Local financial marketers gained both strategic advice and practical tips about best practices in financial services marketing at AMA Boston’s recent panel, held at IBM’s Lecture Hall in Cambridge on May 13th.

The impressive panel included Scott Brown, SVP of Private Client Advising at US Trust, Stephanie Dennehy, AVP/Marketing Officer at Radius Bank, and Stuart Rubinstein, SVP of Digital Solutions at Fidelity, and was very ably guided by Patrick Cote, CEO of AssetGrade. The format was designed as a conversation versus formal presentations, and this approach was very well-received by the audience of over 40 marketers, who listened intently and asked questions until time ran out.

Driven by Pat’s offering a series of challenging questions for the panelists and letting them play off each other, the following were the key takeaways:

  • The most important skills that have helped these gifted marketers succeed include: “stealing great ideas, including from outside your industry” and sharing information (Stuart); being a good listener to all levels of colleagues, using and trusting your good judgment (Stephanie) and the importance of relationship-building, tenacity, and curiosity (Scott)
  • Gaining engagement with clients is based on not only understanding each segment and treating them the way they specifically want to be treated, but taking this to an individual level in the case of high net worth clients; from the digital perspective, the key is how to message to specific individuals using today’s powerful tools that integrate the person’s behavior and attitudes across all channels..
  • It is critical for marketers to have a close relationship with the firm’s CTO or CIO; one big challenge is offering continuous improvement in self-service technology while still delivering the personal service that’s essential to most banning relationships.
  • How to best drive value and engagement? Stephanie noted the importance of listening and innovating , especially for a small firm that has just changed its name. Stuart confirmed that mobile is very mainstream now, and a great opportunity to engage, and the insights of young people are increasingly crucial as they have a strong grasp of the new technologies. Scott emphasized the importance of treating your clients well, because they’re all eligible to be poached and have more information at their fingertips than in the past.
  • Pat asked about the most successful campaigns these veterans had ever handled. Great stories conveyed the importance of understanding your market segments and researching the effects if you are making a name change, as Radius did, and how a $5 giveaway in return for the customer’s signing up for e-services created a staggering 25% response.

The engaged audience then had several chances to ask the panelists for their thoughts on questions of branding, technology effects and more:

  • Is disruptive technology affecting financial services marketing? Yes – more outsourcing is coming, and “robo-advisors” are playing a larger role, but trust is still paramount in higher-value relationships. Stuart noted that technology has brought knowledge to many consumers who were previously reliant on experts.
  • Are some banks becoming socially responsible? Yes, a few cases were cited, and it was noted that millenials will be expecting more of this in the future.
  • How are these firms managing social channels? Social is a listening tool as well as a service channel, but must be deployed accordingly; it also gives customers and prospects a chance to see the personal side of employees, said Stephanie. Scott sees the channels being valuable for educations, linking to videos, and listening to the marketplace, while Stuart’s philosophy has been to keep social decentralized and let each group utilize as needed for their customers.
  • How important are demographics to financial services marketing? While still significant, Stephanie noted that they are increasingly being outstripped by psychographics at Radius. Stuart noted that Fidelity is evolving toward women, while Scott indicated the balance of older, more established clients at US Trust with younger, more innovative professionals coming onto the scene.

AMA Boston is very grateful to the panelists for their time and wisdom, and is excited that this event seemed to be extremely valuable for the large group of financial services marketers in attendance. We hope to see many of them at the marquee Customer Experience 20/20 event on June 4th!


  • William Bullard

    William Bullard is a strategic marketer with extensive experience in the Internet, digital marketing, database marketing, content, and many related areas. His career was in direct marketing and wireless communications before he moved into education marketing. He recently founded EdChanges to help institutions leverage strategic marketing in a fast-changing landscape.