Keeping our ‘Finger on the Pulse’ in the Financial Services Sector

Colin, Mustard’s MD, attended the MRS Financial Services Virtual Summit last week. Below is his take on the event.

It was great to see so many clients and agencies in the sector coming together to share details of their experiences and work through the pandemic.

There were five key themes that resonated with me from listening to all the sessions:

  1. More than ever as an industry we’ve needed to be flexible, responsive and agile – There has been a demand for real-time market intelligence to keep abreast with what is happening and deliver insight to inform decisions in an ever-changing market and environment.
  1. There has been an acceleration in the use of online for qualitative research – The switch to online was a necessity whilst face-to-face wasn’t an option. As we’ve seen over the years, participants are typically more open when sharing their views, as they feel more comfortable in their own environment, and develop a closer relationship with the moderators through more regular engagement. It’s likely that we’ll see further innovation in this space, and it will certainly be interesting to see to what extent clients stick with the online approach for qualitative research as things return to normal.
  1. We can’t ignore the digitally and financially excluded – Losing the ability to engage with consumers face-to-face has made it more difficult to target the financially disadvantaged and those unable to share their views and experiences via digital channels, either because they don’t have the access or knowledge to do so. More innovative approaches are required during these difficult times to ensure that their views are heard.
  1. The financial services sector still has a way to go to meet the needs of women and ethnic minority groups – The figures are compelling! It is evident that more needs to be done to get under the skin of this data and understand the differences in needs, attitudes and behaviour within these segments. Only with this perspective will brands in the industry be able to develop communications and propositions that will resonate and encourage wider take up amongst these key target audiences.
  1. From a financial perspective, COVID-19 seems to have created an increasingly divided society – Generally the more affluent tend not to have been too affected by the pandemic, and some have actually prospered. In contrast, the less affluent have been more likely to have faced significant issues which have impacted on their long-term financial health and well-being. Financial services brands must be sensitive to this and shape their offer accordingly to reflect the diverging needs of these different groups. Regular U&A monitoring is key, and there may be the need to refresh segmentation models, and to review and test new service propositions.

So, all in all a productive day all round. The Summit left me with much food for thought, but also reassurance that as an agency we are well placed to support our financial services clients moving forward. Yes, 2021 will present new challenges, but fingers crossed not as difficult as those we’ve had to face this year.