In recent years, financial services firms across banking, wealth management, insurance, and other sub-sectors, have invested in technology to try to provide a higher level of customer support, and enhance their competitiveness – online portals, self-service machines, mobile apps, chatbots, robo-advisors, data analytics, artificial intelligence, Blockchain, cloud applications; the list goes on.

Whilst financial services firms understand that digital capabilities are critical to their competitiveness, and they're strategically investing in their future, most companies in the sector have neglected their main shop window to the world, and the one place potential new customers in today's world go to first - their website.

Many financial services firms have neglected their shop window to the world, and the one place potential new customers in today’s world go to first - their website.

Considering that studies investigating marketing effectiveness within the financial services sector over the past 18 years have shown that a focus on customer acquisition by means of brand marketing activity and investment drives the greatest growth, 1 this broad-scale investment in technology to help existing customers, to the detriment of investment in tools that will help land new customers, seems counter-intuitive.

Indeed, financial services executives expect their technology investment to help build their business, improve customer loyalty, create new revenue streams, and increase market share 2.

The financial services sector has embraced all the destructive marketing trends – short-termism, over-reliance on tactical sales campaigns, reduction in brand marketing investment, and a focus on loyalty marketing – meaning the sector is far behind its peers when it comes to getting marketing right 3.

Is the message from marketing teams not getting through to the top? Is it being ignored? Or are financial services marketing teams focusing on the wrong thing?

Whatever the reason, it’s time to put it right!

Read on for tips on how to build a business case to secure investment into your website - the tech, the tools, the people, and the results you need – a digital brand marketing platform designed for business growth that appeals to both existing customers and attracts new ones.

The financial services challenge

Financial services companies today face a myriad of challenges:

  • People living longer, with diverse financial requirements
  • An uncertain economic outlook
  • Competition from new business models and new players entering the market
  • Fast pace of business change, driven by 'digitisation'
  • Increasing regulatory requirements
  • Disengaged consumers and low levels of trust in the industry4

Digital customer infographic   

Investment in technology to resolve these challenges and keep existing customers happy is all well and good, and worthy endeavour to secure the future of the organisation long-term. But, if business growth has been proven to come from the addition of new customers, rather than keeping existing ones, then well-established financial services firms need to also invest in areas that can help them do just that.

Fintech firms are taking advantage of the growing consumer desire for a seamless, personalised digital experience, and investing in platforms that help entice and on-board customers from a young age, knowing that a transformative and memorable experience from the very start will pay dividends once these individuals are actual customers. 5.

In other industries, it is now normal practice to tailor a website visitor's experience based on an assumed understanding of why they're on your website, based on where they've come from, what they look at, and any past behaviour, to help convert them into a customer.

In today’s world, your brand and the experience you provide online is not just competing with other financial services brands, but all brands across all sectors.

The way forward for financial services firms seeking to improve share of wallet and profitability is to ensure they have a website that offers carefully crafted visual interactions and digital user experiences, that can help build confidence in the minds of a prospect and turn them into a customer.

But how do you convince senior management and your board that it’s necessary? Here’s five things we think will help.

1. Report past performance

The first thing you need to do is to gather evidence that a new website is necessary. Remember that other departments and other people don't see things the way you do. For them, your brand's website may look fine, and is delivering what they expect. But they don't know what's happening behind the scenes and beneath the surface.

Pull out all your historical analysis and all the data on website performance, and put it together in a way that's easy-to-understand and helps to tell a story.

Put things in perspective by comparing performance with competitors inside your industry, as well as brands outside, that you can get from case studies or news articles – after all, in today's world, you're competing with every single brand for a customer's eyeballs, not just those in financial services.

2. Show the opportunity

Now you need to show them the money. If you do x, you will get y. If you get a new website, then you can deliver twice the revenue, three times the leads, four times the margin, five times the market share. You get the idea.

Again, put the prize in context to your competition. Who has recently changed their website and seen an improvement in results? What did they do? What's different? Impress upon your board that you cannot afford to be left behind whilst your competitors strive forwards.

3. Name the price

So, you've shown the stats – what's not working and why, and what the amazingly positive results will be if you change things. Now you need to let people know how much this new website is going to cost.

Frame this against your organisation's business objectives and how a new website will fit in. Show how the upfront investment will be offset and recouped through additional revenue and by when – what you think the improvements will be in year one, year two, year three.

What else will be needed? Will you need more team members to deliver? Will you need them from the start or in two years' time? Will you need to train existing colleagues up? Are you going to need to invest in lots of digital content to keep your website fresh and engaging?

Be sure to include all these additional costs, whether upfront or ongoing, so that your return on investment calculations are accurate, and you're able to budget properly each year.

4. State the risks

Time to be honest and consider the implications of such a big investment, from a financial, operational, and service view. What impact, positive and negative, would a new website have on other areas?

This is also where you get to show people what happens if you don't go ahead!

What will happen to your objectives, your revenue, your margin, if you don't build a new website? Show these forecasts against your predictions for improvement that will come with a new website. Focus on the gaps. Let the numbers steer your argument.

5. Get written approval

You'll probably be presenting your business case to senior management or the board.

You might see nods of agreement and murmurs of approval around the room. The ultimate decision-maker might even say, yes, go ahead, budget approved. Fantastic!

Get approval. In writing.

Congratulations. Now the really hard work begins…

Find us at Figaro Digital Financial Services Spotlight

We're going to be at the Figaro Digital Financial Services Spotlight on 20 February, talking about three mistakes we think financial services firm make with their website, and we'd love you to join us there.

Often, the business case for a new website can sound better coming from a third party rather than someone inside an organisation who may be seen as too close to it all. We've helped numerous brands build their business case for a new website, helping them pull together the data and stats they require, getting heads together to accurately forecast performance improvements, and presenting everything to senior management.

If you think your financial services brand could do with a new website; one designed and built with your customers in mind, that personalises the journey for every one, then we can help.

Want to build your own business case? Just get in touch.

1."Effectiveness in Context - A Manual for Brand Building", Binet & Field, 2018.

2. "Financial services seizing value with technology", Accenture, 2019.

3. "Effectiveness in Context - A Manual for Brand Building", Binet & Field, 2018.

4. "Consumer trust in the financial services industry is currently 57%, Edelman Trust Barometer, 2019.

5. "Winning Clients in the Era of Hybrid Advice", FactSet Global Wealth Scorpio eBook, 2018.