Category: Financial Services

What global markets can learn from Asia’s unique ESG approach

By Maddy Thirsk, Capital Markets

This blog examines Asia’s distinct approach to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing practices, contrasting it with strategies across Europe and the US. Highlighting cultural impacts and regulatory differences, it offers insights into how global markets can learn from Asian perspectives on ESG.

When confronted with a challenge, we often have two choices: brush it under the rug or tackle it with a new approach, if possible, drawing inspiration from others that have surpassed the challenge. When it comes to ESG, it is essential that global market economies opt for the latter.

Today, we are seeing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, once regarded as the holy grail by many companies, forcing these same firms into a corner. What started as a retreat from these principles in the US is now gathering momentum in Europe[i], where doubts are surfacing over the prioritization of ESG investment principles.

Financial giants like BlackRock are leading this trend, strategically distancing themselves from the term by quietly scrubbing ESG from their marketing strategies. This shift, echoed by outflows from sustainable funds[ii], has garnered enough attention to earn itself a name: ‘greenhushing’[iii]. Driven in part by stricter ESG regulations, this trend could mark a significant turning point in the journey towards more responsible investing, with the concept increasingly drawn into the political sphere as the US presidential election approaches.

But against this fast-evolving backdrop, one region’s commitment to ESG remains as steadfast as ever. With its unique regulatory approach, emphasis on qualitative criteria, and cultural prioritization of corporate responsibility, Asia offers invaluable lessons for navigating the complexities of responsible investing.

During my trip to Aspectus’ recently launched Singapore office[iv] last month, I saw firsthand the region’s bustling sustainable finance scene, buzzing with energy and fresh perspectives. It got me thinking: what can global markets learn from Asia’s unique take on ESG?

Culture and politics: The age-old debate

During my time in Singapore, I witnessed a clear demonstration of both the government’s support for its people and citizens’ unwavering sense of commitment and responsibility. Take the daunting prospect of buying a house in London, for instance. I found myself discussing Singapore’s generous housing grants with a colleague, and it soon became apparent why Asia’s ESG narrative is one characterized by a cultural emphasis on corporate responsibility, rather than politicization.

In Asia, the notion of corporate responsibility is deeply ingrained in cultural values and societal norms. Businesses are expected to act as stewards[i] of the communities in which they operate, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, ethical conduct, and social welfare. This cultural ethos fosters an environment where ESG principles are embraced not as political agendas, but as integral components of corporate governance and business ethics.

This cultural importance also came through in extensive primary research we conducted for an upcoming ESG whitepaper, where not even a fifth of APAC-based marketers said they do not care about ESG factors. More insights to come on this topic towards the end of May in our ESG whitepaper[ii].

In the US, on the other hand, investor interest in ESG is declining, possibly due to the way the term has been weaponised and used as a pawn in the never-ending game of political chess waged in Washington. Shareholder support for ESG proposals is decreasing amid rising divisiveness as we draw closer to this year’s presidential election. Investors are withdrawing from sustainable funds and managers are launching fewer ESG-focused products[iii], indicating a seismic shift in the American investment landscape.

Asia’s Goldilocks Approach to ESG Regulation

Increased regulatory scrutiny is a steadfast fixture in today’s financial landscape, but the approaches taken by different regions are telling. We are seeing divergence between the EU and US approaches to ESG regulation, with Europe imposing stricter requirements while the US rolls back planned regulations amid political opposition. Both strategies could conceivably lead to a notable increase in greenhushing. Meanwhile, Asia is taking a more nuanced approach, focusing on qualitative definitions rather than rigid classifications.

Across Europe, asset managers are struggling to adhere to demanding regulations[i] such as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). Here, the regulatory focus is on classification[ii], with funds falling into distinct categories like Article 8 and 9 based on their emphasis on environmental or social characteristics. Meanwhile, Asian regulators prioritize defining ESG funds themselves, taking a different path.

On top of this, ESG now faces a regulatory pushback[iii] of its own, with the EU’s recent Green Claims directive cracking down on sustainability claims made by companies. To some minds, Europe has over scrutinized and overcomplicated the sustainable investment process and the way in which funds market themselves, which in turn could prompt firms to resort to greenhushing.

