The Shrinking Economy

Lessons From the Front Lines

and consumers turn to their computers more for online purchases, news updates, and catching up on their favorite television shows, advertisers are determining the most effective ways to get clients’ messages across. “There is no getting around it, digital media is going to be a part of everything we do and it’s going to be a part of everything consumers are going to face,” Coleman says.

“We typically shy away from clients that we have to convince to market to African Americans,” says FUSE’s Franklin. “We refuse to go into African American buying power statistics or that media habits are different. Any client that doesn’t know this information should not be managing a marketing budget.”

5 CONSIDER CONSOLIDATION. “Two things the Hispanic agencies have done well is coming together in association and building a strong presence in the media. Black ad agencies and black media haven’t really done that. I am big advocate of solidarity if it’s coming together and pooling resources,” Williams Osse says. Burrell Co-chief Executive Fay Ferguson says consolidation would be a viable option if you could find agencies that don’t have conflicting clients. For example, Burrell represents McDonald’s while New York-based UniWorld Group (No. 3 on the be advertising agencies list with $202.1 million in billings) retains it No. 1 competitor, Burger King, as a client.


The generals at some of the nation’s top black-owned financial services companies see as many opportunities as the countless challenges they’ve had to deal with in recent years. An economy in recovery, potential help from the federal government, and a chance to boost market share from fallen rivals has prompted these leaders to reposition their businesses for future growth and profitability.

The equity markets rebounded strongly last year: the Dow Jones industrial average gained 18.8%, the S&P 500 rose nearly 23.5%, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 43.9%, according to SNL Financial in Charlottesville, Virginia. Against this backdrop, a number of CEOs of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, asset managers, investment banks, and private equity firms have been mapping out new strategies for growth. Here’s a look at their lessons:

1 PREPARE FOR CHANGE. “With Katrina and the recession over the past four years, you have to be prepared for change,” says Alden McDonald Jr., president and CEO of New Orleans-based Liberty Bank and Trust Co. (No. 6 on the be banks list with $425.1 million in assets). “If you’re not, you’ll fail.”

2 BE TRANSPARENT. “You have to be able to quickly and effectively communicate to your clients and employees what the market confusion and chaos means for them and your investment strategies,” says Thurman V. White Jr., CEO of Progress

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