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Information Technology Degree

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JULIANA HURTADO DIANA TORO JUAN PABLO CHÁVEZ

Leerink Swann & Co.: Creating Competitive Advantage
¿Cuáles son los aspectos claves de la operación del negocio de la compañía durante sus primeros diez años? ¿De qué manera la empresa: a) estableció su negocio, b) reunió experiencia, c) organizó sus operaciones y c) coordinó sus procesos interdependientes de producción? Jeff Leerink, quien se desempeñaba como director comercial en Fechtor, un banco de inversión de la ciudad de Boston, decidió retirarse de esa institución cuando una de sus ideas de inversión fue rechazada por los socios del banco. Eric Swann, quien también trabajaba en el departamento comercial en Fechtor, decidió unirse a Leerink en su retirada. Desde que trabajaba en Fechtor, Leerink había visto una gran oportunidad en el mercado accionario del cuidado de la salud, en el área de asesorías de inversión. Él consideraba que el comportamiento de las acciones de ese sector no era bien comprendido por el mercado, y que eran demasiado escasas las asesorías que lograban hacer un análisis preciso de él. Leerink, atendiendo esta necesidad del mercado y en compañía de Eric Swann, decidió conformar, en 1995, Leerink Swann & Co., una firma boutique de servicios financieros. Esta compañía, por el “lado de la compra”, funcionaba como una firma de gestión de capital y, por el “lado de la venta”, funcionaba como corredora de bolsa, aprovechando el insumo de las investigaciones de inversión por ambos lados. Apoyándose de buenos colaboradores del sector, y de una buena basede clientes fieles, la compañía entró en funcionamiento. Entre quienes acompañaron a Jeff Leerink en su idea fundadora estaban Rob, su hermano menor, y Tom Wynn, un amigo de infancia de Rob que había trabajado en ventas en Lehman. Leerink aprovechó el manifiesto aburrimiento en sus trabajaos de muchas personas con gran experiencia comercial, para atraerlas a que trabajaran a su lado. De esta forma, reunió experiencia en su nueva organización. El siguiente paso consistió en especializarse en un campo específico: la industria de las ciencias para el cuidado de la vida. Leerink decidió crear una empresa de riesgo compartido con su amigo, el Dr. Dan Dubin, quien se encargó de aportar todo su conocimiento y los contactos; Leerink, por su parte, aportó el capital. Se conformó entonces la firma MEDACorp, la cual logró reclutar a más de 100 médicos en el primer año (1996). Esta compañía ofrecía investigación especializada en temas específicos, y fue la punta de lanza para hacer recomendaciones de inversión sobre nuevos productos médicos y para el cuidado de la salud. Posteriormente, MEDACorp fue más allá, haciendo recomendaciones de inversión sobre acciones de las compañías que creaban estos productos. Años más tarde, tras una negociación con el Dr. Dubin en la cual él obtuvo una participación en Leerink Swann, MEDACorp pasó a ser parte de esta compañía. Aspectos claves de la operación del negocio durante sus primeros diez años: atraer clientes fieles; reunir personal experimentado; crear una compañía de inversión que actuara tantopor el lado de la venta como por el lado de la compra; realizar investigaciones científicas y financieras sobre productos y generar recomendaciones de inversión precisas, especializándose en una industria muy específica; alta

necesidad de diferenciación para competir con éxito en un mercado altamente competitivo; no depender de los mejores analistas financieros de Wall Street, cuyos salarios eran exorbitantes, sino de la especialización y de la fuente de datos única de MEDACorp; credibilidad, que fue lograda paulatinamente, mediante una nueva forma de hacer recomendaciones de inversión con base en investigaciones científicas.

