Citibank’s Julie Booth on activating customer passion points

On this week’s podcast we have Citibank’s Julie Booth. She is a senior vice president in the cards group focused on social and content strategies for North America. She spoke at the Tradestreaming Money Conference in New York City on November 14.

Her presentation described how marketers at leading financial firms can target customer passion points. Julie’s team works to create social ambassadors — customers who scream from the mountain tops how happy they are to be working with Citi. Julie describes Citi’s surprise and delight campaigns that identify social opportunities to provide extraordinary service to a customer. From there, social teams encourage happy clients to share their experiences with their own networks.

Listen through to the end as Julie fields a couple of interesting questions from the crowd.

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Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode.

From business priorities to passion points

We don’t have a large team at Citi, but we service various categories, including proprietary products, services, co-brands, entertainment, and cross franchise, with social media, content, and innovation. We pump out ten thousand pieces of content every quarter and every single one of them needs to be approved by compliance and legal. We’re trying to speak to our customers’ passion points.

Citibank's Julie Booth on customer passion points

We identify the things our customers are excited about, whether it’s travel, retail, auto, dining, or sports and we offer experiences and access for any of these types of customers. It’s an experiential one-stop shop. No matter what you have a passion for, you need money to do it. You need a reliable payment method to do any of these things. Can a financial services firm offer great value for using its card that others aren’t?  What kind of experience can you offer that would get your customers shouting from the mountaintops that they’re proud Citi customers? That’s how you build social ambassadors — the access you provide to say, a Billy Joel concert, needs to be unique, memorable and community-driven (customers should be encouraged to share images from the event). Lastly, curate that community element to show everything you’re giving card members.


“You can’t control what you can’t measure.” What we’ve noticed is that when it comes to bragging about corporate wins, you’re not going to dump a data set on a managing director’s desk. She just doesn’t have the time. Talk to your line of business, determine your priorities, take a cluster of metrics and construct a narrative summary to deliver to the higher ups. You need to tell a story. Hard metrics are always available but you need to control the narrative to show what success looks like. We tailor our performance narratives to different groups within Citi.

Key takeaways — surprise and delight

We sponsor thousands of events with our partner, LiveNation. We offer special access to Citi cardmembers to things like football pro camp with Rob Gronkowski. When we promote these experiences across social media, we don’t just publish dryly. For example, our social team shares images of music artists, asking our audience about their favorite songs. You have to amp it up.

We do social listening and sentiment to identify opportunities to surprise and delight our customers. When someone tweets that they want to go to a concert, our team direct messages them with two free tickets courtesy of Citi. But you can’t just say, “We have 2017 season Mets tickets.” You have to say something like “Bleed blue and orange.” Understand who these people are, so you can tailor your content and copy to the passion points of each person.


A Day in the Life: How Behalf’s head of marketing keeps a cross-border team innovating


Although Crystal Eastman has over a decade of experience working at American Express, her recent switch to head of marketing at SMB financing firm Behalf has her pumped: “For a marketer,” she said, “the opportunity to build a brand from scratch is an incredible gift.”

It’s also a challenging gift. Working with a startup, Eastman has to do a lot with a little, and her four-person team, which covers the gamut from brand to acquisition to lifecycle marketing, is spread across the company’s NYC and Israel offices.

One of Eastman’s main goals is spreading awareness of Behalf’s SMB financing solution. With oh so many fintech and even bank SMB financing products on the market, standing out from the crowd is no easy task. As far as Eastman’s concerned, Behalf’s marketing win is in its value proposition, which leverages supply chain financing to help SMBs optimize their cash flow, so they can buy more, which then increases merchant sales.

Here’s what an average workday in Eastman’s life looks like.

6 a.m.: As soon as I get up around 6 a.m. (!), I make my first cup of coffee and spend an hour on quick touch-base calls and respond to all of my emails. When you work on a global team, it’s super important to be there for your colleagues . Otherwise, you end up as a bottleneck to progress. I then proofread the day’s customer emails and give my team the green light to drop.

7 a.m.: After this I go offline for an hour to get my kids ready and take them to school. This is either the best part of my day or the most challenging part of my day, depending on the day. 

