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Three Key Takeaways from the 2024 Financial Brand Forum

By May 31, 20244 min read

We’re fresh off an exciting week at the Financial Brand Forum, where we caught up with community banks, fintechs, partners, and long-time clients from across the U.S. The event, held in Las Vegas, offered a wealth of insights into the latest trends and strategies shaping the industry. Of course, we took the event by storm with a delicate and important balance of business and party. That is, we centered conversations on the #MulletMentality, a sometimes-hard-to-strike balance of creative marketing and compliance, and one that financial brands know all too well. Here’s a recap of the top takeaways from our time at one of the industry’s most important events.

1. Intentional & Effective Use of AI

The Financial Brand Forum highlighted the critical role of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in transforming banking and financial services. AI is no longer just a buzzword; it’s a pivotal tool for enhancing customer experience, optimizing operations, and driving growth. Discussions focused on how financial institutions can leverage AI to streamline processes, personalize services, and make data-driven decisions.

One standout session emphasized the importance of implementing AI with intention and precision. Rather than adopting AI for the sake of technology, banks and credit unions were encouraged to identify specific problems AI can solve. For example, AI can be used to detect fraudulent activities, analyze customer behavior to offer tailored products, and automate routine tasks to free up staff for more strategic roles.

In his keynote, highly regarded NYU Professor Scott Galloway discussed AI’s transformative impact on culture and the economy, highlighting GLP-1s’ potential in healthcare. He also discussed AI-driven operational efficiencies with predictions for how they will impact the way financial brands deliver value to customers at scale. These points echoed an earlier presentation from former PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman, who emphasized the rapid rate at which AI is advancing and how it will fundamentally revolutionize banking, payments, and tokenization.

2. Digital Transformation Requires a Human Touch

Digital transformation was another hot topic at the forum, underscoring the importance of using data to personalize and target audience segments while at the same time recognizing where human touch matters most. While digital tools and platforms are crucial for staying competitive, the human element remains indispensable in building trust and loyalty among customers.

Speakers at the forum highlighted that many financial institutions fall into the trap of relying too heavily on technology, neglecting the personal connections that drive customer satisfaction. The consensus was that digital transformation should enhance, not replace, human interactions.

Marketing is an especially important place to keep this in mind. It’s easy to streamline content production and miscellaneous marketing tasks using new and emerging AI tools and, in many cases, it makes sense. But the human content? The relatable image of a kid walking into a local bank or credit union to open his first savings account; an image from a disaster cleanup effort; a snapshot of your team volunteering together in service to the community; a picture of your leadership team doing something a little absurd (like wearing a mullet wig, for example)–these are all examples of powerfully human content that now matter more than ever, especially on platforms like social. 

3. The Power of Social Media Engagement

The forum also shed light on the growing importance of social media as a powerful tool for customer engagement and brand building–especially when it comes to humanizing. Financial institutions that harness the power of social media can significantly enhance their reach and influence–but they must be intentional about the content they create and distribute through social channels. 

Sentiments around social media focused on engagement, emphasizing the need for authenticity, responsiveness, and relevance. Financial brands must consider social media not just for marketing, but as a platform for genuine interaction with customers. 

One of the key takeaways was the impact of social media campaigns that resonate emotionally with audiences. Banks that share stories of community involvement, customer success, and employee highlights tend to build stronger connections with their audience.

“Many of our conversations with clients, partners, and thought leaders come back to a common theme: Bland, branded content rarely engages audiences on social media,” explains Social Assurance’s Ben Pankonin. “In fact, it can have the opposite effect–driving off people who are otherwise following or at least open to brand messaging on social channels, where we know people are increasingly spending their time. Relatable, human, storytelling content from financial brands has never been more crucial and financial brands need ways to create and distribute it compliantly.”

What’s Next

Overall, the Financial Brand Forum 2024 underscored that while technology and digital transformation are crucial, the human element and effective engagement strategies are perhaps more important than ever. We were thrilled to see many of our clients and partners for another great year (and, of course, a ton of memories and mullets!) and are already looking forward to the next one.

Social Assurance

Social Assurance helps financial brands connect to their communities. With marketing, sales, and community development solutions, learn how we can help your organization do what it does best: support your community.