Today's financial firms aren't your father's financial firms. Vanessa DiMauro is the CEO of Leader Networks, a research and consulting company that helps companies create and grow online communities. In a world of increasingly commoditized financial services, financial communities give their sponsors a whole new level of competitive differentiation. Consumers are demanding more from their financial relationships and financial communities are a way to deepen those relationships, bringing the digital experience back to a human one. She recently published her research on the keys to community readiness and growth. Vanessa and I discuss why financial firms are building and maintaining communities and the challenges in doing so. She provides us some very interesting insight into the ingredients necessary to build a successful community and her view on future trends in community building. Subscribe: iTunes I SoundCloud Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode. Why financial firms are building communities Recently, financial firms have perked up and began thinking more critically about building financial communities. That's because of the critical differentiator these communities can provide by making the relationship with the firms' customers more intimate. New regulation has made this more accessible and new rules have opened the door for financial firms to provide proactive thought leadership and disclosure in the context of communities. Who within financial firms is responsible for the communities? Most frequently, the remit and budget for a community typically fall under the CMO or chief digital officer. The most successful communities have a key stakeholder group because they have impact on R&D, products and services, IT, and very importantly, on customer care. They all need skin in the game because a community that's designed to just be a marketing or amplification channel aren't that successful. Customers come for content and stay for each other. Where are financial communities headed? There's a lot of untapped opportunity for financial services firms to use communities, technology, and the evolving customer relationship to experiment with customer loyalty. To blend automation and a human face. Roboadvisors are a good example of the combination of collaboration and automation. Imagine banking apps that give customers access to the community straight from the apps, to give a full user experience that blends collaboration and content.