Mel Kenny: Do financial services firms really care?

Mel Kenny

Financial services advertising used to be shouted from high profile billboards, but that is now  a distant memory. We are a stage where it is now considered old hat to bellow the financial services sales message during the online experience – having to close all the pop up boxes that get in the way of what you are reading has fast become an ever-tiresome task.

But while some financial services firms are sticking to the tried and failed approach to advertising, others have moved on and are thinking outside of the box.

One overwhelmingly positive move was Sainsbury’s decision to sponsor the Paralympics, at a time when most corporates were tripping over themselves to be associated with the Olympic Games and are now long forgotten.

Increasingly there are providers putting themselves at the heart of community-based events, such as recent cycling festival Ride London. Done well, this can be powerful. It became second nature to call the long cycle ride from London to Surrey and back “the Prudential 100”. How valuable is that? A few car drivers that day may have been damning but few providers, perhaps with the exception of Aegon’s sponsorship of UK tennis, can get close to such positive prominence.

With funding being withdrawn from community-based projects, financial services firms are in a strong position to step in and show how much they really care. At the very least they will promote the perception that they care.

It is a win-win situation. If a project goes ahead thanks to this funding, XYZ firm is credited for it and for advisers there is the greater likelihood of more enquiries.

Whatever the project, this is the kind of wellbeing relationship companies look to foster.

Take grassroots sport as an example. This is withering away and is in need of a financial injection. Lack of volunteers, lack of funding and rising costs all point to a sector that needs a leg up. And that is where XYZ firm can make a difference.

What is more, this subtle marketing is laden with strong influence and a kind of customer glue which the regulator probably finds difficult to get its head round, no doubt to the glee of marketeers.

We do not want the corporate world to take over our lives but if it is the difference between a community project or event going ahead or not, then it is time for XYZ firm to pleasantly surprise us. Who will be the next Sainsbury’s to go against the grain?

Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands