As the impact of inflation trickles down to service industries and wage expectations rise across all departments, brands and businesses in finance and technology are re-aligning spending and slashing marketing budgets amid the ongoing uncertainty—and concurrently expecting CMOs to more clearly justify marketing spend by explicitly proving its ROI, which is renewing a focus on strategic innovation.
Meanwhile, AI has swept in like a phoenix rising, leading communicators (along with virtually all other business sectors) to re-evaluate every aspect of their practices—just as the growing innovation mandate gains steam. Where will this convergence of stars lead?
A new report from financial services comms agency Cognito, The Future of Finance and Technology: A 2023 Guide for Communications and Marketing Professionals, gathers the insights of more than 100 senior leaders at global organizations in financial services and related industries to understand their strategic and communications reporting. Respondents included those who strictly work in communications and marketing, as well as those—including CEOs—who interact with these functions as part of a larger mandate.
Artificial intelligence represents a significant opportunity
Significantly more than half (58 percent) of those surveyed said greater volume of delivery is the biggest way for AI to make a difference in marketing and communications. Other tactics such as better quality of delivery, new ideas and replacing current staff all were far behind.
Given economic uncertainty, 38 percent of respondents said customer relationships would become more important this year, while 30 percent cited brand and reputation, and 21 percent chose the strength of the balance sheet and availability of credit.
Content (60 percent) and digital marketing (56 percent) were the areas most organizations are looking to increase spend, while sponsorships (15 percent) and (again) digital marketing (27 percent) were the categories where they were least likely to spend more.
Additional findings of the survey include:
- The media has the greatest understanding of investment and retail banking, along with wealth management, with digital assets, crypto and institutional fintech being the least understood.
- Executives believe increasing and ongoing market volatility and credit stress would be the sensitive issues most likely to impact global communications.
- ESG labeling and taxonomy was the area where regulatory initiatives will have the greatest impact on market strategy.
“The strong message from financial services comms and marketing leaders in our survey, across the US and internationally, is that AI is going to bring lots of opportunity to do more with less, but also bring a lot of questions,” said Andrew Marshall, US managing director of Cognito, in a news release.
“Concerns about AI’s impact on jobs isn’t yet a factor in this nascent period of experimentation and learning we are in,” Marshall said. “In terms of 2024 planning, communications budgets are tight reflecting the uncertain economic environment, with increased favorability towards spending on digital marketing, content and media relations over paid activity and sponsorship.”