Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hot Fintech trends for 2015 - analyst round up part one

What are the industry analysts predicting for retail banking, risk and FX?

Guest post: Eria Odhuba analyst relations lead for Comms Crowd puts together a digest of analyst insight on fintech trends in 2015.
What's hot in fintech?

Traditionally, this time of year means predictions – when wise industry analysts predict the key IT trends for the next 12 months or so. Kudos to analysts willing to stick their heads out! So, at the CommsCrowd we thought it might be helpful to summarise analyst predictions for 2015, specifically, the financial services technology industry – one of our sweet spots.

It’s going to be a series of posts as there is much to cover, this one looks at retail banking, risk and FX. I’ve decided to start by pointing to a number of articles that I feel provide a really good overview of the predictions within specific sectors of financial services for 2015, to which industry analysts have wholly or partially contributed.

Caveat - some analyst firms still have predictions webinars coming up so maybe I jumped the gun a bit (e.g. Celent). However, if you know of other predictions that should be read, please feel free to share these. I definitely don’t claim to have scanned all the key predictions out there – so share away.

The digitisation and disruption of retail bankingThe first article, if you have not seen it already, is a whopper! Top 10 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions for 2015, The Financial Brand:
  1. Using Customer Analytics to Drive Contextual Experiences
  2. Expedited Deployment of Digital Delivery
  3. Mobile-First Design
  4. Increasing Digital and Social Selling
  5. Mass Market Acceptance of Mobile Payments 
  6. Focus on Security and Authentication
  7. Industry Consolidation
  8. Enhanced Customer Incentivization
  9. Investment in Innovation, Incubation and Uncommon Alliances
  10. Increased Impact of Digital Disruptors
So what caught my eye? Apart from specific analyst comments, it is the massive interest in, and inter-linking of, digital, personalisation and mobile. I imagine we’ll see lots of waves being made as banks fight to win/keep customers and look to make their multi-channel experiences seamless, enjoyable and secure.

Oh, and Apple Pay. Trust them to put a spanner in the works!! Ovum is just one of many analyst firms that have a view on how this will change the payments landscape.

Align that spine
But, every now and then someone highlights the ‘old world’ stuff that needs to be sorted out. Check out Four big bank tech trends for 2015 by Chris Skinner. Good old core banking systems renewal is, reluctantly, hanging in there as a major target for investment against ‘newer world’ entries like cloud, analytics and incubators. Banks have to get their spines in order and renewing core systems is a nasty job (probably why CEOs don’t like doing it).

Invest in risk or risk failed investments
If you like going deep, deep, deep undercover in the risk world, IDC Financial Insights’s Worldwide Risk Management 2015 Predictions is a good bet. What do they say?

1. Risk data aggregation, analytics and reporting consumes 75% the CRO agenda in 2015.
2. Led in part by big data solutions, fraud and financial crimes analytics will set global financial institutions back US$2.8 billion for software and services by 2016.
3. 30% of top compliance functions introduce a technological means, business processes, and metrics to manage and minimize conduct failures.
4. Institutions increase investments in risk culture through enterprise education by more than 15% in 2015
5. Industry clouds disrupt legacy risk operations and contribute to 10% reduction in KYC and other compliance costs by 2016.
6. Virtually all CROs will be engaged in credit risk modernization initiatives through 2016
7. By 2016, threat intelligence security services market will growth at 20% CAGR, with consulting services leading the growth.
8. To meet the demand for convenience, by 2016, 10% of mobile-initiated commerce will be biometrically secured, and password usage begins to show signs of decay.
9. By 2017, with workable boundaries of regulation at state and federal levels, financial institutions find their role in crypto-currency clearing.
10.Through 2016, operational risk spending will grow at 8% CAGR, almost 2 times the average growth rate for all IT industry spending.

What got me, first, is the eye-watering $1/2 trillion (really) IT budget for risk across all financial services and, second, the fact that this is still increasing. Risk management, with all the accompanying regulatory, human, technological and political pressures will be a big issue in 2015. Industry analysts that focus on this area will be VERY busy as the need for advice to navigate this really complex area continues.

Cloud, big data and analytics are entrenched topics for discussion now – and in 2015, the vendors that catch analysts’ eyes will be the ones that actually deliver solutions to mitigate risk across these three areas and not simply have aspirational messages.

FX - up your game plan
What about some capital markets-specific predictions? I’ll stick to FX. We all know regulations and FX-fixing seemed to dominate headlines as 2014 closed.

FX-MM magazine has a brilliant overview of what Aite Group thinks will be happening in the global FX market in 2015. There is a lot to digest but I’ll highlight a couple of things. First, tier 2 – regional and national – banks will need to up their game in various areas to compete effectively with tier 1s. Second, as pointed out by Javier Paz, banks looking to broaden their capabilities will need to carefully manage crucial relationships with FX technology firms, brokers and venues. I predict a queue to analysts that can help vendors and/or banks deal with all these issues – and this is just FX!

Self-fulfilling prophecies
These predictions will, to some extent, dictate what analysts are interested in. And if they are really interested in something, it is because there is a demand for their insight. While I have not covered all the fintech predictions possible in this post, it is clear that things like regulation, mobile, customer experience, cloud, big data and analytics will be top of mind in the industry.

The key thing many banks and vendors have to do is to find the right analysts to help delve deeper than the predictions outlined and actually get insights that give them a competitive advantage.

