Finance Series

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Taking Stock: How to effectively communicate Brexit and new regulations to employees

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Taking Stock: Five important content marketing lessons from Fintech

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Taking Stock: Five valuable ways finance firms can recruit the best talent

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Taking Stock: How the finance industry can reduce the risk of cyber threats

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The finance industry is facing a rapid period of change as the result of disruptive tech, regulatory changes and the economic landscape. But how will this impact the ways financial institutions function internally? What can companies do to manage their brand and reputation? And what will this mean for employee engagement and recruitment in the future? Our new series Taking Stock will explore these questions and offer solutions ­–  starting with how to communicate the uncertainties around Brexit.

We are, as a country, going through a period of transition. We are treading new ground, and facing a relatively uncertain future economically. It should be no surprise that this is, in part, due to the historic Brexit referendum outcome. The result, announced in May 2016, threw up more questions than it answered, and even now – almost two years later – much remains unresolved. 

However, despite much still being up in the air, organisations in the finance sector must ensure they are prepared for potential disruption, and need to be fully aware of how best to communicate changes with employees. Being open, honest and transparent when it comes to any decisions that could result in significant upheaval is essential.  

However, as well as the Brexit fallout, organisations need also be aware of regulatory changes that must be communicated to employees. Failure to do so could not only put businesses at a competitive disadvantage, but could lead to them being hit with weighty fines.  

There is often a thin line separating an acceptable action from an unacceptable one, and internal communications are vital to making sure all members of staff know how to stay on the right side of the law, what challenges they may face going forward, and how they can tackle upcoming hurdles. 

Tyrannosaurus Brex

Unpredictable, hazardous and liable to cause havoc if not adequately monitored: you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m describing the ancient creatures depicted so wonderfully in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster. But I’m actually talking about something far more contemporary: the UK’s divorce from the EU. 

Brexit is liable to result in any number of changes for financial institutions located or based in the UK, and no two organisations will face the exact same challenges. However, something that all financial companies must ensure they do is keep on top of how they may be impacted, and subsequently inform employees about what changes mean for them individually. 

When it comes to messaging on matters such as this, clarity is key. Something on the scale of Brexit, which is not truly comparable to any other incident in modern history, is complex and somewhat puzzling, so engaging employees, and letting them know what approaches and tactics their employer is adopting, can put them at ease. 

An internal communications campaign, structured around a solid content strategy, is a fantastic way of showing employees that they are valued. By keeping staff regularly updated, giving additional insight with regard to the change, and allowing them to ask questions or discuss progress, they will understand that the organisation has their best interests at heart. 

Keeping on top of regulatory change

Regardless of what the regulatory changes entails – whether it be the need to adopt new ways of storing sensitive data, or to introduce a more robust sign-off procedure – ensuring all employees are aware not only of the new ways of working, but of the potential consequences associated with failing to adhere to them, is vital.  

Let’s take GDPR as an example. GDPR – an acronym for the impending General Data Protection Regulation – is an EU law that will regulate the use and treatment of an individual’s personal data. This is a very big deal. And, despite the fact that Brexit is happening, GDPR is going to come into effect in the UK in May 2018.  

Even if you’re confident that you and your business are clued up on data protection, it’s worth being aware of what could happen should you fall foul of GDPR. Any company found guilty of employing poor data protection practices will not only be breaking the law, but could face a hefty €20 million fine, or four per cent of a company’s annual turnover. Put simply, GDPR is not something that any finance firm can afford to take lightly.  

With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that all company employees understand what they are allowed to do with data, what they are not allowed to do with it, and why it is imperative they comply with the rules.  

And then there’s things like MiFID II, which came into effect in January 2018, and has been designed to offer greater protection for investors, as well as inject more transparency into all asset classes. Major changes like this will only be fully effective if all employees are made aware of the situation, understand its impact, and know how – if at all – they must alter their working practices. 

A well thought out and carefully structured internal communications campaign can not only educate, but could potentially save companies millions in terms of avoided fines. Planning ahead, understanding who needs to be reached, and finding the most appropriate ways of disseminating information, will ensure the right messages, reach the right people, at the right time. 

