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July 1, 2013

Wrestling With the Future

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

—Albert Einstein

At MSCI, we have begun to think seriously about the future. A trade association, like any business, can’t afford to be satisfied with what worked yesterday, or even what works today. We are certainly proud of the gains we made last year and that continue today. It is a gratifying performance, from scholarship increases to successful membership enrichment and education programs. We are doing well by many measures.

But, as they say in the investment banking business, “past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.” 

We have never been more mindful of that. There are simply too many massive forces—megatrends, if you will—that will inevitably alter and illuminate the way we do business. Many of those we already recognize as powerful forces today: 

  • The paralysis of government on the one hand, and the growth of regulation on the other. 
  • The shifting sands of globalization, and demographics that are changing employment.
  • The everyday health care and education demands on the country and its businesses. 
  • Industry consolidation, and the stunning expansion of technology in our lives and workplaces. 

Tomorrow there will be other trends equally as important and game-changing, each calling for a critical response.

Our response now is a process whereby we rigorously question where we are going and how we will get there. What will MSCI look like in 2020, 2025 and 2030? Why will we exist then? What new and critical jobs do we need to be taking on to grow stronger and prosper in a new, more uncertain business environment? 

I hesitate to call this strategic planning, because we have all heard so much about that for so long that it has become a cliché. But whatever we name it, we are now dedicated to continuously remaking our organization, to function more alertly internally and to be of far greater service to all of you. 

We are doing this with the conviction that it is a process we must enter into if we are to intelligently cope with the inevitable changes that are both rushing at us and lurking just around the corner. 

We are starting from the premise that, like any enterprise, we must earn your business every day. We are hoping this reassessment and re-visioning becomes a collaborative process, not only of identifying and understanding the forces that are changing our lives, but also of developing responses together that will help us handle them intelligently. 

We know we have access to resources and information that no single member company has, and that we have the ability to aggregate and slice and dice that information in what we hope will be especially useful ways. One of our primary goals is to find new ways to partner with you to identify challenges and solve problems together. Another of our goals is to leave the organization far better than when we began in as many ways as possible.

We are tremendously excited, and at the same time somewhat humbled by the work ahead. The process of reinvention is neither obvious nor easy, but it is exhilarating and essential. We intend to be standing taller and stronger, alongside you, in the decades to come. And this, as Dr. Einstein reminds us, cannot happen without thinking in entirely new ways.