. We all know a lot of people, but how many of them have you invested in? And how many of them have realized it, so that you can get a return on that investment? Your relationship bank is a critical one that we don’t nurture nearly as much as well as we could.

Sociologists tell us that the average individual can manage about 100 to 150 relationships. Here’s a million dollar question for you—which ones? And how do you know? And what relationships are you neglecting, to the detriment of your personal and professional growth or your ability to get that next project done?

The whole process is predicated by what I call relationship currency deposits. What investment efforts are you willing or able to make? You can’t invest in everybody equally. So what investments can you make that really start to accelerate that entire process. When you do this in a systematic, disciplined fashion—and they’ve done this at KPMG, Disney and Siemens—we call it strategic relationship planning. We all get that it’s important, but very few people are disciplined about what they do and how they do it.

Go identify the most successful people in any company or any industry, and I would submit that, beyond their educational foundation and their professional pedigree, their ability to engage with others is one of their biggest success drivers.

Don’t miss David Nour’s session at the 2015 AFP Annual Conference. More information is available here.

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