Therefore, it is worth considering that perhaps Asia has the right idea by focusing on qualitative criteria, offering a nuanced understanding that quantitative metrics often miss. This way, companies can convey their ESG efforts, sidestepping the pitfalls of mere quantitative metrics and evading the temptation of greenhushing.

Should firms across Europe and the US be given the benefit of the doubt, allowing more room for dialogue rather than continuing to crack down on classifications?

The US, caught in a political tug-of-war over ESG, isn’t offering much clarity. And Europe’s unwavering regulatory grip seems unlikely to loosen soon. But a peek at Asia’s playbook provides may offer valuable lessons. While we cannot presume an imminent change in the US’ politicization of ESG or Europe’s steadfast regulatory stance, it is still important to explore how other regions approach ESG if we are to successfully tackle greenhushing, rather than merely brush it under the rug.

About the author

Maddy is a senior account executive in the Capital Markets team and joined Aspectus after completing a master’s in international management at King’s College London and bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Maddy is fluent in Italian and proficient in German.​

Maddy’s role involves being a day-to-day contact for clients, providing focused advice on media relations across the UK and APAC regions. She recently visited Aspectus’ Singapore office to strengthen media relationships in the region, gaining valuable insights that fuel this blog post. Since starting the role, Maddy has become ever more curious about the ways in which regulatory trends will shape the financial sphere and is excited to continue learning more about the capital markets.​

Key takeaways

Q: What is greenhushing, and how is it affecting ESG investing?
A: Greenhushing refers to firms downplaying or omitting their ESG initiatives to avoid regulatory scrutiny. This trend is growing, particularly in the US and Europe, as firms face increasing regulatory demands and political pressure.

Q: How does Asia’s approach to ESG differ from the US and Europe?
A: Asia emphasizes cultural responsibility and qualitative definitions of ESG regulation, avoiding the rigid classifications and political battles seen in the US and Europe.

Q: What lessons can global markets learn from Asia’s ESG strategies?
A: Global markets can benefit from looking at Asia’s nuanced regulatory approach, emphasizing cultural responsibility and qualitative measures, which provide a more transparent approach to ESG.

More from the industry


[i] https://www.ft.com/content/c3168f01-b918-48ae-9fe3-35902adb7874

[ii] https://insight.thomsonreuters.com/mena/business/posts/regulatory-approaches-to-esg-diverging-in-europe-and-asia

[iii] https://www.reuters.com/sustainability/sustainable-finance-reporting/comment-pushback-against-esg-has-hit-europe-heres-how-investors-can-ride-out-2024-03-14/


[i] https://www.greenwich.com/blog/esg-spectrum-investor-expectations-and-preferences-across-globe

[ii] https://www.aspectusgroup.com/insights/whitepaper-esg-comms-threading-the-needle/

[iii] https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Finance/Shareholder-support-for-ESG-proposals-crumbles-at-U.S.-companies2


[i] https://www.reuters.com/sustainability/sustainable-finance-reporting/comment-pushback-against-esg-has-hit-europe-heres-how-investors-can-ride-out-2024-03-14/

[ii] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-01-25/sustainable-funds-see-first-ever-global-quarterly-net-outflows

[iii] https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/greenhushing-esg-fund-marketing-names-20240325

[iv] https://www.aspectusgroup.com/contact/singapore/

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A perfect partnership: My love affair with AI

By Alastair Turner, Global CEO

Exploring the transformative partnership between AI and humans, this blog highlights how AI enhances creativity and business innovation. It underscores the importance of ethical collaboration and envisions AI’s role in future achievements.

Eighteen years into a marriage that still sparks joy, laughter and the occasional electric touch, I’ve come to a realization: Partnerships, in their myriad forms, are the bedrock of human achievement. Whether it’s the love that binds my wife and me, or the amazing partnership that we cheer on the sports pitch, dance to at festivals and laugh with en masse at gigs, the essence of collaboration is unmistakable. But there is a new partnership in town and it’s unlike any other: my burgeoning romance with generative artificial intelligence (AI), aka ChatGPT.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill dalliance. No, this is the kind of transformative union that could only be rivaled by the legendary synergies of yesteryear — think Edwards and John lighting up the rugby field, Torvill and Dean gliding to Olympic glory, or Jordan and Pippen dominating the hardwood. Each duo, in their respective arenas, while not always friends or even getting on, showcased the exponential power of collaboration. I have not a smidgen of their talents, but my relationship with AI is certainly helping me be better at my job and it doesn’t seem to mind if I steal the limelight.

