November 10, 2014

Former Fed Chairman Bernanke: Timely Communications as his Legacy

Melissa Murphy
The Schwab IMPACT Conference is an annual gathering of advisors, fund companies and the media. This year’s event took place last week in Denver and it was not a disappointment.  In my view, the most compelling presentation came from Dr. Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humor and personality put forth by Dr. Bernanke.  The auditorium erupted in laughter at a number of things he said.  Economists are not exactly known to be captivating, but the audience was hanging on every word.
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Ben Bernanke

His leadership during the Great Recession has been well documented but I couldn’t help but appreciate the reminder of the changes he made from a communications and transparency perspective.  As a professional communicator, I advise my clients to consistently and regularly share their messages and perspectives on important financial topics with clients and potential clients. Historically, the Fed was very opaque and that may have served the organization well during placid times but with the rise of the internet and a 24 hour news cycle – with an overlay of a financial crisis – sharing information in a timely manner was important.

When asked about what he views as his enduring legacy, he said that his focus on increasing transparency at the Fed was key. Dr. Bernanke introduced a classic and enduring PR tactic: the press conference.  In addition, he participated in a media interview while acting Fed Chairman. You might also remember the 60 minutes interview.

If the Fed can make timely communications a priority, it seems that other financial services companies can follow suit.

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