6 big challenges facing UK finance marketers

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Be prepared, don't panic
By Susan Burchill, staffer. 28 November, 2019
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As 2020 approaches, we’re staring down the barrel of tech upheavals and banking disruption from all directions, on top of dramatic political shifts. We identify six key challenges that will keep UK finance marketers busy in the coming months - and probably years… best be prepared.

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Challenges facing UK finance marketers

1. Trust

It was a huge issue after the global financial crisis and still is. A survey by YouGov in August 2018 revealed that 66% of the British public don’t trust banks to operate in the interests of society as a whole, and 72% believe banks should have faced more severe penalties. In fact one of the reasons the UK is the most disrupted traditional banking market in the world is the erosion of trust in bigger banks.

Yet established banks still see trust as a competitive advantage based on their history in the market and large customer base, as opposed to challengers, who in some cases struggle to get people to trust them to keep their money safe.

It doesn’t pay for UK finance marketers to rely on the brand's size and time in market. Big tech players like Amazon, Apple and even some Chinese platforms don’t have that longevity, yet they’ve built considerable trust equity with consumers. When they (inevitably) move further into UK banking, there will be an even greater need to put trustworthiness at the top of every bank’s content marketing agenda.

2. Branches disappearing

UK bank branches are closing at a rapid rate, driven by increased use of online and mobile banking apps. According to UK consultancy Caci, mobile banking is set to become more popular than visiting bank branches by 2021.

UK finance marketers will have less opportunity to market to people face-to-face. And the branches that remain will need an update to give the best customer experience - everything from the way the brand is presented, the interior fitouts, furniture and exterior branding, in a manner that is consistent with marketing across all your channels.

3. Brexit

Brexit will have a huge impact on the shape of financial services. Day-to-day, political uncertainty means content marketing budgets are under threat; even when 2020 brings more clarity and more budget, there’s a major education piece for UK finance marketers to prepare for, to reassure customers and maintain their loyalty.

There’s a major education piece for UK finance marketers to prepare for, to reassure customers and maintain their loyalty.

Wholesale banking businesses will potentially need to inform customers about onboarding to the new EY entity, as well as changes in their relationships with the bank, the loss of passporting rights and the risks arising from conducting activity without authorisations.

In retail banking, changes in interest rates, foreign exchange rates and the strength of the UK’s economic growth could affect job security, property prices, mortgage interest rates and more, which is then compounded by the potential impact of consumer sentiment on the market. Content can add great value for customers here if you approach it in a truly customer-centric way.

4. AI full steam ahead

Do you have your head around AI research and how best to use the latest iterations? Are your bots best of breed? Forbes explains why AI entities are missing the mark by nagging people with reminders when they veer off track with their spending.

Instead, bots will need to give genuinely useful financial wellness advice, e.g., if you’re unnecessarily paying more for utilities than your neighbour or if your mortgage payments are too high compared to the average. Providing useful information is one of the tenets of content marketing after all.

5. Big data

The UK data economy could be worth £95 billion in 2025 from £73 billion in 2016. But it won’t be enough just to collect data. Knowing the right questions to ask and the key desired outcomes is the way to win in the big-data extraction race.

UK finance marketers need a content marketing strategy that helps guide what data you gather, which tools to use in analysis, the insights you want to draw from it and how you’ll distribute the insights. An informed strategy can reap invaluable insights into customer engagement, retention and loyalty, and marketing optimisation.

6. Data security and privacy

With more and more data comes greater risks around the security of people’s information. Cyber-risk was cited as the biggest threat to finance behind Brexit and ’UK political risks’ in the Bank of England’s latest Systemic Risk Survey. Machine learning and AI are expected to become widespread in financial services and these increase those hazards.

How you use customers’ data will become even more critical, as will the responsible and legal use of algorithms. Marketers need to be part of the privacy conversation. As this Forbes article points out, ethical and transparent use of consumer data can build trust (and brand). “Since marketers gather and use most of the data pulled by businesses today, it’s essential that they begin to take a leading role in crafting privacy policy—whether they like it or not.” It’s not solely the IS department’s job anymore.

We specialise in financial services content marketing in the UK, Australia and the US. If you need help preparing for the content challenges that lay ahead, get in touch.

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When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.