Internal communications

Hitting the right note, or knowing exactly how to communicate serious dispatches to employees or stakeholders, isn’t easy. That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve worked with numerous clients – from Shell to NatWestGovernment agencies to technology giants – to deliver intricate internal communications campaigns, and we can assist you. 

For more tips on communicating with your employees, download our free guide ‘How to take your employees on a successful change journey‘.
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The finance industry is facing a rapid period of change as the result of disruptive tech, regulatory changes and the economic landscape. But how will this impact the ways financial institutions function internally? What can companies do to manage their brand and reputation? And what will this mean for employee engagement and recruitment in the future? Our new series Taking Stock will explore these questions and offer solutions ­– ­and this week, we’ll look at what we can learn about content marketing from Fintech companies.

Fintech – a portmanteau of financial technology – has become the buzzword for innovation in recent years, but it’s not just how these startups are disrupting the mainstream finance industry that’s successfully setting them apart. Many have adopted the principles of content marketing to reach new consumers, meet their needs and fundamentally, win their trust ­– a major coup for an industry that’s considered to be one of the least trusted sectors. So, here are five things traditional finance firms can learn from fintechs to boost their content marketing efforts and get ahead of the game.

1. Be transparent

Accenture’s 2016 UK Financial Services Customer Survey found that, while banks had made small gains in trust between 2014 and 2015, levels had declined overall, particularly towards insurance companies, IFAs and insurance brokers. For the finance industry to restore its reputation among consumers, firms and companies must be willing to engage with social media tools ­– and take the opportunity to produce content aimed at igniting two-way conversations. For example, in February, cryptocurrency platform Ripple organised an ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit with its Chief Cryptographer David Schwartz. It generated over 500 comments, and after the event, Schwartz encouraged follow-up questions on his personal Twitter account.

2. Show you’re human

Berlin-based N26 boldly describes itself as a #nobullshit bank, and has built its brand on trying to be relatable to its customers, as well as acknowledging issues within society. For this year’s International Women’s Day, the mobile-only bank produced a series of videos with its female leaders based around this year’s theme #PressforProgress. Hosted on a content page on the website, the videos not only showed a human side to the company, but they also used a creative approach to highlight wider efforts towards diversity and inclusion.

3. Be educational

For all the hype around fintech, many companies have some way to go in helping the mainstream understand the significance of their products and services, and the impact these might have in the future. One company that’s doing a great job in educating its customers is Oscar, a tech-focused health insurance firm based in New York. The ‘Oscar Rx’ blog is a resource hub that offers advice, stories and expert insights related to all things healthcare. Topics cover include health and wellness, Insurance 101, employee tips, and the business itself. The articles are also freely available in a monthly newsletter for subscribers.

Similarly, Southerly was approached by NatWest bank to launch a dedicated hub for small business news and advice, to ensure SMEs could learn everything they need to know about running a new business. The content was a combination of videos, interviews, case studies and in-depth articles, and was a value-add for its customers.

4. Make the most of video

According the wyzowl’s The State of Video Marketing 2018 survey, 78% of marketers say video gives them a good ROI . By 2021, Cisco predicts that we can expect to see video accounting for 82% of all internet traffic, and that’s why it’s rapidly becoming a vital form of content for anyone with digital or tech-based businesses. It’s no wonder, then, that fintechs are leading by example. Funding Circle UK, a direct lending platform, is just one company that’s been proactive in its use of video. Its six-year-old YouTube channel is frequently updated and includes a combination of customer case studies, explainer videos, and TV adverts. But you don’t need big budgets to create video content; live video streaming is also making serious strides as companies have discovered its ability to drive engagement.

5. Finally, focus on the customer, rather than your services

To show its devotion to its customers, mobile-only Atom Bank created a personalisation feature on its app. It allows customers to create their own logo and colour palette, simply to show how much it values the uniqueness of its customers. With content, any opportunity to put your customer in the frame goes some way to demonstrating how much they matter, and that you’re willing to put them – and their investment – first.

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The finance industry is facing a rapid period of change as the result of disruptive tech, regulatory changes and the economic landscape. But how will this impact the ways financial institutions function internally? What can companies do to manage their brand and reputation? And what will this mean for employee engagement and recruitment in the future? Our new series explores these questions and offer solutions ­– and in this post, we will look at how recruitment marketing can help firms find top talent.