8 a.m.: My day in the office typically kicks off in high gear with video conference collaboration sessions with our Israeli office colleagues until noon. At Behalf, we establish “Squads” of cross-functional teams to tackle our strategic priorities. As head of marketing, it’s my job to bring the customer focus to the squads and ensure we are building for consistent, cross-channel delivery of engaging experiences. Today, for instance, we are reimagining the way our customers pay another business for the first time via our platform. We have a lot of fun kicking around new ideas (though I am certain some of my best jokes are getting lost in English to Hebrew translation).

Noonish: A bunch of us have signed up for a new lunch subscription service from a start-up called Meal Pal, so we all have to run to our lunch pick-up appointments. We make a concerted effort to be early adopters of new products and services, then discuss our likes/dislikes with a lens on potential applications to our customer experience.
2 p.m.: I sit down for a face to face with one of our newly-signed strategic merchant partners to plan the launch of our service to their SMB customers. Together we develop a hook for a cobranded announcement, and my team will then focus on creating banners, emails, and a landing page to support the launch over the coming week.

4 p.m.: Time to review some web analytics. We recently relaunched, and are in process of A/B testing our conversion experience, as well as optimizing our content for search — exciting times for a marketing geek! Once I’ve got what I need from the world wide web, I touch base with my team to share insights and make a game plan for the week.

5 p.m.: I sync with our CEO, Benjy Feinberg. Since we’re a startup, we always have way more work to do than people to do it. Having a daily conversation with Benjy helps me prioritize projects and keep my sights set on the biggest opportunities

6 p.m.: We unwind as a team with drinks in our common area. We call this “Behalf O’Clock” and it is a great way to stay connected and recharge after a long, hard day!

‘Shoe leather and digital advertising’: How community banks combine digital with local involvement

Competing with large financial institutions in nothing new to community banks. But as new specialized companies offer financial services to customers, smaller institutions like Renasant Bank find themselves trapped in the middle between incumbents and upstarts.

Renasant was founded in 1904 in the back of a Mississippi bakery, and now has over $8.3 billion dollars in assets, operating in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Now fighting a battle for market share on two fronts, Renasant has needed to quickly evolve to keep pace with technology.

The bank has made technology-driven marketing strategies a key to growth.

“You need the digital space to reach the next level of customer,” said John S. Oxford, director of corporate communication & external affairs. “We’re moving from the branch model to a digital placement of media. The day of placing ads in the local newspaper or doing a radio ad and hoping people see or hear it and will come in is gone.”

Utilizing advertising technology to guide and create pin-point marketing campaigns is the competitive advantage smaller institutions need to compete. Tech driven marketing tools can also include targeting audiences through geo fencing or conquesting, which is buying ad space next to a competitor’s editorial content.

“By utilizing addressable advertising with channel-wide interactions across brands, we’re hitting customers with a mix of PR and traditional marketing across marketing platforms,” remarked Oxford.

Renasant has also worked on technology products to complement its new marketing strategies. It released a mobile app for payments, transfers, and deposits, as well as text message banking for account information.

Renasant’s marketing of its new student checking service is an example of the firm’s new approach. The campaign targeted local universities, using geomapping to find areas with large pockets of students in surrounding areas. The bank then marketed via in-app push advertising, presenting offers of affinity cards for local schools.

Community banks have another competitive advantage over large and small players — trust, something Oxford feels is currently undervalued in the market. Fintech companies have developed innovative apps, but may not be established enough to be trusted by users for large transactions. A user may be secure sending pizza money to a friend through Venmo, but not when transferring a down payment on a house. On the other side, the Wells Fargo fraud hasn’t helped consumers gain trust with larger institutions either.

Millennials also value trust, and are looking to see companies prioritize corporate responsibility. By involving themselves in the community, Renasant is hoping to create brand relationships with millennials that will help the bank.

“Community banks are more active in their communities. In rural America, customers don’t see the larger banks out there at the food pantries. We’re combining shoe leather and digital advertising to create successful marketing campaigns,” he concluded.

Demarketizing fintech About Us pages

Fintech companies love their marketing slogans. If you’re not disruptive, global, or technologically agnostic then you can’t be in fintech. When we come upon a new company intro video, an intern and I like to gamble over how long it takes for something of substance to be said (take the over, not the under — trust me).