Look out for predictions post #2

If fintech is your thing you may also find the following of interest:
Picture courtesy of www.theiconconciergeblog.com


Monday, 22 December 2014

Guest Post: PR - do you phone or email journalists?


The Comms Crowd's Hiwot Wolde-Senbet shares her learning experiences on pitching journalists.

How would you like your story served?
You can have it any which way,
just please don't shout at me!

Phone or email? That is the dilemma
When you work in public relations  your relationship with the media is crucial to your performance. You can be as creative as you like but if you don’t generate coverage for your clients, it is pointless. 

Having spent the best part of a year agency hopping, I have had to do my fair share of pitching, using phone and email. Therefore I have learnt that every agency has its own attitude towards phone pitching. Some ask for phone pitching experience and put a massive emphasis on one’s ability to pick up the phone and sell in. On the other hand, others, particularly those with journalism experience understand the pressure journalists face and wouldn’t dream of bombarding them with calls. And then there is me. I dread the silence you get from email pitches!

Each to their own!
At the beginning of my career, as an intern, I spent hours after hours calling journalists, who I didn’t know from four pages of media lists, downloaded from Gorkana. Believe me, I am surprised how this experience hasn’t left me scarred for life, particularly when the phone is picked up by a weary and aggressive journalist. The whole process often made my heart race.

However, once in a while, there was ‘the match’, that resulted in a decent coverage making the whole experience bearable.

Specialising in fintech PR, we talk to the same people all the time and that gives us the advantage of knowing the stories they are interested in, so selling in doesn’t feel like cold calling – but exchange of services. However, even within this niche sector most journalists claim they don’t want to be bothered on the phone.

Taking that on board, I learned to be careful who I am calling, I had more success in placing an article if I knew the journalist and had researched and learnedall about  the journalist than just hoping for the best.

So who and when do you call?
Taking my own experience and other PR pros that contributed to Sam's debate on CIPR’s LinkedIn group discussion, I have compiled  some steps that can help you establish that ‘phone relationship’ with your journalist.

1. Understand journalists are always on a deadline and get to know their deadline. Better yet, plan in advance and look at their editorial calendar for the year ahead.

2. What is your story? Does it match their criteria? Nothing annoys journalists more than PRs that pitch the wrong stories. Preparing a few points in advance helps with staying on track!

3. Be polite! Ask if they have time to talk to you and keep it brief, just enough for you to be able to gage their interest. If they show interest, you can follow up if not, be respectful and don’t bother them again.

4. Never ever waffle! I learned this the hard way! Know your story, and exactly what you want to say and why you are calling them and not other journalist.

5. Have an email pitch ready to send as soon as you come off the phone. Email will always fill in the details you missed out.


Having said that, it is important to know everyone is different and should be treated accordingly so keep notes and follow through.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Fintech PR – How to get a bank to put its name to a story

Why so shy?
Throughout my career, I have always maintained that doing PR for fintech companies isn’t rocket science, however it is a bit tricky. Not only are you, the PR, the only person in the brain-chain without a PhD or three, which can leave you feeling perma-insecure; but also ‘tis hard to tell good stories if there are no good stories to tell.


Listening banks are great but when it comes to
fintech PR, talking ones are my favourite
Actually no news isn’t good news – but owing to the nature of the deals, it is not unusual for a small or a start-up fintech company to have just a few client signing announcements a year and those signings usually fall into three categories:
  • The no comment: you may not mention the bank in anyway shape or form – great thank you sooo much for that one.
  • The vanilla bean: you can prepare something but the details are to be so vanilla and that the quote so bland that it’s barely worth the effort. 
  • The never never: You get the go ahead on the Friday night, write it on a Saturday, it gets signed off by your team on the Sunday and it's with the bank for approval first thing Monday morning. And there it will stay, stuck in the corporate food chain awaiting sign off forever more, never to be seen again.
Five tips for getting a bank to sign off a press release
Over the years, working for a fintech start-up, then a fintech multi-national and then a fintech PR agency, these are the tactics I have seen work. It's a bit of a team effort:

1) Incentivize your sales people to negotiate press as part of the contract. Cash bonuses for press releases and double again for a case study, seems to work well enough.

2) Incentivize your bank by giving them a discount in the contract if they agree to do press, get dates.

3) During the sales process and the implementation, stay close to your champion in the bank and work directly with them on the story, using them as the spokesperson, and making sure your story shows your champion as the pioneer they truly are.

4) Have the release written and ready to go so that it can be slipped under the nose of your happy, happy client the day everything goes live ahead of schedule and under budget.

5) Make the release hardworking and insightful tell the story of the partnership between your company and the bank. Do not dwell on what was wrong in the first place, be realistic no bank is going to sign off a story that goes, 'well it was just chaos here till you guys showed up'. And keep the quotes real and relevant not an unadulterated and shameless plug for your company. This will make it easier to get sign off, and more credible with the journalists, on whom you ultimate depend to publish it.

What if you hit an absolute blank wall and can’t get the bank to talk no way no how?

Rather than issuing a no name press release, which somewhat reeks of desperation, consider going down the analyst relations route where your client can freely talk about the project and its successes to the industry analysts under the comfort of NDA.


If this was helpful so too might be:
Made by clever people for clever people: can PRs add value in fintech?
Sibos, no rest for the wicked or even the wise: on getting the best out of the biggest fintech tradeshow.
Why the sign off process can ruin a good press release: self-explanatory I think.