The Forum Buzz: ‘can you afford to be marketing now? can you afford not to be?’

David Cowan

Managing Director

The Financial Services Forum

Last week we asked: ‘Can you afford to be marketing now? Can you afford not to be?’ And you said…

‘Philip Kotler, considered to be the “Father of Marketing”, defines the discipline as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. … Marketing is meeting the needs and wants of a consumer.”

By extension, therefore, to ask the questions: “Can you afford to be marketing? Can you afford not to be?” would strike at the very essence of a company’s existence, its raison d’être.  The question may well be rephrased to say: “Are you meeting the needs and wants of your consumers?”

Organisations unable to foster and maintain a client-centric culture simply cannot and will not survive in the long run. Competition by its very nature guarantees survival only for the fittest in the market – namely those that put their clients front and centre of everything they do.

Understanding the current Covid-19 crisis presents unforeseen challenges, businesses nevertheless who have and are rightly affording their marketing will come through even in this most difficult period.’
Submitted by Maria vonWrede


Financial services companies have a bad rep. But are we still being defined by the outliers?

I’ve spent the past two days judging the Forum’s Awards for Product and Service Innovation. Despite the format of the judging being a little different this year, it was once again, an enlightening and uplifting experience. I feel privileged to have been provided with an insight into some of the inner workings of companies, many of whom are doing some ground-breaking things in financial services that will undoubtedly positively impact the lives of their customers.

This got me thinking about the financial services industry on a more macro level. It feels as if, over the past 5 years in particular, there has been a sea-change within our industry from simply ‘providing and managing financial products’ to building products and services that anticipate customer needs and help them to achieve their goals. And, on a more profound level, their hopes and dreams.

Even for the most hard-nosed and finance-savvy saver, a pension or ISA is not just the sum of its monetary parts. It represents a peaceful retirement with regular holidays. Or a wedding, holiday or driving lessons. Consumers might not always feel emotive about our brands (until we do something wrong, of course) but money, and the ability to pay, is irrevocably ingrained in our everyday lives and futures. Particularly in challenging times, such as the ones we are experiencing now.

We will never offload the skeletons in our closet. But, nor should we feel either that our future as an industry who (I believe) wants to do better for the customer and be better as organisations, will always be characterised by our past either. To define anything by a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ binary label is an assumption that, to some degree, disregards the outliers who want to try harder. And I believe that in our industry, it’s the ‘bad guys’ who are the anomaly, but by whom sadly we sometimes still continue to be defined by.

We can’t wave a magic wand and change perceptions of our industry. But – we can continue to do good things for consumers and support each other by not letting our side down again. A stocks and shares ISA may not be as instantly ‘feel-good’ as eco-friendly trainers, but it does have the ability to change the life of it’s owner in ways that not many other purchasable products can. And that is something we should all be proud of.


Five Things We’ve Learnt This Week 

1. AIG Life have launched a new prescription delivery service for their customers, helping them to receive their prescription medicine direct to their home and giving them a much-needed peace of mind, particularly in this current climate.


2. Barclays Chief Executive, Jes Staley, was quoted saying that having many workers in one office may be a ‘thing of the past’, a nod towards how large corporate businesses might change post-pandemic


3. Nationwide are launching a new campaign titled ‘Voices’, a series of videos sharing real-life stories of how people are coping during the pandemic, and what they would say to their future-selves in 6-months’ time.


4. Whilst most of our viewers during Tuesday’s Crisis Communications webinar poll reported that their companies plan to hold post-crisis briefings, some reported that they did not!


5. A team of fintech and start-up companies have joined together to create a proof of concept app Covid Credit, which aims ‘to help self-employed workers ‘demonstrate loss of income from Covid-19 to HMRC’.

They are currently waiting for the ‘green light’ from the UK Government to go live, but we are sure that should it be accepted, this will be a much-welcomed innovation for a very hard-hit community


Finally, have a restful weekend (hoping that the weather may brighten a little!) and I will look forward to hopefully seeing some of you log onto a webinar soon.


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