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How FinServ Can Get On Board with Financial Education

August 12th, 2019 Andrew Warren-Payne

Research has shown that consumers are most likely to turn to their primary financial institution (55%) when seeking financial literacy resources, ahead of online sources (45%) or their family and friends (39%). The payoff is certainly not negligible: a financial education program would prompt nearly a fifth (18%) of consumers to bring more business to their financial provider.

Millennials are one of the most important segments to consider when developing a content program. They are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve their financial health and prefer using digital channels to access content, usually turning to comparison and advice websites. Over half (55%) of millennials said that a financial education program offered by their financial provider would be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ valuable (compared to an average of 38% across all consumers surveyed).

Santander’s Prosper and Thrive content hub, which was set up to deliver regular financial content to this key demographic, is an example of a successful content initiative. Designed to resemble a media outlet, the hub features practical content prospects can relate to and helps the bank move away from a heavy focus on product promotions.

C. Decker Marquis, Santander’s SVP and Director of Digital, Social Media and Multichannel Marketing, explained the rationale behind its financial education offering:

“We wanted to talk to people earlier in their decision-making process, and wanted our content to be found when they had lifestyle questions.” She added: “You wouldn’t necessarily think about coming to a bank for the types of stories we feature, but we want our audience to feel like we understand them and their goals.”

How to Financial Services Can Connect with Content

Despite these success stories, there’s evidence that content creation is one of the areas that’s downplayed in the industry. In many cases, content marketing is perfunctory at best. In 2018, FSI companies were less inclined than their peers in other sectors to cite ‘creating compelling content for digital experiences’ as their most exciting opportunity (7% vs. 15%). They were also less likely to prioritize content marketing, content management and creation of video content.

Deploying a mix of content types is the best way to reach audiences, whether you operate in the B2C or B2B space. Almost four in five (78%) treasury and finance professionals consider webinars to be useful or very useful, only slightly behind conferences and white papers/research reports, and sharing the third spot with infographics and interactive tools.

Finance organizations need to be careful not to fall into the quantity over quality trap though. Three in five (59%) executives working for asset management companies claim that too much content is being produced in the industry and the vast majority (94%) agree that content in financial services needs to be more targeted.

Compliance, Legal Aren’t the Hurdles Financial Ed Thinks It Is

While this indicates there’s a lot more work to be done, it also suggests that restrictions imposed by legal and regulatory teams don’t slow down content initiatives that much and content can move quite quickly through the long approval workflows. Compliance teams increasingly sit in marketing departments and are involved early, at the planning stages, to enable swift content production.

In order to stand out in a world overloaded with information and be seen as a trusted partner, finance organizations need to frame the messages they want to convey with the help of their content program in a way that resonates with their audiences. It’s also worth looking beyond close competitors to get a glimpse into how other sectors are serving the same audiences.

Content in the finance industry is used both to inspire and help assess options, and it’s worth remembering that consumer and business audiences have slightly different needs. Consumers crave transparency and timely advice, are eager to understand the impact of their financial choices and don’t want to miss out on good financial opportunities, and content can dramatically influence their perceptions. Finance professionals prefer well-researched, data-driven content and look for impartiality, specialist insight and practical guidance.

Discover how professionals in the financial services industry can provide a better digital experience with ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report: Financial Services Trends.