Addressing the need for creative transformation: Survey suggests financial services are failing to embrace creativity

6 November 2014

Frustrations revealed as one in four marketing professionals in the financial services sector do not believe they work in a creative industry

  • Over three quarters of respondents said that their company’s attitudes to new creative content strategies had not changed in the last three years
  • Nearly a third of marketers believe that a lack of support from the boardroom is the main barrier to their effectiveness as a creative professional

Financial services organisations are not embracing the creative change required to meet the needs of an increasingly digital and device driven marketplace, according to insight gathered by global digital agency, Dog.  A survey, conducted by 72Point, interviewed 200 marketing, advertising, PR and specialist digital creatives within the UK financial services sector. It revealed that only 1% of respondents thought the financial services industry saw creative content as very important to their business bottom line; suggesting that financial services firms do not value creative communications strategies as a requirement for commercial success.

David Cowan, managing director of The Financial Services Forum, commented: “This research is welcome and illuminating. While the industry has advanced significantly, financial services organisations are still not fully engaging with creative marketing strategies at group board level. This has created a disconnection of creative strategy and brand communication as an integrated business principal at a time when the digital landscape is redefining our industry. The challenge, backed up by Dog’s research, is for marketers to prove business impact and for CEOs to be more open to what creative solutions can do for their companies.”

Data gathered by Dog illustrates the challenges faced by the majority of financial services communications professionals in gaining top level buy in for strategies that harness the full potential of digital channels and more creative marketing methods. A scant 2% of respondents said that they had an excellent level of boardroom engagement when proposing and delivering new creative content strategies, with only 9% stating that their company had a forward thinking attitude towards the creative process.

As financial services organisations get to grips with the digital transformation of business, marketing and brand communications, the survey alludes to the widespread persistence of a ‘silo mentality’ and a lack of alignment of strategies. Over half of survey respondents viewed poor integration with other areas of the business as the biggest barrier to their effectiveness as a creative professional, while only 8% consider marketing and communications functions in their organisations to be well integrated and connected.

Dog has a strong heritage of working with financial service clients to deliver creative solutions that support evolving business, marketing and digital communications objectives. Working with a range of financial services organisations – from retail audience banking to institutional investor focused asset management firms - has provided Dog with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities marketers and creative professionals are presented with.

Gerry McCusker, Managing Director of Dog commented: “The survey makes for extremely interesting reading, laying bare some of the major issues affecting the financial services sector. With opportunities to engage target audiences with multichannel creative content growing at pace, it’s a shame that the majority of respondents do not believe that the financial services is a creative industry, and only 7% believe that their creative skills are being fully valued and utilised. Coupled with the documented lack of strategic collaboration across the business, this is definitely holding back an industry that has the potential to be truly creative and must leave marketers feeling frustrated.

“Creative marketing strategies - when aligned with the overarching business strategies - enable financial services organisations to connect with target audiences in meaningful ways to achieve defined business goals. In today’s digitally led world, every marketing strategy should be creative, and all marketing activity should support wider business strategies. While a number of organisations are successfully marketing products and brands in creative ways, it is certainly not the norm within the industry. The potential is huge, yet the financial services industry is lagging behind other sectors.”

The results from Dog’s survey reveal a disconnection between strategising and activation of content strategies. Three in four FS creative professionals have either a plan in place to deliver new and innovative content but not executed it, or discussed but not committed to delivering a defined strategy. 

“We’ve reached a very exciting moment in financial services marketing. Conversations are taking place, opportunities are being identified, and it is up to marketers to harness creativity, and use every tool and channel at their disposal to implement compelling marketing strategies that deliver tangible results. Similar to the digital transformation, it will take time for board rooms to fully engage with the creative transformation needed to engage target audiences, but with sustained innovation and measurable business impact, we’ll get there.” McCusker added.

With brand messaging becoming an increasingly important asset to financial services organisations, Dog is hosting an industry discussion later this month with selected industry peers and commentators. David Cowan will be chairing a debate that aims to discuss creativity and creative strategies, and explore the concept of creative transformation in enabling financial services to secure sustainable growth in a challenging marketplace. Following the discussion, Dog plans to produce a downloadable whitepaper designed to help marketers achieve creative results and ensure their creative content marketing strategies are fully integrated with business strategy.

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