AI and humans: A symphony of differences

The beauty of human partnerships often lies in the harmonious interplay of contrasts. Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting genius, the comedic timing of Laurel and Hardy, the strategic masterminds of Montana and Rice when the 49ers won Super Bowls — each partnership thrived on the unique contributions of its members. In the realm of AI, however, the dynamic shifts. Here, the partnership is inherently asymmetrical, with the scales tipped decidedly in my favor. AI doesn’t vie for the spotlight or seek recognition. Not yet anyway. There are no artistic differences and it’s never passive aggressive (not a refence to my wife!). Instead, it amplifies my capabilities, quietly transforming me into, I like to think, a more effective, innovative leader.

The unseen muse: How AI Enhances Human Creativity and Innovation

In the creative industries, the quest for the next “aha!” moment is relentless. AI, with its ability to sift through data and identify patterns invisible to the human eye, has become an indispensable ally. It’s not about replacing the human touch but enriching it, offering a palette of possibilities that were previously unimaginable. This isn’t just about making processes more efficient; it’s about elevating creativity to new heights, guiding us toward ideas that resonate more deeply and connect more authentically. Check out this Harvard Business Review piece for more fascinating insights into how generative AI boosts human creativity.

Building bridges, not replacing them

In the business of marketing and communications, relationships are currency. While AI excels at decoding trends and managing data, it’s the human element — our ability to empathize, to share a laugh, to forge connections — that turns these insights into meaningful strategies. This partnership doesn’t dilute the personal touch; it sets the stage for more impactful human interactions, ensuring that every handshake or shared joke is as potent as it can be.

A dance of complexity and ethics

Facing the labyrinth of modern challenges, the alliance between human ingenuity and AI’s computational prowess is our best bet. Together, we navigate the unpredictable, blending AI’s efficiency with human adaptability and ethical judgment. This is not about relegating AI to the role of a sidekick; it’s about recognizing it as a force multiplier, a catalyst that propels us toward a future we’re only beginning to imagine.

I find it compelling how many of our clients are flirting with AI, using generative AI tools, developing their own GPTs, or speculating about AI’s future in their thought leadership in the media. We hear our clients across our sectors discuss it, from financial services and capital markets to energy, industrials, and technology. Recently our client, a cloud solutions tech provider called Searce, posited that generative AI tools are going to change compliance functions. Fintech provider Clearwater Analytics predicted the proliferation of generative AI use cases in investment accounting and the broader financial services sector. And, global commodities intelligence provider ICIS launched its own generative AI commodities assistant called Ask ICIS.

To infinity and beyond

So, as I reflect on my love affair with AI, I’m reminded of the fictional dynamic duo of Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story. AI is not merely a dependable friend like Woody or a simple gadget on Buzz’s utility belt. It’s far more transformative. Imagine AI as Buzz Lightyear’s wings — it doesn’t just add to our capabilities; it propels us to new realms of possibility.

This partnership with AI is about embarking on a journey to uncharted territories, reaching for ‘infinity and beyond’. It’s not merely about solving problems or enhancing the way we do things; it’s a catalyst that launches us into a future brimming with unexplored potential.

In this perfect partnership, AI doesn’t just add wings to our aspirations — it fuels our flight toward a future ripe with possibilities, ensuring that together, we soar higher, reach further, and dream bigger… It must be love.

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Webinar – Marcoms in Asia: What Businesses Need to Know Now

Aspectus invites you to join our webinar delving into key findings from our latest  ‘Marcom in Asia’ whitepaper, alongside some of the most influential leaders in Marcoms in this region.

