Christopher Barnes

About Christopher Barnes

Chris is managing director of the Financial Services division of Market Strategies, with a deep background in market and public opinion research. His background includes co-founding the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut where he led ongoing studies on the business climate presented to regional economists quarterly. He has led studies for many of the nation’s top companies in insurance, banking, wealth and health insurance sectors. His studies have appeared frequently in the national media, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times and Time cover stories. Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Kenyon College and a master's degree in political science with a concentration in survey research at the University of Connecticut.

The Irony Behind the Perception of Value

The Irony Behind the Perception of ValueEditor’s note: This is part of our Trust and Value blog series for the financial services industry. In the coming months, we’ll share our thoughts and insight into what is happening and what we are seeing in the data we are constantly updating. Subscribe to FreshMR now so you don’t miss any updates.

Value as well as the perception of value is becoming a bigger challenge for financial services firms in a way that directly relates to trust. These days, value is increasingly questioned rather than assumed. Technology is at the forefront of this challenge because clients often don’t have a “feel” for the value provided in their interactions with financial firms.

Despite the work it takes to develop, maintain and update the ability to transact with the swipe of a card or a touch of an app, seamless transactions do not convey value as one would expect. Continue reading

Trust Will Sustain Momentum in the Financial Sector

The Financial Sector Is Up. Building Trust Is Key to Keeping that MomentumEditor’s note: This is part of our Trust and Value blog series for the financial services industry. In the coming months, we’ll share our thoughts and insight into what is happening and what we are seeing in the data we are constantly updating. Subscribe to FreshMR now so you don’t miss any updates.

What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, the market was recovering after hitting the “Jamie Dimon bottom.” Financial services firms faced another year pressured by low yield, compressed margins, cost cuts and new regulations like the DOL Fiduciary rule.

As the first quarter of 2017 came to a close, stocks had helped advance the market to record highs. Rates are normalizing, and with that, slowly but surely, providing higher yield. The prospect of regulatory relief, economic growth and even tax reform are buoying the sector.

While things are looking up for the financial services sector, much of the potential positives have yet to actually be realized and, further still, they require political action, which has the endless capacity to disappoint. In addition, a number of long-term factors remain critical for financial services firms to achieve their own potential. Continue reading

Studies Show Optimism Is an Economic Catalyst

Studies Show Optimism Is an Economic CatalystMarket Strategies conducts numerous thought leadership studies for our clients. These studies are often released under the client brand so you may not even know they were conducted by us when you read about them in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, or hear about them on CNBC. While we can’t give away specific findings from our studies, we can tell you that the most recent studies have been impacted by a fascinating polling phenomenon—optimism. Continue reading

How Harvard University Measured the Economic and Social Impact of its Alumni

Editor’s Note: Competition is fierce for the best students, faculty and administrators. Stakeholders including alumni, donors and corporate sponsors want to understand the ROI universities provide. For universities that wrestle with the best way to prove their unique value to the world, “Academic Impact Research” is a three-part blog series based on our work with Harvard University. It explores types of impact, how impact differs from brand and what you can do to rise above the competition. This is the third and final installment.

Institutions of higher learning are judged by their acceptance standards, graduation rates, success in sports and a myriad of rankings by everyone from The Princeton Review to Rolling Stone. Additionally, many college and universities engage in brand measurement to determine how well they’ve fulfilled their brand promise and upheld their brand image. Although all of these benchmarks provide a perspective on an institution’s value, none of them are as meaningful or as powerful as measuring Alumni Impact.

Brand measurement and other metrics that have been used historically as proof points stop short of demonstrating a university’s true value. Market Strategies believes Alumni Impact Research is the best way institutions of higher learning can meaningfully and accurately demonstrate their contributions to the world, which is exactly what we did in collaboration with Harvard University.

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Universities: Why Academic Impact Research is More Powerful than Brand Research

Editor’s Note: Competition is fierce for the best students, faculty and administrators. Stakeholders including alumni, donors and corporate sponsors want to understand the ROI universities provide. For universities that wrestle with the best way to prove their unique value to the world, “Academic Impact Research” is a three-part blog series based on our work with Harvard University. It explores types of impact, how impact differs from brand and what you can do to rise above the competition. This is the second installment.

The ability to differentiate from the competition has never been more important to colleges and universities. Competition for the best and brightest students, faculty and administrators is unprecedented. And, there is unparalleled competition for funding and support from all sources.

To that end, universities around the world are making a significant investment in their brand. Working with marketing professionals and consultants, they strive to build brand strategies that include clever taglines and new logos aimed at defining who they are and how they are different from the competition. But, what really lies behind those brand promises, and what are they doing to prove their value to students and the rest of the world?

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Academic Impact Research: How Universities Can Prove Their Unique Contributions to the World

Editor’s Note: Competition is fierce for the best students, faculty and administrators. Stakeholders including alumni, donors and corporate sponsors want to understand the ROI universities provide. For universities that wrestle with the best way to prove their unique value to the world, “Academic Impact Research” is a three-part blog series based on our work with Harvard University. It explores types of impact, how impact differs from brand and what you can do to rise above the competition. This is the first installment.

Institutions of higher learning hold the keys to the future. Within them reside the world’s most important centers of research and the greatest opportunities for future generations to solve our world’s problems. Through the accomplishments of their alumni, these pillars of learning have made significant contributions that define their value to the world. However, believing that alumni have had a noteworthy impact and defining that impact are different matters entirely.

Market Strategies International, in conjunction with Harvard University, has established an approach to measuring a university’s impact by measuring the accomplishments of its alumni. Accomplishments can take many forms and can be defined in many ways, but in order for them to be meaningful and successful in demonstrating impact, they must meet certain criteria.

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Negative Interest Rate Policies Do More Harm Than Good

United States policy makers are weighing whether a negative interest rate policy (NIRP) will help or hinder the economy. The lingering effects of the financial crisis raise questions about the effectiveness and potential impact NIRPs stand to have on both consumers and financial institutions.

Although the goal to reassure the strength of the U.S. recovery and protect against inevitable future downturns is noble, this central bank policy does little to benefit the economy. NIRP is a radical policy tool previously used in rare situations, such as the Swiss banks’ attempt to stem the flow of foreign cash taking advantage of the country’s legendary bank secrecy laws. Now we’re seeing the fallout of the Japanese central bank’s adoption of NIRP, which was intended to incentivize spending in a nation of savers, but has had an inverse effect. If adopted in the U.S., a NIRP will upend America’s basic understanding of how financial institutions work and have far-reaching consequences that would create a ripple effect throughout the financial services industry.

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