Article

Michael Nutley
Michael Nutley 22 February 2022

More Personalised, More Responsive, More Joined-Up – the Priorities for Financial Services Marketing in 2022

As the UK takes off its masks and steps tentatively into the post-pandemic era, financial services marketers are focusing on more personalisation, greater responsiveness to customer needs, and joined-up omnichannel communications as their priorities for the coming year.

All these steps are crucial to developing digital maturity in the sector, according to a new report by London Research, in association with Movable Ink, the leading content personalisation software powering some of the largest global brands.

The report, Financial Services Marketing Trends and Priorities 2022, includes a maturity model that breaks down the stages of progress across the three key areas; organisation, technology and data:

Organisation

The first step is for the business to recognise it needs to put the customer at the centre of everything it does. This should be followed by the adoption of a new approach to metrics, where departments decide their own targets in response to the overall business goals set by the executive team.

The ultimate goal is to replace traditional silos with task-specific, multi-disciplinary teams working within a non-hierarchical structure.

Technology

Thinking needs to move beyond the automation and digitisation of existing processes. The crucial partnership to be built is between the CMO and CIO, so they can work together to integrate all the company’s systems.

At the next stage, companies move to self-serve front-end systems, while beginning to replace waterfall developments with an agile approach. Maturity is marked by the use of AI-driven prescriptive analysis to identify the message most likely to meet customers’ in-the-moment needs, helping to improve satisfaction and accelerate the journey to purchase.

Data

The journey to data maturity is the thread that joins organisational and technological change. It starts with identifying all the data resources within the company, while reviewing the way all data is collected, stored and used, to ensure legal compliance.

The next step is to bring all this disparate data together in a data management platform, and use it to create a universally accessible 360-degree view of the customer; a single source of truth on which to base business decisions.

Interviewed for the report, Chris Worle, former Chief Digital Officer at private investment company Hargreaves Lansdown, summed up the challenge:

“A key priority for us is the continued transformation and digitisation of the experience and the processes. How do we eradicate many of those manual processes that still exist within the business? How do we make things slicker and easier for clients? How do we shift towards that true self-service model? We dub this the thrive-at-scale challenge; as we continue to grow, how do we position the business to deal with that scale?”

The Underlying Recruitment Challenge

The report also found that recruiting people with the right skills is a continuing barrier to achieving digital maturity. The biggest gaps are in development, with skilled people choosing to either freelance, or to work for agencies rather than going client-side.

Agency/freelance work is seen as more varied and challenging. Agencies are also regarded as a better environment in which to keep existing skills up-to-date or to learn new ones, while freelancing offers the promise of greater flexibility and autonomy.
 
The growing use of agile development methodologies is helping with some of these issues, since the project-based multi-disciplinary approach improves the transfer of knowledge and skills, as well as giving people more variety in their work.

But, as Neil Costello, UK Marketing Director at debt collection and management company Lowells, explains in the report, working agile brings its own challenges.

“Getting strong development talent to work client-side is really difficult. We’ve struggled to find really high-calibre developers who can work agile at pace. So, we’ve partnered with a local agency called AND Digital, and we have a squad that is part-Lowell, part-AND Digital, and that squad reports into me as well. That’s how we’ve broken down some of those historical silos.”

Standing Still Means Falling Behind

The journey to digital maturity in the financial services space is long, and most of those interviewed for the report acknowledge that they are still in the early stages. But two other important things emerged from the research.

The first is that there is value to be unlocked at each stage of the journey, not just when you reach digital maturity. The second is that customer needs and demands have changed dramatically in the past two years.

Use of digital channels increased dramatically during lockdown, while home working also became the norm. In turn, digital transformation moved on dramatically.

All this means your customers want a mature digital experience, your employees need one, and your competitors are already developing one. Standing still is no longer a viable option.

The full Financial Services Marketing Trends and Priorities 2022 report is available for download.

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