Thought Leadership

Driving confidence is vital for finance brands

Marketing leaders from Monzo, Natwest, PensionBee and Mr President discussed how finance brands can better connect with young consumers

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


“You build confidence by making people more capable.”

AJ Coyne, Vice President of Marketing at Monzo, is explaining the role of brands in closing the confidence gap young consumers face when it comes to finance. From a cost of living crisis to Brexit, Covid and geopolitical uncertainty, young people have grown up in an era in which financial instability is rife. In a world of chaos, it is perhaps not surprising that these young consumers are seeking greater control of their own financial destiny.

Speaking at Mr President’s Future of Finance event, in partnership with Creativebrief, Coyne revealed that young consumers have a genuine desire for improvement. This desire stretches across product categories; whether it comes to fitness, wellness or finance, these consumers are committed to pushing for progress. However, on the flip side of this desire for growth, Coyne highlighted the self-doubt these consumers face on their journey to do things differently.

It’s this capability gap that Monzo is committed to solving through both specific products and in the broader way they commit to communicating without jargon. “We always speak with really human language,” he explained. A step change for a sector which hasn’t historically recognised that jargon is a sign of insecurity.

From a new product development perspective this commitment to simplicity means that Monzo never assumes a level of knowledge. Instead, it starts with the genuinely accessible question of ‘where can we start.’

Coyne revealed that one-third of people using Monzo’s investment products are investing for the first time, a figure which rises to 45% amongst women—statistics which underline how the brand’s accessible and inclusive approach is genuinely attracting new audiences to investment. 

You build confidence by making people more capable.

AJ Coyne, Vice President of Marketing at Monzo

Meet the financially engaged consumer

This audience has new needs and specific attitudes towards finance. According to new research from Mr. President, young people are paying more attention to their long-term finances than ever before. The agency believes that there has never been a generation as obsessed with their wealth (or lack thereof) as 18 to 35-year-olds today.

Dr Mike Anton, Head of Insight at Mr President, explained that this generation has grown up with Covid, a cost of living crisis and higher education debt. Pressures which mean they are looking to do things differently. “All of these experiences have given them a hugely different relationship with finance,” he explained.

Mr President wanted to understand how brands could help connect with this audience. “The new financially engaged audience aren’t a homogenous group, they are paying more attention to their finances for loads of different reasons,” Anton added.

He reminded the audience that consumers have strong emotional responses to different financial brands and are actively seeking out new ways to improve their financial skills and knowledge.

Anton also noted the importance of brands investing in building trust. A lack of trust is one of the biggest barriers to this audience investing in new financial products. “Winning trust is of paramount importance,” he noted.

Everything we are doing should be straightforward.

Nicky Mackrell, Director of Marketing at NatWest Group

The road to financial literacy starts younger

For Nicky Mackrell, Director of Marketing at NatWest Group, simplicity is key to connecting with these young consumers. “Everything we are doing should be straightforward,” she explained.

Mackrell added that NatWest has a long-standing education programme with schools, but the narrative around money has changed. In line with this, the brand has shifted its approach to take a more holistic approach to wellbeing, in which financial literacy plays a big part.

Whereas older consumers may remember their relationship with a bank starting with the iconic NatWest Pig Piggy Bank and going into a high street branch, today's relationships are more digitally driven.

Mackrell noted that young consumers are starting their relationship with finance products much earlier. The key moment in that journey is when they can access a phone and use Apple Pay. Notably, these consumers are seeking products and services that meet their own needs, rather than simply accepting the tools or products their parents are giving them.

She also believes that trust is vital, particularly in an era in which consumers expect completely frictionless experiences. She explained that once a consumer has had a negative experience of customer services it is extremely difficult to rebuild trust. “Having those seamless journeys creates that trust,” she added.

We only use real customers in our advertising.

Jasper Martens, Chief Marketing Officer at Pensionbee

Trust, resilience and risk

Trust was a core theme throughout the discussion. Jasper Martens, Chief Marketing Officer, Pensionbee, shared the importance of building trust as a pension brand. “You will think twice about providing a new provider with your life savings,” he quipped.

Notably, while Pensionbee is a decade old, he shared his view that within the finance sector, that still makes it a relatively nascent brand.

Martens advocates for a genuine approach to marketing and like Monzo, the brand is built on the foundations of community and referrals. Roughly a third of the brand’s new customers are acquired from referrals.

This focus on peer-to-peer recommendation also comes into play with Pensionbee’s advertising strategy which places the brand’s customers at its core.

“We only use real customers in our advertising.” explained Martens, he continued: “The reality is if you let your customer speak on behalf of you, then you can really bring the brand to life.” It is an approach that he believes ensures the brand is creating work to connect with real consumers in the real world, rather than marketing to a Shoreditch-based advertising stereotype.

While it's easy to think of pension products as the preserve of the over the 50s, Martens reminded the audience that a pension is in fact a mass-market product. He explained: “Everyone needs a pension to retire but a 25-year-old will look at them very differently to a 55-year-old. The way you want to engage the product is completely different.”

The importance of building this engagement earlier cannot be underestimated in an era in which young people have to build unprecedented levels of financial resilience. Simple language, accessible and inclusive products and a commitment to trust and transparency will help build capability and confidence across demographics.

This shift is not just about the digital democratisation offered by fintech brands, but a step change in the way brands communicate with these highly engaged consumers. As Naomi Dunne, Head of Strategy at Mr President reminded the audience finance is actually an emotionally rich space for marketing. “As an ambition we would love to see more emotionally rich creative work,” she explained.

Charlie Carpenter, CEO of Creativebrief, reminded the audience there are many reasons to be positive about the future of finance, considering the fact that such a large section of young consumers are actively seeking out new financial products.

This drive to do things differently affords marketers a unique opportunity to both drive growth and demystify an entire sector.

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