Striking data’s sweet spot in financial services

by Apadmi|Tue Mar 22 2022

A man analysing data on a screen

Following a fascinating discussion during Apadmi’s webinar, here are five key considerations for data strategy in financial services from our panel of industry experts.

Using data effectively in any service business isn’t easy, but the regulatory constraints within financial services adds another layer of complexity. With insight from Aviva, M&G, Charles Stanley and Wealth Wizards, the suggested areas of focus make for interesting reading and are more straightforward than you might think.

It starts with strategy

A good place to start is the message which came through loud and clear: the importance of having the right data strategy.

“Data strategy has to be core to your client experience,” says John Porteous, managing director of Central Financial Services at Charles Stanley. “In terms of relationships with the regulator, as everyone would know, the vast majority of the problems we face are not actually poor advice, it’s poor data and poor record keeping. So I think that’s the bridge that we need to cross as a group to make our technology innovations and our next generation of propositions really compete with adjacent industries.” 

Demanding data

But in order to have a data strategy, first you need data. Financial services companies have this in spades, but they still have to collect it and get permission to use it. The advice here is don’t ask for too much too early and be really clear about why you’re asking.

“It’s really important not to over complicate things,” says Richard Caldicott, Deputy CEO of M&G Wealth Advice. “The key is to be able to gather some very soft data and give the client value back early in the journey, before you start asking more difficult questions.”

The value exchange is what helps to keep customers moving forward and an understanding of the benefits to both sides is reliant upon transparency.

“There’s an immediate understanding from the customer,” adds Tony Vail, co-founder and CSO at Wealth Wizards, “that if you’re not paying for the service, then you’re the product. You need to be clear on the value exchange and the transparency of that is really important.”

Don’t make it a journey for the customer

Customers demand a streamline process and while they are journeying from entry point to conversion, it shouldn’t feel like that. Keeping initial interactions as short as possible is the right place to start.

“We have a workplace advice product which provides holistic pensions advice,” continues Vail. “We on-board people as easily as we can with a 3 minute journey, and most people complete it. It’s anonymised and can’t be attributed and creates an immediate willingness to then move forward and share more information because they’ve been introduced in that easy and unobtrusive way."

“For me, where it gets to the heart of the matter is when you link trust to data.” John Porteous, managing director, Central Financial Services, Charles Stanley

Personalisation and personas

Creating personas for customers is not new, but given the personalisation which could be achieved with the level of data available, is creating a set of assumptions around key groups of people still useful?

"Data should be helping us to be more succinct,” says Michelle Calcutt, director of global client experience at Aviva Investors. “Although we’re in a B2B environment, we still use personas. It gives us a good idea about how our customers want to consume information, whether they want a three minute snapshot because they are a CIO, or whether they want to take a deeper view of the data because they’re an administrator in their organisation. We are seeing a difference in the way our clients want to engage."

While personas are clearly helpful in understanding and meeting different clients’ needs, the level of expectation is also high, which means there’s some work to do around painting as detailed a picture of potential customers as possible.

“What’s interesting with persona design is how that’s changing,” says Caldicott. “Previous design work we’d have done was based a lot on demographics and that involved making some quite big sweeping generalisations. I think that has become increasingly irrelevant and muddled over time. I think we have to get better about the way we build personas and how we get into the values of the client rather than just the demographics.”

And what about trust?

Data has become so important because of its power to help businesses personalise, reach and engage with customers, but it all comes to nothing without trust. Content, positioning and marketing money can create an amount of trust for a brand, but it comes down to whether customers trust you with their data. 

Porteous explains: “For me, where it gets to the heart of the matter is when you link trust to data. Through big data we can access so much information about everybody that it could transform the client experience in the snap of a finger. But the client would have to permission that.

“And that’s where the rubber hits the road on the trust question, because I would be staggered if all the businesses represented on this webinar didn’t have the wherewithal to create trust within their client proposition and client outcomes, but I think it’s really about creating trust around the data empowerment and mobilisation.”

Watch our on-demand webinar today with experts from Aviva Investors, M&G, Charles Stanley and Wealth Wizards.

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