The embodiment of the marketing love affair is in the About Us section of company websites. Companies describe themselves as doing the financial equivalent of curing cancer when they’re just taking a splinter out.

Even fintech companies preaching transparency are culprits, shoving so much marketing material into the page you can’t tell what they actually do. Others choose to go the other way, and don’t have any info regarding what they do (but maybe they have a better Facebook page?).

We’re here to de-marketize About Us pages, removing the wheat from the chaff and revealing what a company actually does.


SWIFT is one of those ambiguous companies littering the finance world.  They even got their own WTF to explain what they do.  The financial messaging platform may be an old school finance incumbent, but they’re pretty new school when it comes to marketing.



New summary:

“We provide our community with a platform for messaging, standards for communicating and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration; identification, analysis and regulatory compliance.”

  • Old: 212 words
  • New: 28 words


People may be more familiar with Fiserv than they realize, but still won’t understand the company any better after reading the About Us page. The bulk of the marketing jargon appears in the middle of the company profile, clouding the explanation of the service provider.


New summary:

“Fiserv is an organization with solutions for mobile and online banking, payments, risk management, data analytics and core account processing.”

  • Old: 128 words
  • New: 20 words


The eBay spinoff has an OK explanation of what they do, but there’s still lots of fluff. PayPal juices their About Us page with stats on customers, regions, and currencies supported. The firm cements itself as a fintech player with phrases like “digital payments revolution” and “open, secure, and technologically agnostic payment platform”.


New summary:

“PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL) gives people ways to manage and move their money in more than 202 countries.”

  • Old: 147 words
  • New: 17 words


One of the biggest payment gateways doesn’t hold back with marketing material. Authorize.Net gets into interfaces, pricing, and even how to become a reseller in their “what we do” section.


New summary:

“Authorize.Net provides the infrastructure and security of transaction data.”

  • Old: 257 words
  • New: 9 words


I don’t want to be a stickler, but a company story shouldn’t be on the About Us page. The story behind why a company started should be on the “Why we started page.” Remittance unicorn Transferwise turns its About Us page into an odyssey of fighting against banking propaganda instead of simply stating what it does.


New summary:

“Transferwise lets people send money abroad.”

  • Old: 208 words
  • New: 6 words


Advizer hits the trifecta, with telling a creation story, using the word disruptive three times in two paragraphs, and using the words multicultural and multidisciplinary in the same sentence. All I know from this page is that the company is really really really really disruptive, and it creates fintech products. Terrific.


New summary:

“Advizr creates fintech products.”

  • Old: 137 words
  • New: 4 words


An About Us page should be so simple, an alien should be able to understand it. Crowdfunding platforms where you pay for someone to go on vacation because, well, why not, don’t really make any sense to humans, let alone aliens. It’s only appropriate that Indiegogo’s About Us page has no information on what it actually does, just ideas about empowerment and the right of entrepreneurship, whatever in the hell that means.


New summary:

“Indigogo is where people can raise money for arbitrary things they want to do instead of paying for themselves.”

  • Old: 137 words
  • New: 18 words



4 best ads for loans during the Summer of 2016

Banking services aren’t in crazy demand during the summer months, but that hasn’t completely stopped banks and fintech companies from cranking out video shorts promoting loans. And who can blame them? Loans are an extremely profitable product for the industry. In Q2 2015, for instance, U.S. lenders earned a record $43 billion in profits.

So are lenders able to compete with big retail brands when it comes to producing creative digital video ads with compelling narratives? We think not. But at the very least, these ads show that banks and their fintech compatriots are trying. Payday lenders didn’t make the cut, because they’re gross, and also because their ads are so very boring.

1) Aussie

Australian home lender and mortgage broker Aussie’s September 2016 ad has a family applying for a loan in an airy, bright room, among dozens of service providers eager to assist and a jovial boss helping Mom and Dad choose the very best home loan option for them.

Too bad Australia is so very far away.

2) State Farm Insurance

State Farm’s June 2016 car loan/insurance commercial cleverly parallels a young woman getting a car and an older businessman discovering that his car has been jacked. Though they each say the exact same sentences, “I cannot believe this” and“what a day”, they each benefit from a different financial service from the insurance provider.

We cracked a smile.

3) Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage

Quicken Loans and its Rocket Mortgage product are a big deal in the online lending mortgage scene. The company claims that it’s the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender and the second largest retail mortgage lender in the U.S.

