Finextra’s Social Media Day (London, 7 April 2011)

As you know, I’ve been focusing on social media in banking, financial services, insurance for over 4 years now.
In March 09 we at Visible Banking started to benchmark how financial institutions are using services like facebook or twitter. We now track 1,400+ accounts on twitter and 700+ pages on facebook in 70 countries.

In 2011 I noticed a tremendous surge of events dedicated to this fascinating, and now fashionable, topic. This year I’ve already delivered several public speaking engagements in London, Paris and HK. And there is more to come: I’ve been invited to contribute to a mix of internal seminars and public events in May and June in the Netherlands, the UK, France, Israel, and Russia.

Unarguably, this high number of events is a validation of the growing importance of social media in banking and insurance. More than a validation, it is a wake up call. People’s expectations are changing rapidly, and businesses can’t afford to be left behind, banks and insurers included.

Last week, I attended Finextra’s first installment of their two social media events: Social Media Day – London on April 7th.

The news provider has been covering a few social media launches and initiatives over the last couple of years, and it makes perfect business sense to leverage their access and tap into their B2B community made of financial services professionals, vendors and consultants. Please note that it wasn’t their first social media event as such, they organized last year a twitterview with the @Citi Team.

Industry Speakers
First of all, kudos to the industry speakers who contributed to the success of the event.

Aden Davies, HTS Innovation at HSBC
Hakan Aldrin, Managing Director of, SEB
Allan Schoenberg, Director, Corporate Communications at the CME Group
Natalie Cowan, Head of Brand and Communications at First Direct
Amanda Brown, Head of PR at First Direct
Kerryn Dinsdale, Senior Public Relations Manager at Barclaycard
Lenore Kantor, Senior Director, Head of Marketing and Communications at FXall
Michelle Monck, Head of Marketing at Saffron Building Society
Mark Jones, Global Financial Communities Editor at Thomson Reuters
Yvette Jackson, Global Head of News & Content, Exchange Traded Instruments, Thomson Reuters

I’d like to stress out two other superb contributions on the day from non-bankers:
Sarah Carter, VP Marketing at Actiance whose presentation on compliance and regulation was extremely insightful, digestable, and entertaining to watch.
Darren Adams, Messaging & Collaboration Executive at IBM whose contribution to the last panel was excellent.

My Take
It was a good first try, and overall I enjoyed attending this event.

More Panels, Less Presentations
The format was interesting, mainly focused on panels which I believe is the way to go for conferences.

It is tricky to find the right balance though. I believe the audience needs to be provided with more context and more background info on the panelists. And ideally, the panels would be even more interactive, with more input and suggestions collected before the event, and more questions asked from the audience on the day.

Following #FINXSM on Twitter
The lack of slides and the dedication of the tweeps in the audience also meant that you could easily follow the whole day on twitter tracking#FINXSM without missing too much of the conversations. Indeed a bit ‘a laFinovate‘, Finextra has been extremely successful gathering a group of active tweeps: the hashtag was even trending at some point.

Congrats to Liz Lumley and the rest of the Finextra team for this achievement.

Where are the Bankers
Finextra managed to gather a large audience of 100+ delegates, including bankers, but it seemed like most of the participants were vendors or consultants. This is a common feedback I heard on the day.

In all fairness, this is what you would expect from such events. Most of the questions came from consultants, not from bankers which was disappointing though.

It demonstrates how difficult it is for event organizers to make money without involving the vendors… On the other hand, the value of networking became more and more important for attendees, people want to hear their peers with hands-on experience, talk them through the key challenges they faced and their solutions.

The topics covered on the day were a bit too generic or too focused on PR and Communications to my taste. We didn’t cover some essential topics such as crowdsourcing, community management, or Voice Of the Customer (VOC) / customer reviews.
But again this is a tricky one: the size of the audience and the range of knowledge from the participants makes it challenging and risky to go too deep…

Stay tuned on VB, I’m curious to see how much Liz and the finextra team will manage to improve the format in time for next month’s event in NYC.

I invite you to check the pictures I shot at the event which are all available onthe Visible Banking page on facebook. Please feel free to comment / tag them and add yours!

You couldn’t attend Finextra’s #FINXSM event in London last week? Get a taste of the event, watch this short video.

I am keen to help you and your financial institution to better understand and leverage social media.

Don’t hesitate to call me (0044 7736 446 357), send me an email (, or DM me (@Visible_Banking) to talk about about twitterfacebook, customer reviews & Voice Of the Customer (VOC) projects in banking, financial services and insurance..

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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