Why the Financial Services Industry needs to “Think Digital” to Change Brand Perception

 -branding crisis financial services

Perusing through the financial services news this morning, I came across an interesting article from Dan Schawbel hosted on Quartz. In the article, Dan discussed how the financial services industry is still trying to shake off it’s tarnished reputation that has grown thanks to the 2008 financial crisis, and billion dollar bailouts. Wells Fargo only recently settled a $110 million lawsuit after customers claimed the bank opened fake accounts without their success.

Nine years after the American financial crisis, according to Dan, almost two-thirds of employees within the sector are still impacted by it and the negative image it ignited. Another study by Makovsky found that 86% of financial executives say that the crisis has had a major effect on the perception of the industry.

Answering Consumer Demand

Consumers are demanding greater transparency, not just from the financial services industry. Healthcare and government are also working to answer this growing customer need.

Digital technology is helping industries to do just that.

Companies can leverage digital communication tools to control their own brand story.

These tools also offer the opportunity to monitor trends, helping your company to stay ahead of changing customer needs.

With digital applications, companies can offer consumers a new, simple way to efficiently check their financial health. This empowers the consumer to take ownership by offering transparency to their data.

In a recent interview with Lisa Shalett, Former Partner and Head of Brand Marketing & Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, we asked her for her advice when it comes to how digital technology can aid brand image.

The digital world has opened a lot of doors to marketers and brand specialists. You navigated Goldman Sachs through a challenging time for its brand. How did you navigate these stormy waters? What advice do you have for brands looking to strengthen their public image?

“Plenty of brands go through crises. One thing that was very interesting in Goldman’s case is that the financial crisis and Goldman’s corresponding brand challenge happened to coincide with the rise of digital and social channels, enabling new ways to communicate, and a democratization of access to the narrative. I think the most important lesson Goldman learned was that if you don’t tell your story, others will tell it for you.

All brands have to be careful – it is easy for brands to lose a lot of control of their narrative. The good news is that even though all these channels of communication exist, these same channels now enable a brand to share information directly with audiences, rather than have to go through a journalist or other intermediary. The content we are now seeing brands create is often excellent, and those are stories that weren’t so easily told in the old world of the print news cycle.

Another important lesson brands can learn from Goldman’s case is to think more broadly about stakeholders. At the time of the crisis, Goldman was most focused on its clients, regulators, its employees and other stakeholders that seemed directly relevant. The crisis made it clear that the public was also a stakeholder, even though Goldman, unlike its peers, didn’t have retail-like consumer facing businesses at the time. As a result, there was a need to speak to this new audience, especially given its lack of touchpoints with Goldman’s businesses, and ensure greater transparency, understanding, and relevance for this audience regarding the work that Goldman does.

In a digital world, it is also important for brands to monitor the conversations taking place about them – to be aware of them, and to find ways they are comfortable participating in and contributing to them. Being on the front foot is always better than the alternative. The smartest brands will anticipate crises and prepare a playbook to use if they happen. These days a brand crisis can be caused by a single tweet. Creating cross-functional teams that embrace the need for collaboration and can learn together, and assess risk and make decisions together, is a major asset.”

“Crisis creates opportunity, and within the firm, there was a tremendous desire to learn, to communicate broadly and thoughtfully, and be innovative in embracing digital channels — and that approach continues to this day.”

According to Dan and his research, despite a tarnished industry reputation, there’s still a chance of great recovery with nearly three-fourths of employees believing the industry can recover strongly.


FSI Transformation AssemblyThe Millennium Alliance is pleased to announce that application for their biannual FSI Transformation Assembly taking place September 14-15, 2017 at Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, FL is now open.

Following on from the success of our February edition with Keynote speaker –Lisa Shalett, Former Partner and Head of Brand Marketing & Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, the FSI Transformation Assembly will bring together North America’s major financial services and insurance organizations.

While financial services and insurance CIOs will have to deal with many challenges in the coming year as the industry makes the final leap into digital transformation. C-level IT leaders need to understand the convergence of mobile, social, and cloud to stay ahead of the competition. One technological challenge remains prominent in the mind of CIOs everywhere – dealing with the complexity of data. This is something challenging all digital transformative industries.

With digital enhancement comes a massive explosion in data, which is creating unprecedented manageability issues for firms around the world that can be linked to the following factors: expanding customer touch points, emerging types of structured and unstructured data, new customer engagement and social media platforms, rising data security, and controlling the overall data volume.

This is not just another “Financial Services” event. Spaces are reserved for the best in the business. Enquire about attendance here!


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