What you’ll learn

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ll be covering


  1. Building brand loyalty in a culturally diverse continent
    How can you navigate nuances and seize opportunities?
  2. Digital first strategies
    Is the industry integrated enough or are we operating in siloes?
  3. Gen Z and the new workforce
    How do we leverage the talents of this dynamic cohort?
  4. Industry outlook in 2025 & beyond
    What trends are emerging that have the potential to reshape the future marketing & communications landscape in Asia?

Register now

Registrations are now closed for this event.

Meet the speakers

Rachel Kelly

Senior Presenter at MoneyFM

Webinar Host

Joyce England

Senior Communications Director

Panellist

Juveria Samrin

VP Marketing at TerraPay

Panellist

Su-Ren Neo

Head of Marketing at LinkedIn

Panellist

Koh Juat Muay

President of the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore

Panellist

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Money20/20 Bangkok: should you attend next year?

By Louise Veitch, Head of SE Asia

At the end of April, Money20/20 finally made its debut in Asia at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok.

The city’s strategic location, coupled with its rapidly growing economy and supportive regulatory environment, made it a perfect place for the fintech community to congregate on this side of the world. Bangkok’s 40-degree April heat and  gridlocked traffic also did an excellent job of keeping attendees and sponsors inside the convention centre at all times.

If you’re wondering whether to go in 2025, I have shared insights after attending in April that will either get you registering for next year’s event or deleting it from your calendar entirely.

Size matters

For those who have been to Money2020’s alternative regional events, or the latest Singapore Fintech Festival & Token 2049, like us, you might have been searching for another exhibition hall when you first arrived at the centre.

The event was much smaller, but arguably no less mighty. From speaking with clients and other sponsors, many felt that what it lacked in footfall, it made up for in the quality of attendees. It’s also important to understand that what works for one region, may not work for another, so comparing the money2020 events like for like will never be a useful exercise.

Immediate Return on Investment

A contributing factor to the size, was the cost of the event. It cost thousands to attend the event and much, much more to be an exhibitor. While this ensured that attendees were serious sellers or buyers, companies looking for an immediate return on investment will have struggled to get back in the green.    

Knowledge is power

Over the last 12 months for better or worse the fintech industry has been in the spotlight and while it can sometimes be a lucrative field, it is always innovating at a rapid pace. Money2020 Bangkok showcased the ideas and current thinking of the most influential people in this sector.  

The verdict?

Ultimately, our team will be recommending that some of our clients in Asia (and globally) attend and/or sponsor next year’s event while others should probably sit it out. Considering your business objectives and how this fits into your wider marcoms strategy is a huge factor.

For example, if you are looking to build brand awareness in front of a really relevant community, you can register for next year here. But, if lead generation is the watchword for 2025 and you have specific conversion targets to hit, we might recommend investing in alternative strategies to better support these objectives.

About the author

Louise Veitch heads up operations for Aspectus’ Singapore office, leading the expert team on the ground there as well as Aspectus’ network of consultants across Southeast Asia. She has spent the last decade helping clients in the fintech and traditional finance space to successfully grow their brand awareness globally. Louise was named PR Week’s 30 Under 30 in 2020 in recognition for her work in this space.

Key Takeaways

Q1: How does Money20/20 Asia compare to other fintech events in the region?

 A1: Though smaller in size than events like the Singapore Fintech Festival, Money20/20 Asia’s high-quality attendee base offered substantial networking and business opportunities.

Q2: What are the costs and ROI considerations for attending Money20/20 Asia?

A2: High participation costs mean companies should weigh the potential for immediate returns against the quality of interactions and long-term strategic benefits.

Q3: Should businesses attend Money20/20 Asia in 2025?

A3: Decision to attend should align with specific marketing and commercial objectives, considering factors like brand visibility and lead generation needs.

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How strategic communications can take the UAE’s fintech fever to new heights

By Astrid French, Senior Director based in UAE

With world-class infrastructure, business-friendly taxation policies, and significant industry expertise, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is continuing to show itself as a ripe destination for business – able to withstand economic downturns while many other regions around the world face an uphill battle.