The company’s $5 million Super Bowl ad riled consumers, who believed that Rocket Mortgage spelled the housing apocalypse 2.0. The firm’s 2016 summer ads have avoided any major controversy so far, and tap into the renewed Star Trek franchise, with Vulcans discussing and explaining how Rocket Mortgage works. Frankly, the use of a nearly emotionless creature to promote a mortgage product is a little bit more than puzzling to us.

Quicken Loans client Vulcan is the “happiest humanoid in the galaxy”, thanks to Rocket Mortgage.

4) Sainsbury’s Bank

Ok, so this video was actually posted back in May, before summer kicked off, but it snuck onto the list thanks to its really funky cinematography, which intersperses the loan applicants’ narrative with wacky short clips that enact what the family is talking about. The bank has a number of 2016 YouTube shorts that follow the same template, advertising other products, like travel money and credit cards.

The UK Brady Brunch Fiona and Ashley need a loan to expand their house so that their combined family doesn’t “boil over”.

Retirement advisors turn to secret web analytics to poach corporate clients

retirement plan administrators getting competitive

As the industry mulls over what to make of the DoL fiduciary ruling, one thing is certain: it’s going to get more complicated to acquire rollover clients. That’s because the new rules extend advisor responsibilities beyond just finding suitable investments for their clients. Under the new rules, if it doesn’t pay to rollover an existing plan 401(k), then the advisor just shouldn’t do it.

And they should. This year, $432 billion of assets are expected to exit sponsored plans and enter IRA brokerage accounts, according to Cerulli Associates. That’s around 5% of total IRA assets. Retirement rollovers are a major source of new asset flows into the industry and one that incumbents would be pained to lose.

The rules are still being debated but that hasn’t stopped the brokerage industry from scrambling for solutions. Indeed, 51% of advisors now think that their business will improve in the face of the DoL rule.

Whatever happens, retirement plan admins can get more aggressive about their marketing to large corporations. SimilarWeb, a web analytics company, recently released a report that details how retirement plan adminstrators can use competitive intelligence to identify the clients of their competitors.

One way firms can do this is by analyzing referral traffic to an administrator’s website. Plan sponsors make it easy for their employees to check on their 401(k)s by supplying them links to their administrator. By analyzing traffic to a provider, a competitor can get a feel for that firm’s client base. Firms will need to use a premium tool like SimilarWeb to get access to this type of web traffic data.

U S401k Retirement Plan Companies’ Marketing Strategies
from SimilarWeb

There are other marketing strategies retirement plan adminstrators can implement to poach new clients. One technique SimilarWeb recommends is looking at the architecture of a competitor’s website for clues about customers. The analytics company has a tool called Leading Folders which analyzes highly-trafficked sections of adminstrator websites. By doing so, you can uncover links that may hint at possible clients. Clicking on these links frequently yields confirmation that the company does indeed do business with a particular corporate client.

competitive intelligence for retirement sponsors
from SimilarWeb

Lastly, SimilarWeb encourages retirement providers to analyze search data that’s driving web traffic to their competitors’ websites. Occasionally, administrators receive significant amounts of traffic from search engines using keyword terms that include their clients’ names. Dive deep into this data and an administrator can further breakdown their competitors’ lists of clients.

Beyond the impact of the DoL ruling, the retirement plan business is seeing a push towards more transparency, broader product selection, and fee compression. Employees of M.I.T., N.Y.U., and Yale recently filed suit against their universities for allowing excessive fees to be charged to plan participants. With new business up for grabs, retirement plan administrators can use competitive intelligence to yield fruit in the future.

Photo credit: Nicholas Eckhart via Visual Hunt / CC BY


4 charts that show how banking customers are changing

11 percent of bank customers switched banks last year, according to the Accenture’s new 2016 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey.

Banks are working harder to retain customers and keep up with their changing demands. Today’s bank clients are increasingly conscientious about extracting the most value out of their banks. This presents an opportunity for financial institutions as customers are increasingly aware that getting the best and most valuable offers requires sharing their personal information. 66 percent of respondents said they were willing to share their personal data to receive relevant product and service options.   


Consequently, the report recommends that in order to better retain customers, banks should better leverage their use of customer data.

