Financial Printing Outlook -- Clawing Their Way Back
"This 'annual decrease' masks a much lower level of demand in the second half of the year," Masterton remarks. "Instead of the expected recovery, the second half was even worse than the first half, with overall SEC filings down 42 percent from the third quarter of 2001."
Drop in Spending
The investor communications needs of diversified financial services companies have also felt the impact of the depressed economy and the falling stock market, he notes.
"Our customers are reducing their communications spending for both regulatory materials and marketing communications, while new funds and new products have all but dried up."
It's these difficult market conditions that are making 2002 a make or break year for financial printers, according to Robert Johnson, chairman and CEO of Bowne & Co., the largest financial printer in North America with segment sales of $717 million.
"The successful companies will be those able to manage their way through the current environment and take advantage of opportunities when conditions do improve. There are a number of current opportunities—if you have the resources and strategies to go after them," he says.
In the compliance arena, passage of the Sarbannes-Oxley Act and SEC rule changes are driving an increase in the volume and scope of required government filings, including those which must be filed electronically, according to Johnson. In the investment management industry, he says there are opportunities to provide companies with print-on-demand and related services to help them control costs and reduce inventories as they target certain customer groups and seek to raise assets under management. "So, the opportunities are there if you are positioned to grab them," Johnson reports.
Like Bowne, R.R. Donnelley Financial has made the most of the new SEC electronic filing requirements.
"The SEC's accelerated filing requirements have created new opportunities for us, and new options for our capital markets clients," reveals Masterton. "On the day the Sarbannes-Oxley Act went into effect, R.R. Donnelley Financial introduced an "anytime, anywhere" Web-based self-service tool called NET.filer, which allows users to create and file selected SEC forms electronically without our intervention. That's historic and unique in our industry," he states.