Financial Services

Content Strategy: Harnessing the Benefits for Financial Services

In today’s uncertain world, the value of providing clients with insightful commentary and market intelligence cannot be overestimated. As such, more financial services firms than ever are seeking to harness the benefits of content marketing – using content to help with everything from building brand awareness and increasing web traffic to improving lead generation and customer retention.

There’s much to be gained by positioning your firm as a thought leader – but doing so is not always straightforward. Financial services firms must overcome the challenges experienced by all companies undertaking content marketing, while also facing certain sector-specific hurdles.

In particular, they have to tackle the following issues:

  1. Creating compelling content. As in other sectors, engaging experienced content experts, achieving a consistent tone of voice and overcoming budget constraints are crucial when it comes to developing content.
  2. Navigating different channels and formats. In addition to traditional formats such as articles, thought leadership, white papers and research reports, firms are also using videos, blogs, infographics, social media content and webinars to distribute their content. Making strategic decisions about which formats to focus on – and repurposing the same content for different channels – is essential when it comes to making content stand out in an increasingly crowded space.
  3. Overcoming compliance hurdles. Financial services firms also have their own sector-specific challenges to overcome – not least of all the difficulties associated with regulatory compliance. It can be tempting to be overly cautious in such a regulated climate, but a clear understanding of the relevant constraints can enable firms to produce insightful material with confidence.
  4. Measuring value. Firms may struggle to measure the value and effectiveness of the content they produce. Many metrics are available, including conversion rates, website traffic, customer feedback and sales – but firms often lack confidence when it comes to tracking ROI.

Financial services firms may face challenges where content is concerned – but by adopting a clear content strategy, firms can overcome the challenges and create compelling and effective content. We will explore these topics in more detail in future articles.

3 Ways Financial Institutions are Closing the Gaps in Customer Satisfaction

Banks have fallen behind when it comes to innovative customer engagement, and it’s easy to see why. Hampered by legacy systems with poor user experience that have proven difficult to integrate, and with financial tech startups offering more a convenient UX coupled with customer service rivaling and even exceeding that of traditional banks in terms of quality, the time has come for customer-facing banks to modernize their collective approach to online and in-person engagement. Here’s how some institutions are making that happen:

 

  • While the appeal of online banking continues to expand, with 49% of all millennials using online banking for routine transactions, companies like Trailhead Credit Union are also aware of the impact the consumer experience at their physical locations is crucial to connecting with their audience. Having “transformed its look and messaging to connect with the urbanite spirit of Portland”, they’ve seen record-breaking growth in their customer engagement thanks to its commitment to appealing to their consumers.

 

  • By analyzing their consumer base and re-evaluating their content strategies, respected firms like Liberty Mutual and Santander Bank are providing targeted, curated content with the intent of educating certain demographics on relevant services that are available to them. For example, Santander recently focused on its millennial demographic, and aimed to connect with potential customers who may be closing in on a point in their lives when they need a loan. By providing them with a wealth of valuable information and drawing traffic into their core banking site, they were able to attract new customers, gain their trust, and gain further insights about their audience.

 

  • Innovation is impossible to achieve without experimentation, which is why America First Credit Union opened their innovation center in Salt Lake City. Designed from the ground up to be an interactive experience for customers, it also functions as a space to provide live demonstrations of new technology to the public, who can provide instant feedback and help expedite the development process with their input.

 

Ultimately the need for a personalized, targeted approach to delivering outstanding customer experiences continues to serve as a driving force for experimentation in the field of consumer-facing financial services, which a growing tribe of innovative firms capitalizing on the trend and proving that no matter how convenient your service may be, a certain human touch is necessary for facilitating the personal connection between you and your audience that sets you apart from the competition.

 

For more in-depth info on engaging with your audiences, click here.

For tips on improving your own digital content strategy click here.

4 Consumer Banks With Cutting-Edge Customer Service

Consumer banks must innovate and modernize not just their digital but also their  in-person customer service and user experience (UX). Hampered by legacy systems and facing competition from digital banks and fintech startups, they must adapt or face declining client satisfaction — and ultimately dwindling clients.