In such a climate, digital banks are clear winners of the switching game. Large regional banks saw a net loss of -15 percent. Online-virtual banks saw a net gain of +11 percent. At +3 percent, payments providers had the second highest net gain among all types of financial institutions.


That being said, bank branches are not going away any time soon. 87 percent of respondents, including 86 percent of millennials, report that they want to use a physical bank branch in the future. Bank branches seem to be an important part of the omnichannel banking experience.

bank branch

Customers use different channels in different ways. Online banking is the dominant form of banking with 60 percent of respondents reporting they use it at least weekly. Mobile is used mostly as a transactional tool. The top three reasons for mobile banking are making a payment, depositing a check and viewing a past transaction. 

Roboadvice, or the use of automation to assist customers with their financial needs, is also seen favorably by customers, mostly due to convenience and price. 46 percent of costumers — a number the report authors found “surprising” —  said they are willing to bank using roboadvice.



“Introducing robo-advice into retail banking cannot be done in haste,” the report warns. “Banks need to determine the right technologies, pricing strategies and how to enable roboadvice without creating channel conflict.”


Photo via VisualHunt

Moving beyond the golf course: A resource guide to hedge fund LP marketing

Moving beyond the golf course: A resource guide to hedge fund LP marketing

Traditionally, the process of marketing a hedge fund to potential LPs was a slow process of relationship building, epitomized by the golf course cliche.

Hedge fund managers would mostly raise capital through third party marketers, who acted as middlemen connecting prospect LPs, institutional investors, financial advisors or high net worth individuals, to hedge fund managers.

After 2012’s JOBS Act was passed, hedge fund managers can utilize the same digital marketing strategies other industries use to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. Marketers like to talk about convergence of earned, owned, and paid media as the most holistic marketing strategy and hedge funds are now permitted to publicly solicit.

The 3 types of media

Earned media is the exposure and awareness a brand receives from the media or the public. This includes speaking engagements, mentions in the press, and social amplification. Owned media is exposure and awareness generated by the firm itself. This includes blog posts, white papers, research, and newsletter campaigns. Paid media is exposure that was paid for, such as newspaper ads, sponsored content in trade magazines or paid search and social campaigns.

The three types of media are considered convergent as activity can flow from one type to another. A white paper can be picked up by reporters, turning it from owned media to earned. Seeing the effectiveness of that piece of content, a firm can decide to pay to promote it in search or social channels to its target audience.

Hedge funds slow to move

But even though public solicitation is now permitted, few are actually doing it. Hedge funds are missing a big marketing opportunity, claims April Rudin, Founder of the Rudin Group a marketing strategy firm servicing financial services and wealth management. Thinking of high net worth individuals as less digitally savvy is a misconception.

“Investors are very receptive to digital,” Rudin said. “High net worth individuals are receiving more and more information, and want to receive more information, on digital channels. What they are no longer receptive to is getting the 50-page PDF, or 25-page pitch book from a hedge fund and trying to figure out what it means. There is huge appetite for easy, digestible information that is more authentic and genuine than what has been put out in the past.”

Best practice marketing approaches do not change the basic nature of LP marketing, relationship building and management — they just inject them with steroids. It is important to remember, however, that a marketing strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires an organization to be regular and persistent in its thought leadership activities, as well as knowing how to personalize a message to various target audiences.

Advanced tools for prospecting, relationship management and communication automation help hedge fund managers scale their efforts to reach new potential investors, stay top-of-mind with their current investors and strengthen their brand awareness.

Here is a list of tools that can assist hedge fund managers in their marketing efforts.

