Digital messengers to the fore

As technology radically transforms how clients deal with their money, financial services firms will see demand rise for digital marketing talent.

To respond to a digital revolution, financial services companies need elite digital marketing talent that is strategic, transformative, and learning agile.

Consumers around the globe now handle their financial services very differently than they did just a few years ago. Gone are the days when investors watched to see where others parked their money and hoped that they, too, would profit. Today’s consumers invest on the go, using their smartphones and tablets to monitor their account activity in an instant. They shop for car and home loans with a few clicks online. They insist on competitive bids for their business. They research their investments across the Internet and, when it comes time to put their cash into stocks, bonds, or commodities, 21st century investors may turn to a Web-based broker.

The stakes are high, involving an estimated ad spend alone of more than $7 billion in 2015. Companies are devoting ever higher percentages of their marketing budgets to digital and analytics, spending on average 25% of their overall marketing budgets on digital to effectively reach customers across multiple channels. Digital marketing talent will play a critical role in ensuring that organizations thrive by reaching consumers with key marketing messages 24/7 across a range of options and devices and through an abundance of tools and platforms.

For financial services companies, new and start-up alike, digital marketing presents great opportunities and significant challenges. Legacy organizations find themselves not only protecting brands that they have built at great cost over decades but also seeking to extend them. Start-ups and new financial services firms wrestle with marketing fundamentals, such as building consumer awareness, reputation, and credibility. All financial services companies need to more effectively acquire, retain, and expand clientele while separating themselves from competitors in noisy, ferocious markets. Technology advances, combined with a blur of data, have been considered potential boons in meeting these goals. Big Data brings financial services companies billions of bits of information about their clients’ habits and practices. Social media offer organizations an array of channels for valuable conversations with customers. By effectively using this information and feedback, financial services companies can deliver a mutually beneficial and personalized customer journey.

Korn Ferry research, experience, and market knowledge indicate that top digital marketing talent has three critical traits. These employees are learning-agile, transformative, and strategic.

Learning agility is mission critical.

Digital marketing’s rapid changes require practitioners to respond quickly and nimbly. Korn Ferry research has established the value of assessing learning agility among high-potential talent and has identified this competency as a valid predictor of long-term leadership potential. Korn Ferry research suggests that only 15% of the global workforce is learning-agile. When these individuals can be identified and developed, the payoff for the company is significant. For example, Korn Ferry found that companies with highly learning-agile
executives have 25% higher profit margins than the other companies in the study.

The best digital marketing executives are visionary and transformative.

New marketing leaders need to be digital- and data-savvy visionaries as they focus on deliverables that reflect shifting times: transforming data, providing a 360-degree customer experience, driving and integrating marketing across the company, creating value for the company and the customer, impact, and improving return on investment. To meet these challenges, digital marketing executives need to focus on at least three key leadership competencies: creating the new and different, inspiring others, and focusing on actions and outcomes. They need to be out-of-the-box thinkers who leverage customer insights and analytics to drive strategy, are able to uncover unseen opportunities, and are willing to push boundaries. They also must be able to drive change within institutions’ established cultures, resources, and demands.

Organizational alignment is critical success factor.

Major change requires total organizational alignment around a new vision, key performance indicators, and timing. Korn Ferry’s Digital Marketing practice uses its market leadership and deep global industry knowledge to help financial services companies align their talent strategy with organizational goals. Korn Ferry has found, for example, that with the customer in charge, some next-generation organizations have embraced an alignment that removes barriers between marketing and technology, combining them in the same department with the same leader. The result is a collaborative, deeply integrated ecosystem, supported from the organization’s top, that can more easily carry out enterprise strategy and enhance the customer experience. To complement strategic alignment and organizational effectiveness, leadership and executive development are core elements of Korn Ferry’s client solutions. Additionally, talent assessment plays an important role in organizational alignment by recruiting leaders with both the right competencies and the right leadership traits.

Korn Ferry’s four dimensions of leadership and talent.

Four dimensions govern human performance in the workplace (see Figure 1, KF4D): competencies, experiences, traits, and drivers. Korn Ferry research shows these areas to be highly predictive of performance differences and correlated with talent variables, including engagement, retention, productivity, leadership effectiveness, and leadership potential.

Figure 1. KF4D

Korn Ferry’s executive search framework can help hiring teams clarify their understanding of how well a candidate fits into their organization. Underpinning this framework is Korn Ferry’s talent intelligence, which is based on more than 2.5 million assessments and profiles of seven million candidates. To find the best digital marketing leadership talent, financial services firms may benefit from recruiting outside their industry, which makes the intelligence derived from the KF4D even more critical to the search.

With its wealth of data, Korn Ferry knows who’s who among top digital marketing talent and has the industry know-how and technical ability to match the best candidate to the position. The Four Dimensional Executive Assessment is an innovative tool built into the firm’s search process, providing the most holistic perspective on the market today. The assessment captures, synthesizes, and visualizes unparalleled candidate insight and delivers it to the hiring team in real time on any computer or tablet. Korn Ferry research shows that 40% to 60% of executives fail and up to half of new executives quit or are fired within the first 18 months at a new employer because of poor fit with the organization. By partnering with Korn Ferry, financial services organizations may better predict how well digital marketing talent will perform and fit before the hire.

Financial services organizations need to harness the power of digital marketing to drive business growth and become market leaders in an increasingly competitive market. By acquiring, developing, and retaining industry-leading digital marketing talent, financial services companies can develop a best-in-class customer experience, gain new customers, increase customer loyalty, and grow market share. Identifying learning-agile, transformative, and strategic talent that is also a cultural fit can be a challenge for this industry. Korn Ferry’s market knowledge, assessment tools, and recruiting insights provide the needed tools for busy CEOs, chief human resource officers, and chief marketing officers, allowing them to bring the right talent into their organizations.

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