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The evolution of financial marketing as seen through the Financial Communications Society Portfolio Awards

  • The 25th anniversary FCS Portfolio awards are coming up.
  • Marketing and communications has evolved a lot over that time.
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The evolution of financial marketing as seen through the Financial Communications Society Portfolio Awards

Financial marketing is an art as much as it is a science. And like with every form of art, it requires its own flavor of society to support its practitioners with leveling up and recognizing talent. The Financial Communications Society has been doing just that since 1967. It’s a not for profit trade association for financial marketers.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the FCS Portfolio Awards which recognize the work of top financial marketers across twenty different categories. FCS CEO Kevin Windorf joins me on the program to discuss the evolution of advertising, marketing, and communications and to give us a preview of the upcoming awards. To register and enter, head on over to the society’s dedicated site.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Why financial marketing requires its own society

Financial marketing is a highly specialized small world. We exist inside a greater world of advertising and communications professionals. But because of the highly specialized, niche market requirements for financial marketers — like regulations, accompanying disclaimers in communications — it leads to the development of a specialized marketing professional.

We have to bring creativity to our work as well as business sense that can deal with a highly regulated environment.

We talk about our three-pronged mission for the Financial Communications Society: community, education and philanthropy. But there really is a fourth area and that’s recognition. We have two major award shows every year. At the end of the year, we do a financial marketer of the year, which recognizes a single company and its CMO.

We also run the FCS Portfolio Awards, which we’re celebrating our 25th year anniversary this year. It started out as an awards show to recognize financial marketing. It’s evolved over the years. Now we have more than twenty categories of awards in marketing and communications, including PR, event marketing, collateral and traditional media. Digital media now makes up 40 to 50 percent of the awards we hand out each year.

How marketing has evolved over the past 25 years

As tools evolve, professional marketers stay in step with the development of new tools for their arsenal. The industry is being driven by new technology. It’s interesting — I was going through the 24 years of archives for the Portfolio Awards. It wasn’t until 1997 that we had our first interactive category. The next year they changed the name to ‘new media’. What struck me was that we didn’t receive any entries and didn’t give out any rewards in that category until 2004 when we partnered with Yahoo Finance to create a best in show around interactive.

From an evolution point of view, the most interesting year was 2013 when we created seven specific categories under the umbrella of digital media. It was at this point that financial marketers had completely embraced digital media, including social.

The industry now fully uses social media to enhance the brand but also in more practical ways like driving traffic to the corporate website and to promote videos.

The evolution of the financial marketer

It’s always critical for a chief marketing officer to speak the industry’s language. Those people who come up through the ranks who work closely with the financial business will succeed. They are still challenged with building the skillset of fundamental branding and marketing and communications abilities.

It isn’t a sexy business. We’re almost handcuffed with regulations. We have this huge challenge of getting people to trust us with their money. Financial products are mainly commoditized and that puts tremendous emphasis on the quality of branding.

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