Responding to changing times in the middle market
Giving clients the tools they need to manage a challenging environment
In addition to unprecedented human tragedy, the COVID-19 pandemic presented enormous economic challenges for businesses, with particular concerns for the middle market. A series of government lockdowns led to reduced demand, global supply chain disruptions, a shift to remote work, labor constraints, weakened data security and other issues as midsize companies struggled to keep the lights on.
RSM responded quickly with a host of resources to help companies navigate the volatile environment. Following the rollout of a Coronavirus Resource Center on RSMUS.com at the onset of the pandemic, the firm developed a series of Middle Market Business Index special reports themed around reopening the economy, with insights on topics such as managing a decentralized workforce, building community in a virtual work environment and deploying new technologies to ensure workplace safety.
The core MMBI report continued stepped-up monthly tracking of middle market business sentiment, in addition to its historical quarterly dispatches, allowing RSM’s economists, practitioners and growing ranks of industry eminents to stay plugged in on trending middle market issues: revenue, profit, hiring, the cost of labor and materials, and the pace of capital investment, as well as special topics such as cybersecurity and corporate social responsibility.
An MMBI pulse survey following the presidential election honed in on hot-button issues, including middle market expectations for U.S. tax reform, growing regulation and rejoining the global economy. Among the report’s most encouraging findings was the sustained optimism that midsize companies held for the future, highlighting their ability to pivot under unprecedented circumstances. An election resource center on RSMUS.com also offered perspectives on the outcome for middle market businesses, with content ranging from a breakdown on then President-elect Biden’s tax platform and related planning tactics, to consideration for trade policy, green initiatives and infrastructure spending under different scenarios.
RSM’s industry eminents pressed ahead with data-driven perspectives, including quarterly Real Economy Industry Outlook reports for their respective sectors. Their timely insights on The Real Economy Blog found new audiences; readership nearly quadrupled from the pandemic’s outset in March to year-end.
The firm’s first-choice advisors stayed ahead of emerging trends such as record-low interest rates, helping clients develop plans to make overdue investment in new technologies as they wrestled with accelerated digital transformation brought on by the pandemic economy.
Meanwhile, RSM’s public policy team moved forward with efforts to elevate the middle market’s voice in Washington, D.C., bringing the firm’s practitioners and clients to Capitol Hill. The team educated lawmakers about emerging concerns such as challenges with the application process for Paycheck Protection Program loans and other hurdles related to economic stimulus, including industry-specific issues such as the problems rural health care facilities faced in getting relief.
The momentum around resource development continues. Behind the scenes, the firm set in motion plans to expand its MMBI commentary to the United Kingdom, readying for a launch of a U.K. index in early 2022, and to broaden its economics team to better serve the needs of resilient middle market clients throughout North America.