Money Talks: Maximising the human interest in financial services brands

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Maximising the human interest in financial services brands

In an old British pub, where our best conversations are had, brand and storytelling agency Rooster Punk held an insight event ‘Money Talks’, focusing on how we can humanise financial brands, and it’s importance in speaking to their consumers.

Partnering with challenger finance brands such as Profile Pensions, Metro Bank, Funding Circle, Squirrel, Just, RightIndem, and Bankable, as well as industry giants Aviva, The Co-operative Bank and Virgin Money, Rooster Punk collated the thoughts and opinions of those looking to disrupt the financial market, to drive purpose and prosperity back into the financial industry for the British public.

The relationship between brands and consumers is broken in the finance arena; and to fix it, much needs to change. Paul Cash, managing director of Rooster Punk kicked off proceedings in the pub, by stating that “banks need to right their wrongs and make people better off instead of taking advantage of them commercially.”

To do so, brands must become more human to connect with their consumer to gain their loyalty and trust. It’s not enough to merely exist and provide a service. Consumers desire brands that are driven by purpose, champion their employees, care about issues in society, have a great story to tell and, who actually listen to their customers.

Chairing the panel made up by industry disruptors (Paul Riseborough, chief commercial officer of Metro Bank, Simon Vella, chief marketing officer of Profile Pensions, Jenny Burns, director of brand and customer experience at Just, Emanuel Andjelic, chairman of Squirrel, and Paul Cash of Rooster Punk) Ian Sanders, former journalist for the Financial Times kicked off the discussion by asking what it meant for their respective brands to be human.

“I believe in two things,” states Vella of Profile Pensions, “I believe in truly listening to what customers are saying. Every night I spend 45 minutes listening to recorded customer calls to try and understand the way customers are speaking to us and what they are expecting of us. Secondly I believe that brand values must become brand behaviour and that is what we must practice.”

Emanuel Andjelic, chairman of the start-up Squirrel, agrees and talks about how he implements a customer service rota within his team. “Everyone takes a rota of customer service, via webchat or the phonelines. Our rules of customer engagement are ‘be yourself’, as that is what it means to be human. There are no scripted answers, people speak to people.”

As well as this, Andjelic firmly believes that: “Leadership teams need to understand the brand. What are we doing and what purpose do we have? The commercial benefits of humanising your brand is that it invests in the people.”

Paul Riseborough of Metro Bank - which was built on the premise that all other banks at the time were “terrible” – agrees, and discussed how Metro recruit senior employees within the business: “You need people with the right mindset. We look for people that don’t necessarily come from banking backgrounds, but they share the same vision. As soon as they are recruited, they go through a cultural induction where they will start to understand the DNA of the business; that we are serving customers and not selling to them.”

From the panel discussion, it was made clear that above all, financial brands must have a brand sense of duty. Financial services brands must have a social purpose. Jenny Burns of Just, a brand who partners with people who are retired to help them manage healthy incomes and pensions, enthused the morals of the brand and how financial services should not just be seen as profit makers but do-gooders. 1 in 3 of Just customers suffer from mental health problems, whether that be loneliness or depression, therefore Burns is a chair on a mental health charity. The sense of social purpose and the need to give back must come from the top and trickle through the company right down to its roots.

Paul Cash sums up with a quote from Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…” I guess we shall watch this space.

Rooster Punk is a brand storytelling agency based in London, working with clients such as Samsung, Currency Cloud, Funding Circle and Colt. They have recently published their recent research delving into humanising the finance industry. You can download it here.

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Naomi Taylor

Naomi Taylor is membership manager at The Drum Network, covering members' news, insights and publications.

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