Filling roles is a tough job for any organisation – and if you’re a recruiter in the financial industry nowadays, it can seem next to impossible. Stringent regulations, a shrinking graduate talent pool and the uncertainty of Brexit are just a few factors that make it tricky to hire great candidates. Then, of course, there’s the question of how to use recruitment to drive the ongoing matter of improving diversity and inclusivity – an issue that RBS and Lloyds Banking Group recently addressed when they announced their commitment to setting ethnic diversity targets to fill senior management roles.

Still, when it comes to achieving a successful recruitment drive at all levels, there’s plenty of room for improvement. That’s why many organisations have opted to strengthen their recruitment campaigns with content marketing ­– an approach that ‘focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience’ according to the Content Marketing Institute.  So, here are five ways to use creative content to ensure you get the right people for the job.

1. Tell great stories with video

It’s not enough to create a generic job spec, pop it up on a job board and hope for the best. Compelling stories about the organisation offers an insight into a company’s values and culture.  Plus, videos are a strong, shareable format that, in the best cases, can go viral. But if you are going to create a video, it has to the clever, authentic and believable – unlike this awkward recruitment video from the Department of Finance in Australia. If in doubt, keep it simple (and less staged)!

2. Launch a social media campaign

In 2013, MasterCard Canada launched a competition on social media to recruit talent for their internship programme. University students had to apply by submitting an idea using the hashtag #internswanted, and they were judged according to the number of likes and retweets they received. The campaign attracted over 500 qualified candidates and they hired an additional intern as a result. Social media continues to prove to be a valuable communication tool – and using assets such as illustrated images, videos or gifs for this type of campaign can drive engagement.

3. Profile your current employees

Candidates want to understand what it’s like to work in your company – so who better placed to share this than your employees? We helped Shell do this by profiling employees to not only attract more female applicants, but mark International Women’s Day. The colleagues shared how the company helped them to flourish personally and professionally ­– and this was presented as photo stories on the Shell website. The stories are also evergreen, so they continue to be relevant every year.

4. Offer resources

The process to recruit talent is as much about showcasing why a company is a worthy employer as it is about finding new employees – so providing application resources can help you stand out. Case in point? Morgan Stanley ­– the financial services firm offers a creative range of interactive infographics, articles, and downloadable guides to help students and graduates get through the process of applying for entry-level roles.

5. Develop a useful and engaging blog

It’s safe to say blogs aren’t going anywhere as they continue to add SEO value, build brands and give potential employees a better understanding of your business. Accenture manages a ‘careers blog’ that’s targeted at potential candidates. It offers industry-relevant articles ad tips on how to apply for Accenture roles and videos. The best part is the bulk of content is written by employees, which makes it feel even more authentic. But if it might be tricky to get staff on board to create posts, it might be easier to outsource content creation to an agency -a service that us at Southerly offers to many of our clients. Whatever the case, creative content is king – and if done well, you can expect it to attract the cream of the crop the next time you’re looking for top talent.

The finance industry is facing a rapid period of change as the result of disruptive tech, regulatory changes and the economic landscape. But how will this impact the ways financial institutions function internally? What can companies do to manage their brand and reputation? And what will this mean for employee engagement and recruitment in the future? Our series will explore these questions and offer solutions ­–and in our final post of this series, we’ll discuss how to use internal communications to reduce the risk of cyber attacks in your organisation.

Whenever I leave my house, I always make sure the windows are shut, and all of the external-facing doors are locked. I do it without thinking; it’s an integral part of my going out routine, and so far it has proven to be effective. My apartment has never been burgled, and – fingers crossed – this habit will continue to deter would-be thieves.

Ensuring windows and doors are locked when a property is vacant is common sense: I’m sure everyone reading this would feel their heart rate increase dramatically should they realise that, heaven forbid, they’d left the patio door open. An open door is, after all, a welcome invitation for burglars.

However, while we are all vigilant when it comes to keeping our homes safe, many of us have a far more lackadaisical approach to ensuring valuable electronic data and documents remain beyond the reach of bad guys. A failure to utilise adequate security practices when it comes to computers is, quite simply, the digital equivalent of leaving one’s kitchen window on the latch before heading off on holiday.