Here’s how some institutions are taking UX and customer service to the next level:

  • While the appeal of online banking continues to expand with 49% of all millennials using online banking for routine transactions, companies like Trailhead Credit Union are also aware of the impact the customer experience at their physical locations is crucial to connecting with their audience. Having “transformed its look and messaging to connect with the urbanite spirit of Portland”, they’ve seen record-breaking growth in their customer engagement thanks to their commitment to appealing to their consumers.
  • By analyzing their consumer base and re-evaluating their content strategies, respected firms like Liberty Mutual and Santander Bank are providing innovative, targeted, curated content with the intent of educating certain demographics on relevant services that are available to them. For example, Santander recently focused on its millennial demographic, and aimed to connect with potential customers who may be closing in on a point in their lives when they need a loan. By providing them with a wealth of valuable information and drawing traffic into their core banking site, they were able to attract new customers, gain their trust, and gain further insights about their audience.
  • Innovation is impossible to achieve without experimentation, which is why America First Credit Union opened their innovation center in Salt Lake City. Designed from the ground up to be an interactive experience for customers, it also functions as a space to provide live demonstrations of new technology to the public, who can instantly disclose valuable feedback that could prove vital in determining which technologies to pursue and iterate upon moving forwards.

Balancing digital convenience with human connection is the driving mindset behind these projects, all of which share a common focus on improving the banking experience by appealing to human sensibility, which has over time proven itself an effective tactic for retaining stickier client-bases at brick-and-mortar locations.

As much as we love the convenience of e-banking, we equally adore being treated well by other people in our day-to-day lives, and digital competition is fierce, in some markets it makes sense to double-down on the creature comforts that only a physical location can offer, as well as innovating and investing in cutting-edge technologies and content to remain competitive in the market of convenience.

For more info on engaging with your audiences, click here.

For tips on improving your own digital content strategy, connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Content Development

Blog: Improving Financial Literacy From the Ground Up

As many as 90% of business failures around the world are due to poor financial management. Not marketing or labour problems, but simple, old-fashioned bad management. So how do we resolve this problem? We go back to basics and concentrate on financial literacy from an early age.

 

Too many individuals, young and old, simply do not have a basic understanding of things like budgets, inflation and interest rates. Although it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to possess sophisticated financial knowledge, some financial know-how is essential for making important life decisions related to money.

 

Building personal financial capabilities early in life can give people the foundation for financial well being in the future. Schools are an important channel to improve financial literacy. Studies in the U.S. have shown that financial education, when done properly, leads to an improvement in financial behaviour.

 

But there is still a long way to go. According to a survey of 13 million U.S. high school students, only one in six received mandatory financial education. And only 17 states require personal financial content to be included in educational curricula.  

 

Of course, people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success, but many have never had the opportunity to learn how. For instance, a significant number of American adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test with three questions on stocks, interest rates and inflation.

Here’s a sample question:

 

Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

 

  • More than $102

  • Exactly $102

  • Less than $102

 

Although 43% earned scores of three, meaning they correctly answered all the questions, and another 36% received scores of two, 21% got only one or zero questions right. Across all households, the average score was 2.2. Considering that the questions are relatively simple, those scores demonstrate why financial literacy needs to be prioritized by governing bodies, individuals and organizations throughout the world. (The correct answer in the sample question, by the way, is more than $102.)

 

In Canada, the Ontario Working Group on Financial Literacy concluded that students need to be financially literate to make more-informed choices in a complex and fast-changing financial world. Financial literacy education provides a critical set of lifelong skills, the report added. To that end, the group recommended that teachers be given professional training and resources to increase their knowledge of financial literacy topics that can be passed on to students. In addition, the report suggests that parents and families be invited to participate in the development of their children’s financial literacy education.

 

Financial literacy can be a hard sell for educators, who may not see the importance of adding it to the curriculum. But it is an important skill to help set young people up for success throughout their lives.

Value Added Services

Seeds of Change: Women Entrepreneurs and the Wellness Sector

Women entrepreneurs are drawn to the wellness and healthy living sector. As consumers of every generation increasingly focus on health and wellness, female entrepreneurs and business leaders will be big beneficiaries.

