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FS communication trends through 2022

By: Kirsty Maxey, CEO, Teamspirit 

As we slowly emerge from lockdown and the overarching concept of us ‘all being in it together’, the narrative must adapt to what’s next. So, alongside structurally fuelling the recovery, financial services brands must keep pace with a new narrative which is changing faster than ever before.

As part of this collective reset, Teamspirit has created the 2022 Signals Report to reflect the immediacy of the challenge ahead. The report looks at issues from The ESG Delivery Gap to Employee Empowerment.

Here are 3 key takeaways from the report for financial services brands to consider when adapting  their communications strategy in the current climate:

The ESG Delivery Gap

Back in October, walking through Glasgow Airport during COP26 felt like being in a dystopian film, with poster after poster about net zero commitments and little else. Proof that peak rhetoric hysteria had been reached and detail is required. Yes, great strides have been made. The $100 trillion under management now backing the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. The UK Government’s plan to make London the world’s first “net zero financial centre”, asking the UK financial institutions and listed firms to publish their strategies on how they will transition to net zero by 2050. But disclosure is voluntary. With no assurance of a company’s ESG information, there’s a chasm between talk and action.

Businesses should, therefore, get serious about ESG evidence and prove the impact being made. To be credible, be transparent, and recognise not everyone will like it. Start by looking at your competitors and the outliers, and recognise that sameness isn’t a safe option. Unite the CSR and marketing teams; lean in to the data that already exists; and create evidence-supported communications that build the case for genuine change. It’s ok to acknowledge that it’s a journey. And listen to your people, those honest if harsh critics. Get it right and their pride will be infectious and invaluable. Evidence is the only antidote to blah blah blah.

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Employee Empowerment

In danger of being binned as woke buzzwords, employee empowerment has entered the public conscience, with the pandemic elevating it further. Defined as “a management philosophy that emphasises the importance of allowing employees to make independent decisions and act on them”, employee empowerment was crystallised with the recent Great Resignation. A tipping point led to more job vacancies than seekers, as many reappraised working lives amid pandemic-related burnout or demands to return to offices. An employee’s market, with 1.1 million job vacancies in the UK (as of September 2021), the cards are stacked in the employees’ favour. The bottom line is they want more and know how to get it.

How can businesses empower their employees? Tuning in, leaning in and listening is a great place to start. The third part, listening, is the crucial part. A recent survey from insurer MetLife, highlighted that almost three quarters – 72% – of employers and 62% of employees agree the pandemic has changed their relationship. So, recognise the change, listen to the new demands and expectations, and then show empathy by acting. A bit like ensuring any sustainability policy doesn’t fall foul of greenwashing critique, it is imperative that employers act authentically and stay the course, as this “woke movement” isn’t going anywhere.

Hyper Local

Have you ever walked into a room and spotted someone wearing the same shoes as you? Or discovered that you both share a love of running? When it happens, it creates an instant bond. They’re like me! We’re similar. I think I like them a little more. And yet, you don’t even know this person. So, why? A recent psychological study asked more than 600 people their opinions of strangers, based on little more than knowing if they were similar or not. The findings suggest that we subconsciously like, trust or attribute higher competence to people that we deem are alike. Herein lies the power of hyper local communications.

We are increasingly finding our clients taking a hyper local approach to their communication. Some, even in some extremely traditional sectors, are developing micro influencer campaigns on social channels, to offer hyper local content that both connects and engages. So a good place to start, is by asking, how hyper local are you being? Then ask yourself, would you prefer someone to talk to you about something that’s aligned to who you are as an individual? Or a generic subject that chimes with the other 68 million people in the country who happen to have a head…

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