Brand Purpose Communications Authenticity

Community building powers decade of change for finserv marketers

By Michael Nutley, Writer for The Drum

September 27, 2022 | 9 min read

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The pandemic has fueled a renewed desire for community. Here, we explore the top trends from LinkedIn’s The Finfluence Report to understand how financial services brands can tap into the power of community to create long-term advantage.

Community is key for successful financial services brands

Community is key for successful financial services brands

Changing consumer expectations, technological innovation, market disruption and new business models are propelling financial services brands into a decade of change that will redefine the industry for good.

This newly emerging environment is creating boundless opportunities for the financial services industry, while also reinforcing its position as an essential service for customers, communities and society as a whole. For marketing leaders in the sector, being primed to tackle further disruption while finding long-term advantage is key. Recognizing the power of communities in this latest phase of the journey will be essential to drive positive change.

That’s according to ‘The Finfluence Report’ from LinkedIn and The Future Laboratory, which outlines the top trends influencing financial services marketing today and highlights the importance of community connections in underpinning all of them.

“The perception of financial services brands has changed over the last 15 years,” says Terry Rand, head of vertical marketing, LinkedIn, EMEA and Latin America. “Financial services are the bedrock of our society and how it functions, they’re no longer seen as the bad guys. During Covid-19, they were seen as helping people through. And now they have a vital role helping people to be more financially literate in a society where people aren’t using cash anymore.”

Six trends shaping the future of FS marketing

The financial services (FS) industry is forecast to be worth £21.84tn in 2025, up from £17.24tn in 2021. But this will depend on how successful marketers in the sector are in taking advantage of the six trends identified in The Finfluence Report:

  1. Post-purpose brands – Already, more than half of consumers (52%, according to Accenture) are choosing brands whose values match their own. Brands don’t need to be perfect to build trust with these customers, but they do need to transparent and honest in their communications, and show they’re continually improving their business.

  2. The authenticity equation – The way for brands to build trust with consumers in a world overwhelmed by digital information is through more human, more interactive relationships. According to Max Pashman, financial planner and founder of Pashman Financial, and one of the ‘finfluencers’ who contributed to the report: “Platforms like LinkedIn enable people to have one- to-one interaction and build a rapport for CEOs, thought-leaders and industry experts. It humanizes interactions – and that’s both from a B2C and a B2B perspective.”

  3. The great reshuffle – One of the major impacts of the pandemic was to make people rethink how and why they work. Data from LinkedIn shows that work-life balance is now a top priority for almost two-thirds (63%) of professionals when seeking a new job, compared to compensation and benefits at 60%. Financial services brands have a huge opportunity in helping their customers make this balance work.

  4. Reformation generation – Generation Z has arrived as an economic force, and will only become more important in the coming years. Equally significant will be their emphasis on personal ethics as a driver of decisions. As Enara Nazarova, founder of Armoar, puts it: “The expectation from gen Z is that FS companies should be built in favor of their customers and their values, and this is what marketing should communicate.”

  5. Betterverse building – LinkedIn data shows engagement around the topic of the metaverse increased by a factor of more than 114 year-on-year from January 2021. In the words of finfluencer Teddy Pahagbia, founder of metaverse consultancy BLVCK PiXEL: “In the metaverse, FS brands can communicate previously intangible concepts – think values or vibes – by creating experiences that truly envelop and immerse customers into a branded universe.” A number of FS brands are already experimenting with metaverse technologies to discover what these new experiences might look like, and how they could be used for the betterment of individuals and society.

  6. Community connections – FS brands have already recognized that marketing is now a dialog rather than a broadcast; they’re embracing interactivity as the way to build communities of interest around their products and services. In the next decade, the report predicts financial services firms will “continue to empower existing communities, tap into new peer-to-peer networks, and provide places for socially connected customers to engage and grow with one another.” This growing emphasis on community implicitly underpins all the other five trends.

Community at the center

A greater sense of community is part of people’s desire for a more balanced life post-Covid, for example. Accenture found four in five of us feel more or as connected to our communities as we did pre-pandemic. Community also forms a key plank of generation Z’s view of the world; 40% have volunteered for charities or not-for-profits, according to Deloitte. And what’s the metaverse for if not improving connections between people?

Community also drives authenticity, with consumers often more trusting of “people like them” rather than brands themselves. Hence the growing role of ‘finfluencers’.

“Brands have to show that authentic voice, not just saying how great they are, but how they’re thinking about things post-purpose, how they’re trying to be authentic, how they’re trying to help their communities,” LinkedIn’s Rand explains. “It’s a balancing act between the three, because if you get one of them wrong, you could convey your brand in a way that doesn’t resonate, or do something that doesn’t fit with your ethics, and then you’ll be called out by gen Z, because they expect more from the brands they’re working with.”

The report highlights HSBC as a great example of a brand living up to its beliefs and responsibilities. In the UK, the banking giant is working with housing and homelessness charities to break the vicious circle that keeps people living on the streets. Normally you need a fixed home address before you can open a bank account; under this scheme the charity provides the address, HSBC provides the account, and the homeless person gets a way to keep and save their money, and to operate in an increasingly cashless world.

Marketing’s crucial role

The report doesn’t shy away from the challenges the financial services sector faces in the coming year, including climate change, increasing geopolitical instability, and rising inflation, alongside continuing technological advances.

We’ve reached a pivotal moment where financial services must recognize the power of communities to drive change. Marketing has a crucial role to play in navigating this transition and those brands who will benefit will harness new opportunities to create long-term advantage.

For more insights, download the full report from LinkedIn here.

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