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Life as a Marketer within Financial Services

Have you ever wondered what life as a marketer within the Financial Services industry is really like? What does it take to get into financial services marketing and to stay on top of the game?

In this context, we caught up with Yoma Smith, a professional with 20 years’ marketing experience, 15 of which have been in financial services organisations. If you are considering a career within the sector or are planning on adding an expert financial services marketer to your team – you can find some first-hand insight right here.

ADLIB: How did you get ‘into’ financial services marketing? What has been the career path that led you to it?

Yoma: Before marketing in the financial services sector I started out in a Public Relations role at what is now the Royal Voluntary Service, in London. I moved to Bristol in 1999 to join an events and video production agency where I worked on accounts for the NHS, Blockbuster, Orange Telecoms and Lloyds TSB. My work on the Lloyds TSB account led me onto an in-house position with the Business Banking team. Bristol has a high concentration of financial services companies – with main regional and even national head offices – and I have gone on to work across the sector in corporate banking, life insurance, financial advice, investments and investment platforms.

ADLIB: What do you like most about working in financial services?

Yoma: It’s a highly regulated sector, so a considerable amount of attention-to-detail and clarity is required. For instance, one of the main mantras is that information to consumers must be “fair, clear and not misleading”. This appeals to my abiding drive for simplicity and transparency; followed by the challenge of producing creative campaigns and collateral. To achieve these, I have formulated great working relationships with many compliance teams over the years!

ADLIB: What key piece of advice would you give to a marketer looking to break into the financial services industry?

Yoma: I recommend a keenness for a professional approach, in every sense of the word – from the consideration of an idea to the delivery of any message, material or channel. Plan considerably and execute cohesively. That doesn’t mean be boring and long-winded (Caveat: Terms and conditions may apply. Smiles) but if your intention is to market with a clear purpose, then being considered, organised and efficient should come before getting carried away with the latest trends.

ADLIB: What are 3 key things you consider when choosing an employer?

Yoma: Apart from practical details like location, product/service, size, viability and the remuneration, I consider the following things – on an equally relevant or compatible basis.

  1. Fit – I try to get a sense of how I might fit in the organisation. Is the structure multi-layered, siloed, or opaque? Or is there a clear structure in which I can apply my skills and thrive?
  2. Mission & Values – I am attracted to an organisation with an articulated mission, as that provides the clear basis for all that it does; and articulated values provide direction for employee engagement and consistent customer experiences.
  3. Culture – I look for evidence of an organisation’s values (beyond statements); I consider its tone of voice & personality; I look for charitable and community engagement; and at least a hint of a nurturing, collaborative, progressive and inclusive culture with sustainable practices. This may seem like a tall order but I’m not looking for an unrealistic utopia. Culture is continuous, so a clear structure with articulated mission and values can be a good indication of the culture an organisation aims to develop and maintain. And that’s a good starting point for me.

ADLIB: And finally, from your perspective, what are the top 3 skills it takes to succeed as a marketer within FS specifically?

Yoma: My recommendations are applicable to any sector, but I do think that a grounding in financial services provides highly transferable skills with which to excel in other less-regulated sectors. So, here goes:

  1. Be coherent. Be fair, clear and not misleading by finding the balance between comprehensive versus concise communications delivered along the continuum of the customer journey.
  2. Be consistent. Be consistently on-brand and on-message with consistent processes in place for approvals and implementation.
  3. Be cohesive. Apply an integrated approach across all communications and marketing channels, with clear calls-to-action and cohesive fulfilment structures for consistent customer experience.
    Three bonus tips… Be thorough & regular (not slapdash & random). Be curious & willing to learn. Be adaptable (plan but be flexible and consider new methods or goals).

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, Yoma!