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The heat is on financial services according to Pearlfinders' Global Index

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The heat is on financial services according to Pearlfinders' Global Index

Reducing spend on marketing and advertising is normally the first thing on the agenda for brands in times of global uncertainty. However, it’s not such a depressing outlook for financial services brands in 2017/18.

During unstable economic times, cue Brexit and the American presidential fall out, more and more people are worried about their finances. Financial services brands will therefore be seen to spend more on engaging customers to ensure loyalty.

If 2016 proved anything, it is that people are not as happy with the status quo as previously thought. Our world has shifted and with it, the rules for understanding and communicating with people have changed. Across industries, budgets are in flux and technology disrupts marketing strategies on a daily basis.

Brands are looking to adapt and thrive in this ever remodelling world economy – but where do they start? Pearlfinders has researched across markets, countries and sectors and have produced the global index; using interviews from over 10,000 senior marketers across Europe, Asia and the US.

While some predict negative consequences for new business in 2017, we feel this thinking is limited as it appears based solely on major incumbent reviews. While the number of these planned is indeed down, we see a change in rhetoric used by marketers towards long term agency partners. We anticipate a laser-sharp focus on campaign measurement in the first half of 2017, with more reviews to be announced.

That being said, with a sharper focus on financial services, it’s not all bad. Due to the murky waters of the global economy, financial services are investing more than normal in their advertising and marketing services. They need to position themselves as trusted and engaged partners to their consumers, and work harder than ever up against new competitors in the form of disruptor banks and the notion of the circular economy.

Planned marketing investment

From the research conducted (main image), it is clear that financial services will be increasing their planned marketing spend in 2017. This can only be a positive sign for marketing industries.

2017/18 will see an increase in future marketing investments for apparel, financial services and automotive industries.

The financial services industry will be investing more budget into varying marketing channels, using social, digital and PR experiences.

Efforts to drive profitability and fend off competition from disruptive fintechs are driving up PR and digital budgets in the financial servics sector globally. With 2017 set to be another essentially unpredictable year, agency new business teams should highlight their ability to help brands react and adapt quickly to new challenges and tactical opportunities.

Banking on humans: the B2B

With automation and the developments in AI, B2B need to pre-empt potential groundswells of negativity concerning the ‘rise of the machines’. Consequently, executive branding, where marketing teams throw budgets behind campaigns to showcase the skills of the firm’s top human talent ie HSBC is an area where brand consultancies and ad shops will find major opportunity in 2017. There will be a 50% increase in the number of financial services brands investing in employee comms.

It remains to be seen whether traditional high street banks and investment houses can reassure customers and maintain market share in this time of global uncertainly, or whether they’ll flock to disruptive fintech challengers. The answer’s probably a bit of both (at the time of writing, Lloyds’ profits are up, and HSBC’s are plummeting). What’s certain is that content marketers, PR gurus and UX specialists have an opportunity to work with finance brands of all sizes to help them garner a sense of trust, while ad shops and media planners will have to fight hard for their slice of the budget (grabbing the opportunities presented by reviews in the second half of the year).

This article originally appeared in The Drum Network supplement magazine on 8 March 2017.

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