Financial companies need to create an experience for clients where they’re at the centre of every decision, a survey by Econsultancy has found. In order to achieve this, they’re going digital.
The findings can be seen as a response to research that we released showing that establishing trust with leads and clients was the top marketing priority for financial services.
Faced with being the least trusted industry, financial companies are using digital tools to create a customer experience with the sole aim of delivering value. According to respondents, providing a top customer experience using digital channels is the “single best opportunity” to deliver on these priorities for 2015. The majority - 45% - said that this will lead to a personalised and relevant client experience.
(Source: "Digital Transformation in Financial Services: Challenges and Opportunities", Econsultancy)
Content has an important part to play in creating this customer experience. Clients need to be reassured that financial companies are acting in their best interests. High-quality informative content is, by its nature, value-driven. It places the interests and the needs of the client first by empowering them, rather than simply talking about how great you are.
This will take different forms. For financial advisers, it could be a detailed explanation of how to invest, providing a rationale so they can understand the decisions you’re going to make with their investments. For FinTech providers, it could be a monthly round-up of the latest research that will impact investor strategies.
Whatever form it takes, quality content can create a personalised, relevant and valuable client experience. So, here are three actions that financial companies can take to benefit from the digital transformation, with examples of best practice.
It’s inevitable that your clients will have questions, particularly with something as sensitive as personal or institutional finances. In order to offer a personal and relevant client experience, it has to respond to any concerns and reservations they may have.
Listening and responding to leads and clients is the key here, and there might be lots of ways that you can get this information. It could be from informal conversations you have, e-mail exchanges or from tracking social media.
For example, IRESS collected frequent questions they were asked about their platform on their national roadshow. They took these and created a video as a response. It was used as a sales tool, as a piece for their existing customers and for those that were unable to attend the events.
It’s also another communication channel to reach leads and clients to complement traditional methods such as phone calls, meetings, events and e-mails. One conclusion from the Econsultancy report was that companies needed to use more agile ways of working. This video is a good example of this agility in action.
Clients look for different things at different stages of their journey. Before you start putting together a marketing strategy, find out how they buy your services. What’s the thought process?
For bigger financial companies, this is one of the challenges of the digital transformation. The report says that companies recognise that they need to get a better insight into their customers and behaviours across channels and devices. Legacy systems and siloed data were cited as the biggest barriers to this understanding.
For smaller, more flexible organisations, this represents an opportunity to take on the bigger financial institutions. With a greater understanding of where new clients are coming from and how they decide on their financial provider - whether that’s as an accountant, financial adviser or FinTech company - you can respond by giving them the information they need at the moments that they need it.
Pete Matthew, the mastermind behind MeaningfulMoney.tv, is a financial planner based in Cornwall. He recognised that there was a shortage of information about personal finance and so started posting regular video blogs and podcasts. Each session offers hints and tips about finance basics such as budgeting, pensions and tax year-end planning. Within 18 months, online enquiries from MeaningfulMoney overtook client referrals as the number one source of new clients for his firm, Jacksons Wealth.
One reason for Pete’s success is that he realised people went online to learn about how they could better manage their money. By giving people practical advice, he earned the trust that led to them becoming clients of Jackson Wealth.
This content doesn’t stop being useful here either. Once they become clients, they’re still going to access the content to learn more, leading to an enhanced customer service that few financial institutions can compete with.
A clear understanding of how a lead makes a purchase decision through digital channels (along with a personal touch in the content, which always helps) has led to strong returns for Pete and his financial firm.
Following on from this point, it's not just about having the content, it's also about the quality. A report from Accenture about digital intelligence in financial services suggests that those institutions that offer timely, relevant and personalised online experiences have been shown to boost sales, reduce costs and increase trust and loyalty. Content has an important role to play in this process.
It’s true that producing content can be difficult and time-consuming, particularly when there’s a business to run. Content creators have to find efficient ways of working in order to provide valuable updates when time is short. The answer is curation.
Smart bloggers and thought leaders recognise this. On his blog The Reformed Broker, US Financial Advisor Joshua Brown regularly posts “Hot Links” based on what he’s reading that day. It’s a useful list of articles covering the global stock markets, which is a good resource for any investor staying informed about current affairs.
Another good example is Abnormal Returns. It’s a simple formula where blogger Tadas Viskanta selects news, analysis, podcasts and market research and groups them by topic into regular posts. Here’s a June edition with research links on the profitability perspective. It’s well-respected, with Tadas’ peers hailing him as “hands down the best curator out there when it comes to… the most relevant financial blogs posts of the day”.
It’s worth noting that these are balanced with original content. This is curation after all, not duplication. That path only leads to annoyed readers and penalties from search engines.
But content curation can be extremely effective at giving your clients the information they want and need. Create a resource full of content that reinforces the values of your organisation. Use tools such as Feedly and Nuzzel to discover new content. These incremental steps will contribute to a positive client experience and form a bedrock of trust. Empower your clients, and they will thank you for it.
Read more about the “Digital Transformation in the Financial Services Sector” report.