Identifying the right audience

  1. Pitchbook: Pitchbook is a robust database of investor and deal activity. The database’s advanced custom search allows one to pinpoint potential LPs for prospecting, or keep up to date with current prospects in the pipeline. For an additional cost, the company also offers an API, which can sync a firm’s internal databases with the latest updates on a particular contact or company.
  2. Relationship Science: RelSci Is a targeted networking tool for investors, philanthropists, and high net worth individuals. The platform has an impressive amount of data on each profile in its database and allows users to search for the shortest path to get introduced to a target. This feature is extremely useful when researching decision makers in a given organization. The company boasts approximately four million business leaders and a million organizations in its database. Each profile includes work history, board connections, deal history, education, non-profit affiliations, investment holdings, personal interests, business relationships and personal connections.
  3. Trusted Insight: Trusted Insight is an alternative asset syndication platform. Though the platform’s main objective is to vet and discover new investment opportunities, the platform also enables its members to connect, network and even get hired. The company claims that among its most reputable family offices, financial institutions, and 140,000 members are some of the world’s largest pension funds and endowments.
  4. Wealth-X: Wealth-X is a database of ultra high net worth individuals. Each dossier includes an individual’s financial profile, interests, known associates, affiliations, family members, biographies and news. Like LinkedIn, if a user identifies his own contacts, he can easily see their contacts and ask for warm intros.
  5. Hedge Connection: Hedge Connection’s Capital Club, an online investor introductory service for fund managers, allows hedge fund managers to search for investors, and also to schedule calls directly from the platform. All investors have opted in to the service, so there is no concern of spamming.
  6. Harvest Exchange: Harvest Exchange is a content platform for hedge fund managers and other institutional investors to post thought-leadership content and share ideas and perspectives. This, in turn, can foster new business relationships and exposure to prospective investors on Harvest. The company claims 10,000 financial firms and 300,000 individual investors are on the platform.

Maintaining the relationship

Connecting with a prospect is the easy part. The grunt work of sales and marketing is the art of the follow up. A good CRM — an oxymoron if ever there was one — is essential for this. Some of the must haves for a good CRM are reminders to follow up and good email integration, so a prospect can easily be moved down the funnel, making sure no details are lost along the way.

Some popular CRM choices for hedge fund marketers include:

  • The grandaddy of CRMs in the cloud, Salesforce and its data tool, SalesforceIQ, which automatically enriches a contact’s record with information gathered from public social profiles.
  • Base CRM, and Hubspot CRM, the latter has the ability to send emails automatically based on predefined rules. For example, a hedge fund marketer could send a follow up email with a pitch deck if a prospect did not reply to a previous email after 3 days.
  • Some CRMs like Backstop’s and Ledgex’s were designed specifically for hedge funds

Optimally, a firm’s contact list — properly tagged and organized —  should be synced with email marketing software. Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor will all help bulk email contacts and they’re all pretty similar in what they offer.

Creating segmented lists for email marketing is essential because different people in your database require different types of communication. Segmentation allows for tailored communications while maintaining the ease and scale of email marketing. Emailing qualified leads is different than sending updates to prospects you met with already, trying to move them down the funnel. Your current investors will demand other types of content altogether.

Tying it all together

Regardless of what tools a hedge fund marketer employs, it’s important to go in with a good strategy. “The most important thing is to create a marketing plan,” said Rudin. “Every hedge fund manager has an investment strategy that has a plan, but not everybody has a marketing plan.”

Without a structured method and message architecture, Rudin warns, financial firms end up engaging sporadically in marketing activities. Without consistency, this type of messaging doesn’t compound to strengthen a particular pitch about a fund and can end up being generally a waste of time.

Though this may sound daunting, there is a method to the hedge fund marketing madness. Using advanced prospecting methods will send more leads down the marketing funnel. Consistent, periodic and personalized communication with prospects in different stages of the pipeline will make conversion easier when it is time to raise new funds.


Photo credit: emjstout via VisualHunt / CC BY

Marketing financial services to millennials: A roundup

financial firms target millennials

Millennials in focus: Biggest generation, how to speak ‘Millennial’

What Facebook knows about banking and millennials (The Financial Brand)
In a recent study, the social network worked with FIs to uncover more about what millennials want/need from their financial services providers.

Line is The Wall Street Journal’s fastest-growing platform (Digiday)
Carla Zanoni, executive emerging media editor at The Wall Street Journal, claims messaging app, Line, has been the Journal’s fastest-growing social channel, reaching over 2 million followers since it launched on the Japanese app 15 months ago. “I’m not seeing that kind of growth anywhere else, period,” she told Digiday.

How credit unions can win the millennial market (The Financial Brand)
No, this isn’t just another study about millennials. This is about a report – produced jointly by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and Cornerstone Advisors – entitled Competing on Financial Health: How Credit Unions Can Win the Gen Y Market.

millennials and fintech

The world of fintech startups for millennials (Wealth Management)
According to Goldman Sachs, while Millennials are the largest generation (almost 100m strong), they are have less income and higher debt levels. Here’s an overview of how financial services firms are lining up to service this generation.