¿Qué implicaciones tiene para el futuro de la organización los cambios en: a) la industria relacionada con la salud, b) en el mercado profesional, c) los competidores de la organización, los clientes?, ¿cómo estos cambios afectan la lineación de la organización? La industria relacionada con la salud había tenido un boom importante en la biotecnología, lo que le había permitido a Leerink Swann tener amplias posibilidades de llevar a cabo investigaciones y recomendaciones de inversión sobre las acciones de las firmas que fabricaban estos productos. Sin embargo, este mercado estaba aproximándose a su madurez en el año 2005. Por esa misma época, la competencia para Leerink Swann ya era bastante, y crecía cada vez más. Sin embargo, era claro que ninguno de sus competidores estaba exclusivamente enfocado en las ciencias médicas y de la salud, por lo que ninguno de ellos estaba en la capacidad deofrecer recomendaciones tan precisas en la industria como Leerink Swann. A pesar de esto, había un aspecto que sí constituía una preocupación para la compañía: las estrategias de precios de sus competidores eran demasiado agresivas, y esto estaba conduciendo a la “comoditización” de las investigaciones clínicas. Adicionalmente, el negocio se estaba enfrentando a costos crecientes y precios a la baja. Por estas razones, Leerink Swann había determinado estar muy cerca de sus clientes, atendiendo sus necesidades específicas y escuchando sus deseos. Esto, por supuesto, era cada vez más difícil. Aunque lo que constituía un gran punto de diferenciación era la gran especialización de los expertos médicos que conducía a recomendaciones de inversión altamente confiables, algunos clientes comenzaron a solicitar que se hicieran investigaciones de inversión de la forma como Wall Street lo hacía. Otros, que combinaran ambos métodos. Y otros, que no olvidaran la forma tradicional de hacer las cosas, donde los expertos médicos eran la clave del éxito en las recomendaciones de inversión. Por otra parte, la organización comenzó a evidenciar un problema de burocratización en su estructura. Algunos puestos eran asignados de una manera muy informal. Muchos líderes contratados en la compañía contaban con talentos excepcionales y gran experiencia, pero carecían de la capacidad de trabajar efectivamente en equipo. Adicionalmente, algunos analistas comenzaron a percibir que el plan de compensación afectaba sus ingresos. Y aunque la gran mayoríaconsideraba que las condiciones laborales eran muy buenas, y que éstas fomentaban el trabajo con calidad y el compañerismo, la percepción negativa de algunos no dejaba de ser un asunto preocupante. Todos estos factores dificultaban la lineación de la organización, pues se requería entrar a competir con precios más bajos, enfrentando la “comoditización” de las investigaciones clínicas, y las diversas solicitudes de los clientes en cuanto a cómo llevar a cabo las recomendaciones de inversión.

¿Es el momento adecuado para expandir el negocio por medio de banca de inversión?, ¿o puede usted recomendar una estrategia de crecimiento a Jeff Leerink? ¿Por qué? Dada su recomendación, ¿qué alternativas de diseño organizacional debería usar Leerink Swann? El éxito de Leerink Swann radicó en la diferenciación, y en la creación de una verdadera ventaja competitiva. En este sentido, adoptar una estrategia de crecimiento basada en la banca de inversión traicionaría este principio de diferenciación, que había ubicado a Leerink Swann en una posición privilegiada dentro del mercado. Tomar el camino de la banca de inversión para lograr un crecimiento podría ser viable sólo en el corto plazo, pues a la larga ello contribuiría aún más a la “comoditización” de la oferta, y a que fuera cada vez más complejo salir de la trampa de los precios bajos. Si bien el momento para pensar en crecer es bastante complejo, pues los competidores están manejando estrategias muy agresivas en cuanto a precios, es indiscutible la ventaja competitiva lograda porLeerink Swann gracias a su especialización y diferenciación. Esto constituye una gran barrera de entrada para cualquier competidor que pretenda ofrecer el mismo tipo y calidad de asesorías de inversión. Aun cuando el enfoque de las investigaciones llevadas a cabo en Leerink Swann era eminentemente sobre el campo de la salud, la compañía tiene muy claro “el cómo” en el proceso de hacer recomendaciones de inversión de una manera diferente. En este sentido, no sería descabellado pensar en realizar el mismo tipo de recomendaciones basadas en investigaciones a profundidad en un sector diferente al de la salud, especialmente en mercados emergentes. Recomendaríamos, entonces, hacer el mismo proceso, desde el principio, con otro sector, especializándose en él, reclutando colaboradores de gran experticia y experiencia en un campo específico, y transmitiendo la manera de hacer las cosas desde los expertos investigadores, hasta los analistas de inversión. En línea con esta recomendación, Leerink Swann debería adoptar un diseño organizacional basado en una estructura matricial, que combine la parte funcional con las divisiones organizacionales. Claramente, si se piense en enfocarse en mercados emergentes, ya podrían existir divisiones dentro de la compañía como, por ejemplo: división cuidado de la salud, división productos tecnológicos de comunicaciones. Así, el departamento de analistas funcionaría matricialmente tanto para una división como para otra, mientras los expertos investigadores trabajarían específicamente en cada división.…...

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