We turn our attention to fintech to see a clear example of this in action. Despite dwindling global investment in fintech, the UAE bucks this trend with total investment soaring 92 per cent in 2023. Pro-fintech regulations and a high adoption rate of digital banking tools are creating an ideal habitat for the sector to thrive. As a result, firms are increasingly looking to the UAE as an essential market for growth.

But with great opportunity, comes great competition, and firms are vying to stand out against the growing crowd. Those who cut through this noise with smart, strategic marketing and communications will ‘own the night’ and fast put distance between themselves and others.

So, what is the size of the opportunity, and how can UAE fintech firms make the most of it?

Climbing the ladder of fintech success

The UAE is deeply rooted in its commitment to digital transformation, championing technologies such as generative artificial intelligence (AI) to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. Predictions indicate that by 2030, AI will contribute US$97 billion to the UAE’s economy, constituting nearly 14 per cent of GDP.

With the next wave of digitisation already in full swing, the UAE offers an optimal location for businesses to explore these possibilities and boost their brand visibility in a growing digital ecosystem.

For instance, the open banking market in the region is booming, projected to reach $1.17bn in 2024. By enabling financial and non-financial institutions to partner and share financial data with regulated fintechs, open banking is dismantling the walls that traditionally limited financial services, creating a connected financial community in the UAE. Opening up secure access to financial data offers firms a treasure trove of information, enabling firms to develop a rich array of personalised products and services and cater to evolving customer needs. Many firms in the region are leveraging strategic communications to showcase the UAE’s open banking prowess, helping to attract attention from investors and stakeholders worldwide.

Collaboration extends beyond the four walls of the UAE’s fintech community, too. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has created an Innovation Hub, home to more than 700 tech firms, regulators, venture capital firms, and educational bodies, working to share knowledge and collaborate. Its FinTech Accelerator Programme offers networking and mentorship opportunities for fintech startups, concentrating on areas like open banking, AI, and automation in effort to enhance financial literacy. By communicating how these advancements are driving the UAE forward as a budding fintech hub, fintech firms can position themselves as key players shaping the future of finance.

The region is also building a growing voice on sustainable finance, and communications are playing a key role in spotlighting this progress. Policymakers and regulators in the UAE are using their platforms to stress the importance of technology to achieve sustainable finance goals, encouraging active engagement from fintech firms to materialise sustainability promises. Fintech organisations in the region are already harnessing AI and blockchain to enhance ESG reporting and transparency, as well as integrating sustainability into investment decisions. Events such as Fintech Abu Dhabi, hosted in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), showcase the advancements being made in sustainable fintech, attracting attention from media and key stakeholders. The ADGM has garnered worldwide recognition for its progressive regulatory frameworks and support for cross-border business activity – bolstering the region’s reputation as a trailblazer in using technology for positive societal impact.

Owning the narrative

So, fintech downturn? It doesn’t look like it in the UAE. It is a fertile ground for fintech innovation, attracting major players in the scene, best-in-class talent, and hefty funding rounds.

But competition will only grow fiercer. A strategic communications and marketing strategy is critical for firms to stand out in all the right ways. If you want to elevate your brand in the UAE, then talk to us at Aspectus where our Middle East specialists can guide you through your next stage of growth.

Q&A:

Q: What sets the UAE apart in terms of fintech investment despite global trends?

A: The UAE benefits from pro-fintech regulations, as well as a healthy domestic economy and growing consumer appetite for digital financial services. Consumers are increasingly seeking seamless, sophisticated banking tools, leaving many entry points for fintech firms in the region.

Q: How does the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) support fintech innovation?

A: The DIFC’s Innovation Hub serves as a collaborative space for over 700 tech firms, venture capital firms, and regulators. Through initiatives like the FinTech Accelerator Programme, it provides networking, mentorship, and support in key areas to enhance financial literacy and drive fintech growth.

Q: What is open banking?

A: Open banking is a process through which banks and financial institutions can allow third parties to access customer data, with their permission, through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). This helps to create more personalised offerings, such as tailored budgeting tips.

Q: What fintech events are hosted in the UAE?

A: Some of the biggest events in the industry are hosted in the UAE. Fintech Abu Dhabi is held in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), attracting global attention. The Dubai FinTech Summit is another event pioneering the next wave of digitalisation in financial services.