4 ways financial companies are targeting millennials

financial firms target millennials

Many financial companies are searching for new ways to market to millennials. It makes sense: as millennials age, they have a growing appetite for financial services. Fintech startups are particularly adept at marketing to millennials because many of these companies were founded and run by people in the same demographic. Companies are acquiring customers through online marketing online, but some are finding that going old school and offline is a surprising way to grab a millennial’s attention.

Here are a few ways companies are reaching out to millennials, both online and offline:


A photo posted by Oscar Insurance (@oscarhealth) on

Oscar is a new type of health insurance company using technology as a means of simplifying the healthcare system and making it more accessible online, as well as at a lower cost. The company has raised over $300 million to date. Oscar’s been advertising in subway stations in New York since October 2013, before expanding its reach to New Jersey, in an attempt to raise more awareness of the company.

In a quote to Adweek, VP of Marketing at Oscar, Veronica Parker-Hahn said: “We knew we needed a way to drive awareness of Oscar, but we didn’t have the money and we weren’t quite ready to dive into the pool of TV.”

Through eye-popping, colorful and cute ads, Oscar speaks to millennials of its accessibility through technology – you can even interact from a couch at home. The company offers an easy-to-manage website, app and even perks and rewards for staying physically active through a free health tracker.


Wealthfront uses TV ads to publicize its low-cost, automated, online investment management services. Through goofy, scripted skits, Wealthfront manages to target millennials during their favorite TV shows on Comedy Central and when their favorite sports games are on commercial break. The commercials have aired most recently on sport channels like Pac-12 Network, during college football games this past fall. This way, Wealthfront can reach the young (and mostly male) population it’s targeting. The 30-something bros starring in its ads may be representative of their target audience of mostly 20- to 30-somethings (the focus on men might have been a good thing as many women commenting on the video were aghast that the men knitting didn’t actually know how to knit).

The roboadvisor built its investor base by targeting newly-minted millionaires from big tech firms, like Twitter and Facebook. The company employs many of the same type of people it aims to land as clients and has made some high profile hires like Andrew Johns as VP of Growth. Johns, who graduated college in 2006, spearheaded growth initiatives at companies like Quora, Twitter, and Facebook.


Upstart, a company that bypasses traditional lending models to extend loans to people without an extensive credit history, also targets millennials. Upstart believes that to stand apart from the soup of ads streaming in through social media and online channels, it needs to take a noticeably different course.

Upstart’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Osborn, thinks direct mail is a better way to get his prospects’ attention:

“When we think about where we’re going to find our next customers, we’re definitely looking at the offline opportunity. We’ve been positively surprised in volume and profitability with offline channels. When you get an email offer to refinance your debt, it’s pretty easy to ignore it. But when you get your credit card statement in the mail and a couple of days later, receive an offer to help pay it off, the offer has relevance and timeliness when it comes via direct mail.”

And he should know — his last job was on the marketing team at Uber, a company renown for marketing well to millennials. The marketplace lenders, like Lending Club and Prosper, continue to invest in direct mail, sending tens of millions of pieces every month via the mail, according to the WSJ.

Bank of America

Bank of America has been using Pinterest as a social media platform to reach out to the millennial generation.
To prepare for its social media campaign, the 2nd largest U.S. bank in terms of assets created Better Money Habits (BMH), a website with rich personal finance content for its target group. The company used Promoted Pins on Pinterest to creating digital image with pinpoints, each linking back to their pool of resources on BMH. Pinterest shows these Pins to users based on their search terms and Boards that have a personal finance bent, like buying a home, saving for a vacation, and wedding planning.

Besides being the social media platform with the fast growing percentage of millennials using it, Pinterest is primarily used by women (85% of users). Bank of America is targeting its messaging using digital pictures to connect with millennial women, like pins about wedding dresses titled “Save your way to the perfect dress”. “We are utilizing Pinterest as a visual search engine to reach consumers with the right message at the right time and tailoring our content to what consumers are searching for most often,” said Christopher Smith, the company’s Enterprise Social Media Executive.

Photo credit: TheeErin via / CC BY-ND