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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Financial spreads

Nir Kossovsky - Thursday, January 28, 2010
Reputation is the collective perception held by stakeholders of how a company manages its intangible assets. In the 74-member Capital Markets sector, those intangible assets underlying reputation comprise three types of risk management—operational, market and credit. “In a market system based on trust, reputation has a significant economic value,” noted Alan Greenspan, a former chair of the US Federal Reserve Board. In the absence of trust following the loss of reputation, liquidity is at risk. During the 2007-2009 financial crises, stakeholders perceived failures in one or more of those risk management processes and precipitated the liquidity crisis. We look at some exemplary reputation data.

As described in great detail in the forthcoming book, Mission: Intangible. Managing risk and reputation to create enterprise value, the data show that there is a strong association between reputation and long-term economic returns. The rank order of 3-year returns for BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) shown in the chart above adapted from bigcharts.com correspond to their rank order Steel City Re Corporate Reputation Index metrics and inversely to the volatility value and vector of that metric.

The data also show, as illustrated in the above chart that also shows Morgan Stanley's acute reputation drop, that the Capital Markets sector as a group experienced a reputation rise this past year, but that the variance within this group also increased.

Last, as described previously, the data show that the short term distortions of extraordinary returns following extraordinary losses do not skew the reputation metrics. Firms that have superior reputations are more resilient, will fall more slowly in periods of upheaval, and therefore have less ground to regain. The bright side of this relative lack of short-term upside is that the lower volatility translates to lower cost of capital.

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