Looking after sensitive information need not be difficult, but it is absolutely essential, and all businesses – large, small and everything in between – must do all they can to avoid cybercriminals. With the internet playing a fundamental role in how companies operate, taking the right steps to ensure your organisation is protected has never been more crucial.

The finance industry’s predicament

When it comes to finance companies, cyber threats appear to be far more prevalent than in any other sector. According to a report produced by Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, the rate of breaches amongst financial services firms has tripled over the last five years. And, on top of that, the report claims that ‘cyberattacks have a greater financial impact on the financial services industry than on any other’.

Falling victim to cybercrime can not only result in drastic financial implications, but can seriously damage reputations. So, with that in mind, what should finance companies be doing to limit losses and avoid infiltrations, and how damaging can such digital attacks be?

The impact 

According to research carried out by Beaming, cybercrime costs UK businesses in the region of £29.1 billion annually. And, while that is a staggering amount of money, there are other statistics that are even more astounding.

Beaming research also found that in 2017, the average UK business was subjected to around 231,028 internet-borne cyber-attacks. That’s approximately 633 attempts each and every day, which is an absolutely astonishing number.

Speaking in the wake of these remarkable findings, Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, said:

“2017 was the worst year yet for cyber-attacks on British businesses, whose IT security systems are under constant pressure from hackers and malicious computer scripts seeking to exploit any vulnerability. With most attacks targeting relatively simple devices, it is possible many companies are already infected and don’t know about it.”

Given the prevalence of these digital assaults, and the fact that only one need be successful to put a company at risk, it is vital all businesses understand not only the associated dangers, but where businesses are particularly vulnerable, how threats can be mitigated, and how firms can ensure all employees are clued up on the dangers. 

Where are you vulnerable?

More often than not, visiting only secure websites, downloading material from places that are trustworthy, and installing sufficient security software, will be enough to repel the vast majority of cyber-attacks. However, it always pays to remain attentive, especially when it comes to things that can easily slip under the radar, such as opening emails.

One of the most common ways that a fraudster will attempt to infiltrate a company is via an email. This is often referred to as a ‘phishing’ scam. Such emails will encourage the recipient to click a link or download a file, often by declaring it to be something that it isn’t. And, while most of these emails are written in a way that is amateurish and, therefore, immediately suspicious, criminals are becoming far more adept at creating scams that, on the surface, appear trustworthy.

If you have an IT manager, ensure they keep on top of not only protecting your company’s systems, but of alerting employees should they become aware of threats or scams that could evade firewalls and antivirus software. Have a content strategy in place that will allow them to update employees on progress and procedures at regular intervals – perhaps quarterly – within regular internal communications documents, such as newsletters.

Remember, it just takes one misjudged click to infect an entire network, and potentially generate numerous complications.

Invest and assess

Getting the right security software is vital. This is a pretty basic statement, but that doesn’t mean its importance should be watered down. Investing in anti-virus software, ensuring manufacturer updates are installed when prompted, and running regular tests to find – and subsequently vanquish – threats, is computer protection 101.

Education and the value of internal comms

Internal communications can be the difference between ensuring an employee refrains from opening a virus-ridden email, and them downloading a document that infects a company’s entire computer network.

It is important that all members of staff be made aware of what a cyber threat is, and what to do should they suspect that a hacker is at play. This means educating everyone during their onboarding sessions, but also making them aware of changes or particular hazards as and when they arise in real time. And this – with regard to the latter point especially – is when internal comms becomes indispensable.

Companies are most vulnerable when employees are unaware of protocol, or can be hoodwinked into committing an action that works in the cybercriminal’s favour. And, the more employees your company has, the more avenues a hacker has to attempt to exploit.

By remaining alert, keeping employees updated regularly, and letting them know who should be contacted if they ever become suspicious, attacks can be kept to a minimum, and in a lot of cases eradicated entirely.

Getting the message right

If you’re having difficulties when it comes to getting messaging spot on, or knowing how best to communicate serious dispatches to employees or stakeholders, we’re here to help. We’ve worked with numerous clients – from Shell to NatWest, Government agencies to technology giants – to help them deliver complex and multifaceted communications campaigns, and now we want to assist you.

If you want to discuss your communications needs, get in touch with us today. We’re always happy to talk content marketing and comms with people who understand the value of getting the right messages in front of the right people.

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