Achieving growth in a complex world – eight years of successful partnerships
Like many 21st c. businesses, Financial Services Partnership (FSP) has been forged in an era of global, national and local shocks. Many associate October with Halloween but for us the month celebrates a specific milestone. We launched in October 2014 with the simple aim of helping financial institutions and fintech challengers to achieve growth in a complex world.
However, what we didn’t foresee back then was the magnitude of events to come – the UK leaving the EU, a global pandemic and a dangerous and disruptive war in Europe. Yet, reflecting on how we’ve evolved and grown in a challenging decade, it’s clear that the two key qualities any organisation needs to thrive today are flexibility and visibility in a congested market. These are themes we talk about to our clients, and here’s why . . .
The importance of flexibility
Perhaps presciently, Financial Services Partnership started life with a flexible business model. Indeed, we were working remotely back in 2014 before anyone had heard of ‘social distancing’.
This is because our founder Chris Hopwood understood that if we were to “create a truly flexible culture for our clients that enables people to react and be decisive”, we had to lead by example. When the first lockdown happened, our already embedded commute-free culture enabled us to stay focussed on supporting clients as they were forced to change course. We believe our flexibility helps us to analyse, anticipate, and be ready to adapt to market changes, and so help our clients to move faster.
We recently wrote about marketing in a recession and how to ensure your business doesn’t fall behind competitors during an economic squeeze as the economy flexes and changes. You can read about the importance of flexibility in uncertain times here.
During uncertain and tough economic times, a flexible approach to marketing matters too. In a time of budget cuts, Harvard Business Review recommends that marketers take a segmented approach, offering some areas where spending reductions would be useful while ‘holding the line’ on necessary investment and robustly making the case for targeted increases. We can relate to this approach.
A congested market – the importance of being memorable
Many marketing teams are under constant pressure to deliver a ‘silver bullet’ and achieve instant success. This isn’t always straightforward. Such an approach can lead to short-termism, meaning marketing decision makers get bogged down in tactics at the expense of strategy. This increases the risk of inconsistent messages that get lost, confuse and fail to resonate with target audiences.
As a steadfast partner to our clients, we aim to deliver effective marketing. While we steer well clear of a one-size-fits-all approach, we essentially help organisations to find a clear and consistent voice that forges a path to expansion. The ultimate aim is to position our clients as leaders. We know from experience that, in a congested marketplace, being memorable, having personality and avoiding jargon matter immensely.
It’s at this point that we defer to the wisdom of Greek philosopher Aristotle, who said that effective communications comprise of three ‘appeals’ based around credibility, logic and motivation. We’ve written a blog all about this here. It’s worth thinking about as you plan campaigns.
You can also read more analysis and our approach to successful marketing on our blog.
An agency that understands its responsibilities
At FSP, we’ve all worked client side. We know what a critical role an agency plays. If the agency fails to perform there is a domino effect that can have an impact on the performance and, ultimately, the jobs of the people we work with. We never lose sight of this.
Also, our success is never solely down to us. It’s achieved when we work closely with our clients – because we know that great things happen through partnership and collaboration.
If you want to talk about your plans and get our views on how you can tackle the year ahead with confidence then contact us. If you want to know more about us, then feel free to read on…
How guiding principles keep us true to our mission
Informing our approach to collaboration are three fundamental guiding principles of performance, balance and integrity.
Our performance principle demands that we’re specialists in financial services and are across the latest trends. Having this niche capability places us apart from generalist agencies.
We aim for balance because we want our team to feel empowered in a flexible culture. When people have flexibility in their own lives it’s easier to flex and pivot in ways that align with our clients’ culture, plans and objectives as things change at pace.
Integrity matters because in a flexible working culture where bureaucracy is minimised, it’s vital to have trust. This involves the confidence to have open and honest conversations and the freedom to make decisions. Ultimately, it’s why our clients feel they can rely on us because we’re up front and don’t hide from difficult conversations.
Where we’ve come from and where we want to be
In the past three years, FSP has made phenomenal progress towards its goal to become recognised as the leading marketing agency in UK financial services. The pandemic accelerated digital technology adoption and catapulted demand for the kind of marketing support and expertise we provide.
We set up the business with the aim of building a team of people who wanted to escape the drag of organisational politics and processes, in order to focus on delivery and commercial results. Essentially, FSP is a group of people who work to deliver for our clients but aren’t chasing titles or promotions, or competing with each other. It’s about cooperation and doing an outstanding job, driven by the results for our clients.
It’s this approach that convinces us that our goal is achievable.