While 2022 promises to herald the new dawn of post pandemic living, for financial services marketing and communications leaders, navigating the year ahead will require ongoing resilience and determination.
Research from Financial Narrative, found that while budgets and investment in new technologies are set to increase for these leaders, they are facing continued challenges with talent acquisition and retention, and business strategy shifts which they report are impacting mental wellbeing.
Led by board members Terry Rand (Financial Services Marketing Lead, EMEA & LATAM, LinkedIn), Lara Bealing (Marketing Director, Canada Life UK), and Elspeth Rothwell (UK CEO, Vested), Financial Narrative hosted a conversation among UK members thinking about the year ahead. As this was a closed door session, we can share here a summary of some of the key themes of the conversation, next time please sign up to join us!
This past year has been an opportunity for leaders to really lean into important leadership qualities – “empathetic, compassionate listening…And not only from the top down, but going both ways,” one attendee said.
Lara Bealing, Canada Life UK shared “more than ever, the pandemic has us thinking about psychological safety for our teams.” Working from home/hybrid working has taken away the water cooler conversations, and getting the emotional side of what others are saying, since it is being communicated through a screen, is critical.
The group talked about creating a sense of community and keeping up morale with their teams, looking for new ideas and ways of coming together. Successes that moved hybrid working beyond online quizzes included themed days with a common purpose, set ‘in person’ team time in the office, dedicated to come together, and being really thoughtful about when face-to -face matters: “What would take four days via zoom can sometimes be resolved in four hours in person.“, it is about being thoughtful about the environment and the interaction.
CHANGE FOR GOOD
Many participants noted an increase in the focus on purpose. According to the 2021 Financial Markers’ Index, the long term importance of ESG messaging and communicating about company social impact initiatives rose from 63% to 71%, also pointing towards the trend to increase purpose-driven communications.
Purpose is important but one participant noted that the key for them is operationalising purpose – which looks like shared values. “If you know what your values are, at the core of every decision it rises to the top every time.”
The focus on purpose driven communications is both for individuals and brands. With this shift, one participant noted that HR and culture have “almost become a marketing role” and it’s important to dig for more of that internal and brand purpose perspective. Lara Bealing, Canada Life UK agreed, sharing that as marketers, we should aim to be “Brand LED not brandED.”
THE GREAT RE-EVALUATION
“The Great Resignation” has been a trending term, but Terry Rand, LinkedIn, explained he liked the term “Great Re-Evaluation” – a lot of employees are asking what do I want out of a job? What is important to me? Is it working remotely, hybrid, or having more time for my family/relationships? “If their employers aren’t able to adjust/accommodate, that’s where they’ll lose out on talent,” said Rand.
A few of the gathered marcomm leaders mentioned they felt they couldn’t compete for talent against “sexier” industries or match the benefits and pay that some of those industries offer. An interesting solution Lara Bealing, Canada Life UK has been exploring, in addition to hiring, is seeing where else she can source talent – through her network or outsourcing to agencies.
It was noted that in 2020 we all entered the pandemic at the same pace, but now we are all at different stages and depending on our business and what is impacting us, change is not as linear. We will likely see this as we continue to emerge in the post-pandemic world, as changes will continue to happen at different speeds.
Terry Rand, LinkedIn, highlighted the pandemic has adjusted content expectations drastically. Whereas before something filmed on zoom might have been seen as unacceptable, it’s become the norm. Now we are seeing major savings on production as well as the ability to be more agile in content creation.
A creative, win-win solution that worked for one participant’s team was when the pandemic first hit, they worked to transition their events team into content production. Determined to save roles, this leader invested in retraining the team including himself in video production – capitalising on the emerging trends and resulting in their most successful campaigns.
To learn more about the topics discussed as well as what trends and predictions are forecasted for the new year, check out the 2021 Financial Marketers’ Index.