Women-Owned Businesses Soar

Each day, women launch around 850 new businesses in the U.S., and the number of firms headed by women has increased by more than 40% since 2007. Women are now the majority owners of an estimated 11.6 million businesses in the country—39% of all U.S. businesses — according to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Healthy Growth in Wellness Sector

The growth in women-owned companies is marching in unison with another major trend — the rapid expansion of the healthy living sector. According to data from the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 10.6% worldwide between 2013 and 2015 and accounts for revenue of $3.72 trillion on a global basis. It is now a key part of the second-largest sector of women-owned businesses in the U.S., following services such as nail and hair salons and pet services.

See the full article of CI executive director Denise Bedell’s latest work for ThisIsCapitalism.com:

Seeds of Change: How Women Owners Are Driving Business Growth in the Wellness Sector

The Cyber Tent, a step into the future of programming and cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Since the launch of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones (SFCPD) in late 2017, tech nerds in the Kingdom have felt that they have a place to exercise their expertise. The SFCPD has since created the perfect atmosphere for those interested in technology to unleash their ability and to benefit the public and private sectors in this field.

In its strategy to spread the awareness of the federation and its goals, the SFCPD has started its Cyber Tent in King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah to provide entertaining and beneficial lectures and activities. The free-of-charge Cyber Tent has recorded a large number of male and female participants from mixed backgrounds to attend the lectures.

Saud Bawazeer, an expert programmer and entrepreneur who is one of the lecturers on the second day of the event, told Arab News: “The creation of SFCPD and this forum is amazing for us as a technology community. Cybersecurity is not only about organization protection, it protects individuals by spreading knowledge to be exercised in daily tech-related activities. The Cyber Tent, a step into the future of programming and cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia

thumbnail courtesy of arabnews.com

VIDEO: Why Competitive Strategy Is Critical to Success for Mid-Size Companies

Time spent on competitive strategy is a key indicator of success for mid-sized companies.

Value Added Services

Socially Responsible Investing Gets a Boost from BlackRock ETF

Asset management giant BlackRock has partnered with market data provider Thomson Reuters to launch a new exchange-traded fund tracking companies that promote diversity and inclusion — enhancing its focus on socially responsible investing.

The ‘iShares Thomson Reuters Inclusion & Diversity UCITS ETF‘ will track Thomson Reuters’ Diversity & Inclusion Index, which ranks around 2,000 companies globally and includes the 100 most-diverse company worldwide, as measured by a set of 24 metrics.

The increasing availability of corporate sustainability data, as well as advancement in technology, has made it possible to better measure and understand metrics, such as inclusion and diversity, from an investment perspective,” explains Brian Deese, Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock. “At BlackRock, we are committed to being leaders in using new data and tools that deliver sustainable investment solutions at scale, which help to improve financial outcomes for our clients and accelerate the adoption of sustainable business practices globally.”

 

4 Reasons Why Competitive Strategy Is Critical to Success

Time spent on competitive strategy is a key indicator of success for mid-sized companies, according a recent survey by SunTrust Bank.

“Virtually all businesses (98%) participating in a recent survey are guided by a competitive strategy,” according to SunTrust. The amount of time spent on competitive strategy increases with business size, but overall, the survey found that less than half of respondents reports spending a significant amount of time on competitive strategy.

Other findings from the survey:

–“Several industries stood out as doing a significant amount of competitive strategy work, including technology hardware and software, retailing and automotive.”

–“Quality is a core priority for approximately two-thirds of businesses; innovation and focus/targeting a niche are other common components of businesses’s competitive strategies.”

–“Companies earning $25 million or more each year in revenue are most often focused on superior products and services (55%).”

–“Businesses have fulfilled their competitive strategy by developing deep customer relationships and creating superior products and services.”

According to the survey, “midsize businesses doing a significant amount of competitive strategy work feel stronger in the market and are better connected to their financial partners,” and a whopping 98% believe they have a strategic advantage over the competition as a result.

GDPR and US Cybersecurity Policy

US businesses that have customers or clients in Europe are scrambling to comply as GDPR is now in effect. There are some concerns that the US private sector will have to look out for the policy here at home.With every major data breach, people become more outraged which will likely prompt policy action. The EU GDPR marks a turning point in the policymaking arena due to one fundamental premise. Under the GDPR individuals have the right to privacy and to control what happens to their data. IDG Contributor Network: The impact of GDPR on US cybersecurity policy

thumbnail courtesy of csoonline.com