How to Build Trust and Humanize Your Financial Services Brand

5 Takeaways from Industry Leaders

July 1, 2015

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Given today’s uncertain economy and the rising tide of disruption, trust is more important than ever in the world of finance. But how do firms earn the trust of potential clients – and establish confidence in the minds of existing ones? At this year’s FinanceConnect, our guest speakers and panelists shared what their companies are doing to build brands that are authentic, trustworthy and more human. We’ve recapped these insights, as part of our inaugural FinanceConnect Thought-Leadership blog series.

  1. Activate the Millennial Mindset

“Millennials are a social-centric generation that turn to social media for decisions big and small,” shared Donna Sabino of Ipsos (LinkedIn’s research partner on a new Global Affluent Millennial study). “If you’re going to talk to Millennials – affluent Millennials in particular – truly listen to them because authenticity is key. More than half believe their social network will be the hub of all their financial information in the future.

To stay meaningful and relevant with younger audiences, Sabino recommends that firms build a positive social presence, champion a purposeful mission and provide educational content that is useful for Millennials as they manage their finances.

  1. Be transparent

As was brought up by BT Financial’s CMO, Mark Murray, one of the biggest challenges facing today’s finance industry is trust – particularly in the advisory network. To gain the confidence of customers, you must be transparent at every touch point of your business.

Murray shared BT Financial’s new initiative to place all of their advisors into the public domain, where they can be rated and reviewed by the public to promote a more effective, self-regulating community. “We’ve seen great success with this project. Our brand values about transparency and honesty – and putting our money where our mouth is – shine through in customer comments and feedback,” Murray said. While not all banks may be positioned to take this leap quite yet, they should consider new ways to make their prospects and existing clients more confident to do business with them.

  1. Elicit an emotional response

It’s no secret that today’s winning brands find powerful ways to connect with consumers emotionally, and finance decision makers are no different. As Monika Schulze, Global Head of Marketing for Zurich Insurance, stated, “If someone had told me five years ago that insurance was going in the ‘love’ direction, I would have said ‘no way.’ But it works – I now have proof – [and] we’ve turned the history of our industry around and positioned our brand to now say ‘if you truly love something, you have to protect it in the best possible way.’ This emotional connection makes it easier to win.”

When drafting your communications strategy and content calendar, make sure to infuse your messages with sentiments that ring true to target audiences. We loved another strong example from Theresa McLaughlin, CMO Canadian Banking, Auto and Wealth, TD Bank, who discussed the firm’s holiday season “thanking” ATM machines as a successful way for the firm to up-level its relationships with clients.

  1. Strengthen bonds and broaden engagement

“We are focused on telling stories about the change that capital can enable,” said Mandell Crawley, CMO of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley launched a global advertising campaign revolving around the value Morgan Stanley creates for its clients via transactions and the value that those clients then bring to society and their communities. This campaign, called “Capital Creates Change,” positions the company in a more people-oriented and positive way.

Morgan Stanley has also embedded an “insights engine” within the desktop of each financial advisor. This engine feeds client-specific recommendations to advisors – based on each client’s portfolio and transactions – that they can share with clients. In this way, the company’s advisors can provide better relevant advice, helping them develop a trusting bond with clients.

  1. Bring your leaders to life

LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a fantastic way for executives to share meaningful insights and stories about their business experiences and personal perspectives. For example, BlackRock’s Larry Fink has garnered a successful following based off his sage commentary on the economy. And at FinanceConnect, during our Chief Influencers’ Roundtable, both Gerald Hassell, CEO of Bank of New York Mellon, and John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management put a face to their Influencer name and touched upon issues such as disruption, innovation, and utilizing social within their firms. A particularly memorable sound-byte came from John Thiel, as he remarked:

Well as it turns out I am a human being and I have feelings and points of view. And it turns out that me, being me, is more popular than me being the Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. And that is what I am trying to do, because I live my values every day in what I do.

We encourage key leaders at your firm to speak up and share their thoughts because executive posting can help make brands feel more accessible and approachable. And remember, posts can be powerfully amplified through company pages and individual networks!

For more on how these and other financial services firms are building trust and humanizing their brands, check out these resources:

And be sure to download the Sophisticated Finance Marketer’s Guide for more best practices on how finance marketers can build trust on social media.