PR and Personal Finance

By Liz Willder on Monday, 21 May 2018

Response Source wanted to find our more about working in PR in the personal finance industry. They spoke to Teamspirit Director Liz Willder to find out more.

Why do you like working in the personal finance industry?

I’ve worked in personal finance for my entire career but it wasn’t a sector I desperately wanted to get into as a Marketing Graduate! I accidentally fell into it in my first role as an Account Executive at a specialist FS agency, and have worked in the sector ever since.

Over the years I have worked for such a vast range of brands across almost every sector of financial services, and more recently, with some of the UK’s challenger and fintech brands entering the marketplace.

On the face of it, financial services might not seem like the most interesting or creative sectors within Public Relations to specialise in but it’s never disappointed during my 18 years working in the industry. No matter your wealth or background -- finance and money is relevant to us all, these issues touch us daily and our job is to help brands engage with their audiences in the most impactful way possible.

What are some of the big opportunities for the industry?

Working with brands to reach the disengaged. Both traditional brands and the newer fintechs have a real opportunity to challenge the status quo and do things differently to help customers transform their attitudes and behaviours towards money.

This is really important as wealth starts to be redistributed. As the Baby Boomers start to pass on their wealth, there’s potentially a massive risk that money will be passed on to younger generations who have a completely different relationship with money. What happens if a generation that has grown up living ‘comfortably’ with debt, has struggled to get on the housing ladder, tends to live for the here and now and remains somewhat disengaged about saving for the future, suddenly inherits significant sums of money? Not only is there a real risk that this money is used to ‘save the day’ and help millennials resolve their financial woes, there’s also a risk the money could be mis-managed if the ‘advice gap’ continues to grow.

Technology is playing a really important role in helping people engage and nudging people in the right direction – whether that’s switching suppliers to get a cheaper deal or better rate, or reviewing spending patterns to determine where money could be put away for the future. However, there is still a massive opportunity for brands to get younger generations engaged with advice and financial planning in the way previous generations have.

What is one of the hard parts of working in finance comms?

Removing the stigma left by the financial crisis. Getting brands to evolve and innovate to stay relevant, finding the proof points to demonstrate simplicity, transparency and doing what is right for the customer. Only then can we really change perceptions of our industry, challenge the mistrust, and transform brand experiences.

How do you add creativity into campaigns about serious matters? The creative challenge to the cynicism and apathy towards financial services is immense and one of the biggest hurdles PRs and Brands need to overcome and of course, one of the industry’s biggest battles is how to translate complex issues into plain English!

A lot of brands also now want to branch out from the specialist media (e.g. the weekend money / personal finance sections and money based websites) and elevate brand awareness in the news and lifestyle media. So how can we create stories that prompt people to think in terms of lifestyle first, finances second? Serious matters don’t have to be dealt with in a serious way – finding a light-hearted approach that gets to a more personal need or experience is a good start and simplicity in the message is key.

Financial services will always seem boring, resolving money issues will always seem too much of a challenge, and a large majority of people will continue to bury their heads in the sand and put off taking the necessary steps to secure their financial futures.

I think it’s really interesting to look to other lifestyle brands (where loyalty and customer engagement and experience is markedly different), so that we can re-think communications strategies and deliver creative content and campaigns that help to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers.

What has been your favourite campaign to work on?

There’s no one campaign that stands out but personally, I enjoy working with clients facing a crisis situation. It’s then when PRs can really demonstrate their true value. And during my 18 years in Financial Services so far, there have been plenty of crises to work on!

What is one key thing you have learnt about finance since being in your role?

The unnecessary jargon makes everything seem more intimidating than it is – once you see past it, it’s actually quite simple.

What is your must-read publication or news site?

  1. Sunday Times and Financial Times – for setting the agenda and providing the bellwether for how stories are being reported

  2. BBC online and Twitter for breaking news and views throughout the day – vital in a ‘newsroom’ environment

  3. Instagram / Instagram stories for sparking ideas on how FS brands might leverage the power of ‘influencers’ to reach audiences in a different way

Find out more about life as a PR Pro in the personal finance industry here.

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