Several financial services leaders examined today's hyper-connected financial customer and how to approach this customer during a panel discussion at the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum: Spotlight on Financial Services in Boston on Sept. 15. The panel discussion, titled "Engaging Customers in a Hyper-Connected Financial Landscape," featured insights from:
President, National Life Group Foundation, AVP Corporate Marketing and Community Relations
National Life Group
Vice President, Digital Marketing,
BlackRock Financial Management Inc.
Vice President Product & Solutions Marketing
Prudential Life Insurance
Vice President Insurance Marketing
Panel members explored a number of financial services topics, such as:
1. Customer Challenges in the Financial Services Space
Today's always-connected, always-on global marketplace connects financial services businesses and customers like never before. As such, companies must be equipped to provide customers with immediate access to products and services via multiple channels. Failure to do so, meanwhile, may force a company to fall behind its rivals in a highly competitive financial services market.
"In today's world, customers expect to be able to buy a product however they want," Wooster noted. "We are evolving. ... It's not easy to change, but we are trying to give consumers different ways to reach us."
Furthermore, having the ability to deliver personalized experiences across numerous channels could play an important role in a financial services company's customer interactions.
"Someone who's a potential buyer is a consumer, and the way we engage them is not exactly how we might engage an existing customer."
If a financial services business can deliver a consistent experience across a broad range of channels, it may be better equipped to succeed for years to come. Comparatively, a financial services company that struggles to connect with its customers on myriad channels may struggle to gain ground on its rivals.
2. Customer Engagement
Customer engagement remains a top priority for businesses worldwide, and financial services companies that can differentiate between consumers and customers may be able to deliver relevant, engaging content to the right target audience at the right time.
"Someone who's a potential buyer is a consumer, and the way we engage them is not exactly how we might engage an existing customer," Wooster said. "However, you want the consistency to go through the whole (customer) journey."
In addition, many marketers build "customer personas" that may provide exceptional value. These personas may help financial services firms understand a customer's needs and ensure it is equipped to handle a customer's requests at any time.
"We ended up building personas for each of those different (customer) segments," Cavalieri stated. "Before we build any digital experience or optimize any digital experience from day one, we look at that persona."
3. Content Delivery
Providing customers with pertinent content challenges financial services companies of all sizes, but testing content before it reaches customers may make a world of difference for these businesses.
"On a bi-weekly basis, if we're launching a new user experience or a new piece of content, we get that (content) in front of users before it goes live," Cavalieri said. "We make sure we're testing everything as quickly as possible."
4. Partnering with IT
How marketers foster long-lasting partnerships with IT may dictate a business' success.
Typically, marketers and IT professionals may operate separately within a financial services company. But with new technologies becoming available, marketers are increasingly relying on IT for additional support.
"We are evolving. ... It's not easy to change, but we are trying to give consumers different ways to reach us."
"IT is called on, in a lot of cases, to bring together antiquated or unconnected platforms," Frey said. "And now, we're asking [IT] to dedicate time and resources to look into a new way of doing things, and that becomes challenging."
Conducting "test projects" may help marketers foster collaboration with IT, too.
Cavalieri noted his company has focused on setting up small projects that involve both marketing and IT. By doing so, his business has been able to encourage marketers and IT professionals to work together and ensure that both groups are better equipped to collaborate with one another in the foreseeable future.
5. Working Globally, Domestically and Across Channels
Getting all team members on the same page can be extremely difficult. With a team-oriented approach, however, a financial services company may be better equipped to promote collaboration and drive results across all departments.
Developing a culture of teamwork is essential for financial services firms. And with employees who are willing to work together, a financial services company may be better equipped to meet or exceed its goals.
"We create pockets of teams," Cavalieri said. "If you're working on an individual project and you have the team that you're working with, you have that dedicated resource. ... You're getting everybody that needs to approve, review and contribute to the project into the room on day one."
Beth Rusnock is the President of the National Life Group Foundation and Assistant Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Community Relations. In these roles, Rusnock leads the company’s charitable foundation, drives brand activity, oversees corporate sponsorships and builds and executes marketing campaigns.
She joined National Life Group in 2006 as Second Vice President, Product Marketing, overseeing all life insurance marketing activity. In 2009, she managed marketing strategy and tactics for the Group’s life insurance and annuity products. In December 2011, she became part of the Corporate Marketing team, taking on the roles she currently has.
Prior to joining National Life Group, Rusnock led the life insurance marketing department for ING. She also worked for ad agencies supporting a variety of clients including American Express, Citibank, and Tourneau to increase brand awareness and sales.
Alex Cavalieri is a Vice President at BlackRock and is responsible for leading digital transformation for the iShares and BlackRock.com US experience.
Prior to joining digital, Alex was in the Retirement Marketing division of BlackRock. He was charged with the strategy, development and management of the retirement center digital experience. Prior to joining retirement marketing, Alex led the development and management of BlackRock’s campus recruiting digital experience.
Prior to BlackRock, Alex worked at Glocal, Omni Corporation and Workbridge Associates in various strategy, marketing, and sales roles.
My current role at Prudential is:
As VP, Product & Solutions Marketing for Prudential ILI, I have responsibility for developing and deploying a product portfolio marketing strategy with the goal of leveraging products to help solve consumer financial needs. My team of 6 marketers performs various functions in support of new product launches, BAU product revisions, communication of Underwriting and Service changes and adoption of Advanced Marketing concepts. I also serve as the Site Executive with responsibility for leading and overseeing facilities and activities in support of the ILI associates located in Hartford, CT.
My career highlights are:
Career began at Eastman Kodak Company as an original member of the team created to implement their One Hour Photo retailing business. Spent 7 years in a variety of roles before pursuing MBA.
13 years experience with Prudential, also having worked in their Retirement and Annuities divisions. Responsibilities have spanned a variety of leadership roles in Business Strategy, Marketing, Market Research and Client Relationship Management in both institutional and retail business models.
Some personal information about me is:
Born and raised in Rochester, NY and have also lived in Colorado and Massachusetts at different points in my life.
Majored in Economics at Colgate University (BA) and Finance at Cornell University (MBA).
A proud wife and mother.
Something others may not know about me is:
My 10-year old daughter is adopted from China and that process was the most inspiring event in my life.
Ms. Laura Vail Wooster is vice president and head of Marketing for John Hancock Insurance. In this capacity, Ms. Wooster leads a team responsible for advertising, communications, creative services, customer experience, digital marketing and strategy, marketing promotions, and public relations. Her team has won numerous industry awards for their innovative digital and marketing campaigns, and in 2015 launched an industry-first life insurance solution with an integrated wellness program in partnership with Vitality, to national acclaim.
Ms. Wooster has deep experience in the financial services industry having taken on roles of increasing responsibility at John Hancock, and previously in banking, for more than 20 years. She uses her broad understanding of advertising, communications, digital marketing, event planning, management, market research, public relations, and strategic marketing, to create meaningful campaigns that drive business results.
Ms. Wooster holds an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. She is on the Boards of the Powers Music School in Belmont and the Global Women’s Alliance at JH, and has been an active volunteer for her church, the Belmont Public Schools, Dartmouth College, and Dana Farber/Jimmy Fund (Rally for Cancer).