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The Monzo Effect: How a fintech became a verb for Gen Z

By Mary Neale-Smith, Financial Services

Explore Monzo’s popularity among Gen Z, from its innovative mobile banking features, vibrant branding, and a strong social media presence, making financial management both trendy and accessible

Monzo has my friends and me exactly where it wants us. From university houses bill sharing, to spilling the cost of groceries on holiday, to requesting a mate for the pint they owe from last week, the phrase “I’ll Monzo you” is firmly cemented in our vocabulary.

According to GlobalData’s 2023 Financial Services Consumer Survey, 52% of Monzo’s customers belong to Generation Z (<27 years old) and two thirds are under 30 years old. So, what’s the key to Monzo’s popularity among Generation Z?

On Wednesdays we wear pink

Colours can have a huge impact on consumers’ perceptions and emotions towards a brand. Since the introduction of bank cards, companies have battled to balance staying true to their brand identity, whilst simultaneously trying to catch the eye of consumers. Historically bank cards have been blue, grey and green – colours that we regard as stable, calming, neutral and trustworthy. All the emotions banks want to evoke in customers.

So, when Monzo launched into the banking sector in 2015 it was among the first to challenge traditional high street banks, not only with its offering to consumers, but with its coral pink card breaking the norm.

The eye-catching colour of the cards make them a clever marketing tool. Before the brand was well known, taking the card out of your wallet would immediately get people to ask you what it is, leading to an inevitable conversation about how useful the app is, that not only helped word spread about the startup, but let customers back in the early days signal to others that they were early adopters of a trendy new startup.

And the bright coral cards were initially intended to only be a prototype, like how a car maker might show off their future design in bright colour. However, an unexpected wave of community support for the coral card convinced Monzo to keep it around, turning a marketing move into an iconic symbol for the brand.

They also used to run a smart referral bonus that gave £5 to both the customer and to the new friend who they managed to sign up for an account. This cash boost scheme was what originally drew me to Monzo. As a student, you’d do anything for free money – like signing up for 4 different student bank accounts to get various free rewards – and Monzo spread like a wildfire via referral codes and friendship groups.

You can’t force verb-ing

Monzo has nine million retail customers in the U.K. In 2023 alone, the company added two million customers. There are also 400,000 companies using Monzo for their business banking needs. It’s a fast-moving market and Monzo’s popularity among Gen Z isn’t all down to the flashy pink card and old referral scheme.

The ‘verb-ification’ of Monzo – where the name of a product is perceived as a performed action and becomes synonymous with it – has become a way for young people to describe sending money and is a symptom of the fintech’s success.

How did Monzo do it? By embracing its position as a modern mobile bank, Monzo hammered home its convenient and proactive tools to managing money. From easy account setup, to saving pots that automatically receive money from rounding up transition, immediate spending notifications and frictionless peer-to-peer transactions via phone numbers, Monzo capitalised on being at the forefront of mobile banking.

In 2015, the idea of banking solely through an app would have made many skeptical. Now, according to Which’s 2024 guide, four of the five top banks are digital and every major bank, from traditional to challenger, has skin in the mobile banking game.

Since Monzo started in 2015, banks and building societies have closed 5,908 branches. That’s roughly 54 each month as the sector has seen a rapid decline in the use of physical branches. This significant change highlights how the banking industry is moving towards a digital-first approach, signaling a future where physical branches may become the exception rather than the norm. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that this digital shift is controversial, particularly for elderly and vulnerable populations who may find digital services less accessible.

Not your parents’ bank account

But beyond the smooth user experience and handy tools to manage money, Monzo has also successfully tapped into the most effective way to connect with Gen Z – social media.

We’ve all cringed at attempts from businesses social media account trying too hard to be cool.

Monzo seems to have struck the right balance. Its jargon-free, inclusive tone of voice translates from the app to its social media presence, contrasting with the formal corporate speak expected of traditional banks.

Monzo embraces Gen Z and millennials’ self-deprecating tendencies. From resharing viral tweets from users bemoaning the app for telling them how much they’ve spent in a particularly expensive month to LinkedIn posts offering apologies for mistaken excitement over a notification from Monzo about a £0.10 TFL charge, thinking it was a message from a crush.

