It may seem odd that one of the leading fintech venture firms, Anthemis, launched an online zine that explores the big issues impacting financial services to raise attention and create action.
But when you speak to the firm’s chief marketing officer, Leslie Campisi, the non-finance finance publication — called Hacking Finance — makes total sense. We talk about why she launched Hacking Finance and what attitudes she set out to change.
Leslie wears a few hats at Anthemis and we explore those, as well. Like, what are the biggest challenges her firm’s fintech portfolio companies face in growing and how she coaches them? Also, how does she approach branding Anthemis itself, especially in front of raising a new fund.
If you are interested in how the sausage is made at one of the best fintech investment firms out there and how a seasoned pro approaches branding and increasing awareness around new finance brands, you’re not going to want to miss my discussion with Leslie.
The following excerpts were edited for clarity.
The roots of a finance magazine
When I joined Anthemis, I was doing all my CMO sniffing around — send me all your materials, give me access to all the folders on the drive, what is this? I started to realize we had two brands, but they were mushed up together. I would see things referenced as the Anthemis Hacking Finance Retreat or the Hacking Finance Breakfast. At first, it seemed to me as a way to name the events we were hosting. I started asking around and realized, if I’m going to be building the messaging platform for Anthemis, I need to make a decision.
What ended up happening is that Anthemis needs to stay commercially focused. But the people at Anthemis are pretty zany. There’s this spirit of what we do that can be bottled up as Hacking Finance. We’ve been doing our Hacking Finance retreat for eight years. We bring together all members of our ecosystem there and instead of focusing on the day to day, we think about all the things moving our way. Five years ago, we were talking about the future of work and blockchain.
Hacking Finance, as a media property, creates a brand that bottles the beautiful spirit of the retreat and the manufactured serendipity that happens there and makes it available to more people. We have this mission to make sure the people who are the innovators inside financial services feel seen. But equally, I’d like the brand to prove to people who don’t work in the industry that financial services can be heartfelt, colorful, and play with masculinity and femininity.
Anthemis’ mission to change finance
When we created Anthemis eight years ago, we planted a flag to say that financial services has to change. We’re moving to the furthest edge of what we think fintech is and should be. In eight years, people have caught up to us — that’s awesome. Hacking Finance plants the next flag further away. As someone who didn’t grow up in finance, I brought a lot of my own biases, too. Like, are there good people who work in finance? Can we really change the industry for the better? I was a skeptic.
I had no idea when I joined Anthemis that I would be surrounded by investors and portfolio companies that share our vision of the kind of financial services industry we set out to create. I know there are a lot of people like me out there. I want to invite them to engage with us on the innovation topics we’re engaging with. If finance remains the same echo chamber — with the same people who always hold the power and make the decisions and tell the stories — nothing will change.
Goals for the Anthemis CMO
I’ve been at Anthemis for almost three years. We’re getting to a point where we’re reaching a new level of maturity in our marketing strategy. When you work in the VC world, there are years you’re deploying capital and years where you are fundraising. We’re doing a ton of business transformation with an awesome agency called The Ready, so that our whole organization is reinvigorated and shares a set of values. We’ve been working on our Anthemis operating system.
Our purpose to transform the financial services industry will always be our goal, but how we go about it and which target audience we lean into will depend on the business goals. After a couple of years of trying to create a beautiful, high-level corporate messaging strategy, I’m thinking about leaning more into our cred and chops as amazing fintech VCs. I’m looking at how we can better get in front of the LP community.