The 3 Commandments of Banking Communications
In the last years, the Financial World – Swiss Private Banking in particular – has had to face tremendous changes. Simultaneously, the rules of communication have been profoundly shaken up, leaving the actors of the industry with a tough challenge. Inaction and secrecy are no longer appropriate.
It is as clear as day that the banking world is battling a chronic image deficit. Many financial players have been too distant from digital (r)evolutions and as a result have not taken the necessary measures to respond correctly to the new communication challenges facing them.
– Arnaud Grobet, Managing Director of Emakina in Switzerland
Of all the changes that touch commercial and private banking as well as asset management in general, the one that is too often dramatically underestimated is communications. Everyone knows the banking community suffers from a real image problem. But the earthquake caused by what is conventionally called ‘the digital revolution’ goes well beyond this observation. In fact, the digital reality changes the whole nature of the problem and the ways to respond.
Three fundamental shock waves shake the financial world at its roots.
1 . Transparency: inspire, do not manipulate
The digital revolution is more than a simple communication matter. It is based on a basic element: transparency. This comes naturally to communication professionals but challenges logical thinking and behavior of brands, companies and even more so, the universe of finance and wealth management.
The paradigm is simple enough, but its assimilation and its translation into action requires a true mental revolution. This is especially the case in a segment where the culture of discretion and secrecy is logical and structurally embedded. But the world today is open and incredibly transparent: it tracks each secret and above all any form of manipulation of information.
As American author Simon Sinek explains in his clear and bright insights, there are only two ways to influence people: manipulate or inspire. And in the new hyperconnected world, manipulation no longer is an option, because inevitably one gets “caught” sooner or later.
Therefore, the only remaining road then is to inspire… interest, engage and create.
In other words, we need to share a real personality, content and density. For a brand, this challenge is fascinating, because it entails nothing less than reinventing the relationship it may have with its audience. Creating a unique link with unique brands.
2 . Continuous exchange : dialogue, do not impose
The result of transparency and the Web 2.0 is that we live in a world that connects in all directions, all the time and at full speed. A world that is constantly exchanging information. This has a significant impact on all communications; It is no longer about informing or persuading; true and rich exchanges and conversations are what matter.
Blind for the digital revolution, many brands continue to shout their message in the old 1.0. manner. They try to impose their message, without creating the necessary return path necessary to build a basis for dialogue. They should start by listening rather than producing one-way statements.
Yet they stubbornly push the repeat button over and over without any effort to adjust to the needs of their one-on-one audience. Too many brands today simply copy the same content on all the channels the web has to offer, on social networks or in applications. We do not discuss the same things in the same style on every forum or when adressing different contacts. So this means that on the web (as is the case elsewhere) you need to create separate spaces for specific communication forms.
Dialogue requires clarity. The Greek etymology of the word ‘Dialogue’ refers to the idea of “following a thought.” If you want to communicate in the 2.0 world, you must clearly reveal your personality and what you think. In this new world, casting a wide net and trying to please everyone is not a winning formula. It is better to be yourself and share with others your real world view. This way, communications can be a token of membership and of firm commitment, a strong link with clear brands.
3 . The explosion of communication: customize, do not standardize
Sometimes it is worth repeating the obvious: behind each user there is a person who can be reached in different contexts and situations, but remains the same individual, regardless of the channel. So it is absurd to talk about below – above – on- or offline. Today, communication is ‘no-line’, because it is everywhere and immensely cross-media connected.
The new paradigm is simple: “the return to the client.”
Today, with no-line communication as a rule, we no longer can afford to send everyone the same content in the same way. Each contact must provide the right information to the right person in the right context. In light of these developments, the fall of bank secrecy traces back to values on which historically the myth of the Swiss banks has been constructed. And that idea now proves to be very contemporary: personal relationships and taking into account the specificities of each client are vital.
In communications everything is important, words as well as images, but also the choice of the features of each brand. More than ever, every brand needs to build a communication environment that fits its identity and allows it to improve a personalized dialogue with customers and prospects. Lack of action and secrecy are simply no longer appropriate. This new reality opens great windows of opportunity for banks and asset management companies in general.
Clearly, the winners are those who will endorse and cultivate the triptych of transparency, dialogue and customization.
About the Author
Arnaud Grobet is Managing Partner of Emakina’s Suisse office. He’s been active in web projects since 1996 and founded LABEL.ch agency in 2000, since 2012 part of the Emakina family. He is married and father of two, loves to teach and learn and is fan of technology, sound and music, Apple Computer, Johnny Hallyday, Pop Art, TED and Lift conference and counts Brian Solis and Simon Sinek to his friends (and gurus). Arnaud was one of the key speakers at The Richmond Finance Summit. He shared his views there on Communication 2.0 as an additional challenge for the Banking industry.