The Social Media rEvolution @ The Financial Services Forum (London, January 2010)

For the last ten years, The Financial Services Forumhas been one of the leading membership organizations in the UK for Marketing Directors in Financial Services (Banking, Insurance, Finance, Fund & Asset Management). I believe they have now over 400 members.

The Forum’s MD, Andrew Porter, contacted me after witnessing the heated discussion about social media in banking at one of the Financial Services Club events last year, “Do Banks get Social … and understand 21st century?“. Last year I contributed to two FS Club events, once as one of the panelists at the event mentioned earlier, and once as one of the two speakers at their “what’s innovative in banking?” event in December 09.

The Visible Banking Events on Social Media in Finance
It has been a while Andrew and I wanted to work together at the FSF. We kind of started an informal collaboration when the FSF recommended their members to attend my first external Social Media & Finance workshop in London last October.
I look forward to being endorsed again for my social media in finance events in London in 2010: a one-day workshop in March / April, and a one-day conference with a second-to-none lineup of speakers in Q3 2010. I also deliver interactive internal workshops and seminars to my clients worldwide. Please send me an email to express your interest or call me if you have any questions.

The Social Media (r)Evolution
I was delighted to be invited to contribute to their first event dedicated to social media in financial services which took place last week at the Yahoo! offices in London. The event was entitled “The Social Media Revolution has Only Just Begun“. Do I agree with the title? Do I really have to answer that question? 😉

OK, I will give it a go! The answer is “yes”… in the UK where most financial institutions are focused on integration work or the redesign of their internet platform. But it is a clear and loud “NO!” if you are well aware of the initiatives launched in the last 3-5 years by leading financial institutions not only in North America, but also in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Australia… I invite you to checkmy Directory of Social Media initiatives in Banking & Financial Services andmy Visible Banking Twitter Watch Series where I now track over 1,000 twitter accounts worldwide.

A Popular Event with about 100 Participants
It looks like the FSF team did a good job promoting the event: the room was properly packed with about 100 participants. My main criticism would be about the mix of companies represented in the room with far too many vendors, pr agencies, and consultants to my taste. As you would expect, it is the consultants who asked most of the questions… It is one of the most basic, but trickiest, challenges for any event organizers, and it is exactly what I make sure to prevent at my events: my key focus is on inviting the best speakers from the industry and having a vast majority of bankers and financial services professionals in the room. It requires far more moderation and facilitation from the chairperson, but it makes the conversations more relevant and insightful.

Please find below the list of financial services companies which registered to attend the event:
Artemis Fund Managers Limited, AXA Insurance UK, AXA Investment Managers UK, Barclays Capital, Barclays Global Investors Ltd, Black Sun, Bluefin, Charles Stanley Ltd, Citi International Personal Bank, Close Asset Management, CofaceUK Group, Cofunds Ltd, Engage Mutual Assurance, F&C Asset Management Ltd, Friends Provident, Halifax Intermediaries, HiFX Plc, Honister Capital, Ignis Asset Management, Investec, Janus Capital International, JPMorgan Asset Management, Just Retirement, Kennington Consulting & Support Services, Legal & General Group Plc, Legal & General Investment Management, M&G Investments, Newton Investment Management, Russell Investments, Schroders Plc, Skandia UK Group, Standard Life Group, The Children’s Mutual, Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd.

It was good to catch up with some of my insurance & asset management clients on that occasion.

Please find below the list of contributors:
* Chairman: Anthony Thomson, Chairman, The Financial Services Forum and Chairman, Metro Bank,
* Speakers: Jason Bacon, Head of Digital Marketing at Lloyds Banking Group, Jeremy Fawcett, Finance Category Director at Yahoo!, Neil Scaifeand Aleksander Stensby at Integrasco, and myself, Christophe Langlois, Founder at

Social Media in Financial Services: coffee, computers and… loans?
Anthony had two questions: “Is Social Media a fad?” and “How should financial institutions engage online?” I aimed to answer both questions during my presentation, and I believe I did.

Even though there is a value to know how Dell, Starbucks or Toyota are all engaging with people online, and how they are cleverly leveraging social media, the specificities of our financial services industry make it almost impossible to adopt similar approaches. It doesn’t mean financial institutions neither can’t nor shouldn’t leverage social media, it means that both our type of initiatives and our success criteria have to be significantly different. This is why it is critical to know what has worked and what hasn’t worked in banking and finance.

During my presentation, I shared my views and some of my key insights on social media, and I covered the following topics: compliance, advocacy, ROI, twitter, people,… and firstdirect. 😉

My phased-approach: Learn, Listen, Participate, Engage, Improve.
My advice: start now, don’t spend too much money upfront, make it simple, find the best possible reward, focus on People.

Thoughts & Comments
* I very much enjoyed the way Anthony chaired the event. He demonstrated a lot of knowledge and used the right amount of humour and the occasional sarcasm. We found at least two “shared interests” between each other: French and watches. Anthony, I look forward to catching up with you soon and, as agreed, to interviewing you on Visible Banking after the launch of Metro Bank at the end of March 2010.
* It was the second time my ex-colleagues Jason and I were invited to speak at the same event. We both contributed to the Financial Services session at the econsultancy Future of Digital Marketing event last year. Good presentation. I totally agree with Jason on two points: 1. the Marketing and Customer Service departments have to re-invent themselves and will be, have to be, totally different two years down the line. 2.even though corporate website will always be necessary, like any other brands banks must now interact where people are interacting: google, yahoo!, facebook, twitter… The era of widget / application economy has arrived. I disagree with the statement that user-generated content (ugc) is dangerous. It is more dangerous to be unaware of the online conversations. Start listening now, identify your influencers and start building relationships with them today.
* I enjoyed our host’s presentation. Jeremy did a great job introducing the current social media environment. The twitter ecosystem is getting more and more crowded indeed. Twitter has now 75m registered users, and there is a huge need for applications and services to filter the noice and identify a specifc group of tweeps among the masses.
Yahoo! is no stranger to neither ugc nor social media with their popular services: Yahoo! Groups, Y! Answers, flickr, or (the late) Yahoo! 360. I will definitely invite Jeremy to contribute to one of my social media events in the future.
* The last presentation was about managing online reputation, listening to online discussions. I can’t stress enough how important that is. This is where you should start in social media. And don’t wait any longer: you don’t have any budget? Use the free tools available online! Good questions from the audience about sentiment analysis and sarcasm, and the opacity of facebook which makes it impossible to automatically monitor the discussions happening between the 350m members. I totally disagree with the advice from Integrasco. For many reasons, it is important to set up an official presence on the most popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. A simple or “boring” page is better than no page. And remember that it takes time to build a sizable audience online.

I invite you to check my presentations below which include many of the slides I used at the event.

You will find all the pictures I shot at the event on the Visible Banking Page on Facebook.
FSF-Picture1 FSF-Picture2 FSF-Picture3

Please find below the two great videos from Socialnomics played at the event, as well as a video montage about Social Media, Compliance, and ROI I made out of three of my video interviews with Tim Collins, SVP Experiental Marketing @ Wells FargoJim Issokson, VP Reputation Management at Mastercard Worldwide, and Steve Furman, Social Media Director at Discover.

Compliance & ROI

Social Media Revolution

Social Media ROI

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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