As Aviva CEO slams marketers, are we FX industry leaders lagging behind or leading?

“Marketing is not the pretty print ad you make. Marketing is about finding and communicating differentiators. When you break it all down, that’s the role of the marketing department” – Bart Burggraaf, Managing Partner, MediaGroup Worldwide

The FX industry, despite being a massive producer of ultra-modern, leading edge technology that drives the digital financial markets industry forward, is a relationship business.

As a result of the dichotomy between the product, made up of its finely honed components which create access to global markets from Tier 1 bank level, through sophisticated prime of prime brokerages and price feed aggregators, to integration technology that connects equally sophisticated retail platforms to the nanosecond-critical international financial markets, and the need for continual relationships in order to maintain this complex blend’s integrity, marketing has become a very specialist niche in this business.

Last week, one of Britain’s most senior businessmen, Mark Wilson, CEO of Aviva spoke out on this, in a candid fashion.

Bart Burggraaf

Mr. Wilson, who presides over insurance giant Aviva, rolled up his sleeves and took his gloves off at The Marketing Society’s annual conference, saying “I could stand here today and say the marketing garden is rosy but I don’t think that is the case. The skills that we need in the different stages of global economic development of marketing have changed.”

Having a background in marketing, Mr. Wilson believes that the UK lags behind a bit in terms of how businesses across the country, especially financial services, present themselves. There is a lack of “real marketing” on a national scale, according to Mr. Wilson.

“My biggest frustration with marketers – and it’s something I find a lot, particularly in the western world and Europe – is that they have moved away from being able to articulate why they are winning, what their competitive advantage is, what’s important to the consumer, and why they are different,” he said.

As a result he has introduced what he calls the ‘proposition tweet’ to encourage marketers at Aviva to be more succinct and have greater clarification of ideas when pitching.

“If they can’t explain in 140 characters or less why they will win and what their proposition is for their customer I will kill their product. Because if you can’t sell it in that time why would we invest?”

To ascertain whether this blustery prose is representative, FinanceFeeds went in search of an expert who understands marketing in our industry to dissect it.

An expert in marketing for the FX industry is senior industry figure Bart Burggraaf, Managing Partner at MediaGroup Worldwide explained to FinanceFeeds “Marketing is not the pretty print ad you make. Marketing is about finding and communicating differentiators. When you break it all down, that’s the role of the marketing department. You can be really good at communicating – think pretty print ads – but if there is no difference to talk about and to shape your company around, then you have no chance in such a competitive industry.”

“In FX more than most other industries, brokers need to think about who their target audience is, and then shape their company and offering around it. Why are you better for that target audience? How are you unique? And then you think about the most effective way to communicate this. I think this industry is run by finance people and this needs to change for companies to get outsized market shares. They need to be marketing organisations, not financial services organisations” concluded Mr. Burggraaf.


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