In the history of the UK’s financial services industry the name The Equitable Life still stands out in infamy as a company whose public failure in 2000 had drastic consequences for its customers and shareholders.
This is not a blog about that episode, but an attempt to rehabilitate the word “equitable”, which was undeniably tarnished by the whole affair.
I’m convinced that one of the reasons why that company achieved the success that it did is that it had a good brand. It proclaimed itself to be trustworthy (first & oldest mutual life assurance company in the UK), and fair. Many customers were attracted to it because it matched their own personal values. This only made the shock of failure greater.
But why try and rehabilitate such a word? Well, it’s a great term! The (business) dictionary definition of equity in this context is:
Fairness and impartiality towards all concerned, based on the principles of evenhanded dealing. Equity implies giving as much advantage, consideration, or latitude to one party as it is given to another. Along with economy, effectiveness, and efficiency, Equity is essential for ensuring that extent and costs of funds, goods and services are fairly divided among their recipients.”
It’s ironic that The Equitable Life was predominantly a B2C company, because it’s in B2B that the word perfectly describes how the customer/supplier relationship should work!
In B2B, it is patently not in the long-term interests of the client company to have weak and failing suppliers – yet we all-too-often see the effects of short termism and commoditisation in big business, forcing cuts down the supply chain.
Indeed, many big organisations give the impression in how they act (although often not in what they say) that they don’t care about their suppliers.
In short, the concept of equitable trading – “evenhanded dealing” has been sacrificed to short-term gain and knee-jerk reaction to economic circumstances.
This is why our Customer Attuned model has equitability at its heart as one of the three vital underpinning drivers of B2B success (alongside trust and interdependence). We passionately believe that building equitability into your customer management will deliver sustained, profitable competitive advantage for your business.