Corporate Repositioning at Cantor Fitzgerald
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Holmes Report

Corporate Repositioning at Cantor Fitzgerald

Almost everything has changed in our post-9/11 world, and Cantor Fitzgerald was not immune to these changes. Immediately after the attacks on the world trade center, the world mourned and prayed for the company that lost 658 people.

Paul Holmes

Almost everything has changed in our post-9/11 world, and Cantor Fitzgerald was not immune to these changes. Immediately after the attacks on the world trade center, the world mourned and prayed for the company that lost 658 people. However, that sympathy quickly turned to anger as the CEO announced he was stopping pay checks in order to save the company and customers realized their needs might be better served with a competing entity that did not have both infrastructure and PR disasters to deal with.

As the third anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, the company needed to showcase its rebuilding efforts to current and potential customers and win back the hearts of the general public. It was imperative that Cantor Fitzgerald, and its trading technology subsidiary, eSpeed, prove to the financial community that the businesses were focused, successful and aggressively expanding while also taking care of the families and loved ones of those lost on 9/11.

Euro RSCG Magnet’s challenge was to address customer wavering and increased competition in the space by raising awareness for Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed’s business model, while promoting its resiliency, competitive advantages and future plans for growth. Additionally, it was critical to communicate the company’s good will and community they built for the victims’ families, including its pledge to donate 25 percent of its profits, which, to date, has raised more than $140 million for the victims’ families. As Cantor Fitzgerald will continue its 25 percent profit pledge until 2006, the success of the company is crucial. The more money the company makes, the more money the victims’ families receive.

Crucial objective points include: positioning Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed as not only successfully rebuilding their businesses after 9/11, but also significantly diversifying and expanding their services, raise awareness for the community Cantor Fitzgerald has created through its commitment to the victims’ families and loved ones and eliminate customer doubts on the companies’ stability.

The primary focus within the financial services community is fixed-income and equities traders, heads of sales & trading desks, and c-level executives at institutional trading firms. Euro RSCG Magnet was initially going to reach out to the trade publications that service this target audience, however, upon further analysis and discussions with trading desks, incorporated the importance of public opinion within the financial and business world and realized to target national business press to reach both this target as well as the general business audience.

Euro RSCG Magnet conducted extensive research, analyzing all of the company’s media coverage since the events of September 11, 2001. The media analysis project enabled Euro RSCG Magnet to uncover the root of current perceptions and allowed the understanding of why both the general public and the company’s customer set were uneasy with Cantor Fitzgerald’s future.

Additionally, in order to fully understand internal and external perceptions, Euro RSCG Magnet interviewed traders within Cantor Fitzgerald as well as current customers and potential leads, giving us insight on both the capabilities of the company as well as the external opinion of Cantor Fitzgerald and its management team.

Based on our research findings, Euro RSCG Magnet established new messaging and positioning, and identified new spokespeople to avoid Howard Lutnick being the only “voice” of the company while also showcasing subject matter expertise within each of its product offerings.

After extensive media training to ensure new spokespeople were able to deliver the business story without losing sight of the community the company had created for its victims’ families, Euro RSCG Magnet “relaunched” Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed and aggressively pursued profile stories to highlight the company’s success. The spokespeople, as appropriate, were encouraged to “open their offices” to influential reporters, ensuring both the business story and the human interest angle were clearly understood while being more impactful with an in-person delivery. We also established relationships with broadcast outlets to further broaden the reach of our messages. Finally, we created collateral material, press releases and media advisories to report the company’s success, its contributions to family members and, most importantly, its commitment to continued growth.

The evaluation of the campaign’s success was based on the following merits: there has been a clear shift from the media, which previously had a negative perception with little understanding of their financial technology business.

Currently, articles are more balanced and show a clear appreciation of the business and its growth opportunities: thousands of media hits which highlight the company’s various business groups and new messaging have appeared since the company’s relaunch. (NY Times profile included in case study attachment); key hires were made in several of Cantor Fitzgerald’s business groups, which have expanded to better diversify and continue growing. Several hundred hires have been made since the relaunch of the businesses, including new senior management.

The company is also planning, on a global scale, to hire at least 400 more people over the next two years and the company continues to diversify their business lines, adding new products and services to both Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed. Their growth is far outpacing their space needs and they will be moving to new headquarters in March 2005.

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