This approach not only showcases Monzo’s understanding of its audience but highlights the impact of digital marketing on success. It reinforces that when digital marketing is used effectively, it can strengthen and enhance consumer perceptions of a brand.  

Can you grow out of your Monzo?

Monzo’s current popularity with Gen Z is undeniable, but can it last? I recently read an article that labeled Monzo as “trendy,” using the term in the same mildly disparaging manner a grandparent might describe ripped jeans. The article argued that the platform’s abundant use of emojis made it resemble a bank for children.

While the criticisms in the article didn’t hit as hard as the author might have hoped – because really, who doesn’t love a good emoji? – it did raise a compelling question. As Monzo’s Gen Z users grow up, will they stick with the bank, or will it just be a steppingstone to a more ‘adult’ account? Will those students who were drawn to the digital bank for its notifications and spending pots decide to trust Monzo with their first paycheck, their credit card, and perhaps even their first home savings?

Monzo has been a key player in influencing the mobile banking landscape, making it easy and hassle free. The instant notification of transactions, spreading the cost of payments over time, separating money into pots to pay bills, shared tabs and virtual cards are all features that I never knew I needed, but now I can’t imagine going without them.

Through a combination of smart marketing, relatable ethos, and useful products, Monzo’s popularity among Generation Z is indisputable. Not only has it secured its place as indispensable in managing my finances, but Monzo is now absolutely necessary to ensuring my friends’ holiday plans make it out of group chat.  

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21 E-E-A-T Strategies To Supercharge Your SEO And Boost Brand Trust

By Oliver Wells, SEO Director

Estimated read time: 12 minutes 

Blog summary: In this blog I breakdown the importance of Google’s EEAT framework to modern SEO and business growth. I’ll focus on how to implement experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on your website. Read on to learn how utilizing EEAT strategies not only enhances your organic search performance but also builds long lasting customer loyalty and trust; positioning your business for success in a digital-first world. 

EEAT as a measure of enduring quality

In this dynamic and now AI-influenced landscape of digital content production, Google’s E-E-A-T framework stands as a beacon of unwavering credibility. Born into the 2014 edition of the Quality Rater Guidelines as 3 simple letters: “E-A-T” (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) they have since been incorporated into updates both core and micro for as long as I can remember, and now also include a further “E” for “Experience”. We can now see and track the direct and wholly positive impacts of EEAT strategies in organic campaigns, but why is this the case?

“E-A-T is a template for how we rate an individual site. We do it to every single query and every single result. It’s pervasive throughout every single thing we do.”

Hyung-Jin Kim, Vice President of Search at Google, speaking at SMX Next

The value of lived experience

EAT was introduced as a quality concept in response to the growing need for authoritative and trustworthy online information. Fast forward to 2022, and the concept expanded to include ‘Experience’. This represents the value of firsthand, lived experience(s). This evolution wasn’t just an update; it was a statement. Google was championing content not just rich in expertise but also steeped in honest, genuine input. For users, it meant a more relatable, trustworthy and reliable online world, where information comes from those who don’t just know but truly understand the industry because they have lived it – and they aren’t simply writing content in order to sell you a dream. They want to help or guide you towards something, they’re willing to prove themselves to you, and they are happy to be patient.

EEAT as an influencing force

As goes modern SEO, Google’s E-E-A-T has emerged as a powerhouse. Its utilization in the March 2024 update is telling. It’s not just a framework; it’s how you connect with potential customers and website users. It’s how you show them why you’re the best option in a noisy and incoherent grey space of endless choice. By blending experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness Google is able to nudge content creators, business owners and marketing directors (sometimes forcefully and with some degree of resistance) towards excellence. Engaging with EEAT frameworks as they become even more essential, is now a case of when, not if; and there is some degree of urgency.

The focus revolves around rewarding those who know their stuff with resonance that is achieved through genuine experience and transparency – honesty with a dash of true and forthright passion for a craft and a business that wants to thrive. For SEO strategists, myself included, mastering E-E-A-T is not just about playing by the rules; it’s about crafting content that connects with audiences and converts because it is a natural full stop rather than a wrestling match.

Why you need to be using EEAT frameworks sooner, rather than later

So why should you care about SEO and EEAT and what does success look like for your business following continued engagement with these frameworks? The short answer is: online trust = increased business but garnered the right way, consistently and honestly, over time. In our challenging digital world it can seem like every blog and every site is designed to splice attention into consumable chunks, robbing businesses of feeling and websites of humanity.

Therefore, SEOs and Google know and understand that those who genuinely want to engage and talk about a topic are the ones who cultivate the greatest loyalties. Customer loyalty and brand trust being possibly the two greatest pillars upon which strong businesses are built. EEAT is a big thing. I won’t pretend like I am able to discuss it all in one blog post. It encompasses a lot of SEO with crossover into design, digital marketing generally, as well as brand positioning and content creation. But we are passionate about this. We believe strongly that EEAT is the best way to improve organic presence, but we also have an extremely strong feeling that these frameworks are formative to AI and LLM performance. Google may rely heavily on how trustworthy you are, how much authority you have; therefore success in EEAT may very well mean success in AI when AI becomes a major, dominant player in SEO and search.

So, lofty goals we may set, but attainable they are. We have compiled for you below, our top 21 EEAT elements that you must engage with as soon as you can if you want to become a trustworthy organic performance powerhouse.

Unlocking the potential of Google’s EEAT to achieve SEO excellence

Showcase Experience

  1. Use “I” and personal pronouns in your content. Address your audience and readers naturally. We’ve touched on this above but be personable. Talk about yourself as the writer and your experiences relative to the topic at hand and add value with your input. Don’t be afraid of anecdotes. Make your content relatable and authentic. De-mask the featureless writing machine and be “you”. 
  2. For reviews and UGC, try to promote and encourage your customers and users and partners to talk directly about their experience with you as a brand and a business. How did they find an onboarding process? Was their experience with your customer service team positive and why? The value here is in the depth of detail and creating a realistic expectation for others.
  3. Long-form and effusive testimonials are marketing gold-dust. This is a given fact. How you utilize them, once acquired, can be a difference-maker. Make sure you split up a positive review or user-story and inject its influence across your site, content, and marketing channels. You can quote a review snippet into a blog, create an image slider on social media, a testimonial-blast email and so much more. This gives users a great sense of your experience in the industry.
  4. A simple but effective approach is to include dates that relate to your own experiences. If you’re writing a blog, mention your credentials. For me, for example, I have 8 years’ experience in SEO and digital marketing. This one sentence lends credence to my insights and tells Google that my experience can be trusted.
  5. To expand upon the above, when writing meet the team pages or employee information sections on your site (which are a must do but we will get to that!) then include how many years’ experience they each have and where they acquired that experience. What degrees do they have, where did they study, and who are their notable client exposures. If your marketing team of 10, each have between 5- and 10-years’ experience in the industry each, that is a collective (roughly) 50 to 100 years’ worth of knowledge. That is a data point worth shouting about.

Highlight Expertise:

  1. It may seem obvious but one of the best ways to implement the expertise concept is to utilize experts on your site and in your marketing. This can take many forms. You can approach a topic-related industry professional or known quantity to write/author a blog for you. You could also ask for a contribution to a blog piece or you can ask them to provide specific input regarding your service and surface that prominently on your home or service pages. A blend of all is often most effective. Make sure you are displaying the expert’s credentials, qualifications, and experiences as best you can.
  2. Showcase topic experts. When writing content, it is vital that the author is shown. The method of showing also counts here. A one-liner is not enough. We need an author bio of 50-100 words that links the author to the topic. This is an SEO blog. The ‘about the author’ section in this blog talks about my SEO experience. Because I am an SEO expert. Ideally, we need a job title too, and an image of the author (designs coming soon…) You also need to work towards building a bank of content authored by your experts.
  3. Meet the authors. An often-overlooked strategic content piece. A page that showcases all your authors alongside all their subject specialisms and a link to “see content authored by this expert” goes an extremely long way to showing Google and your audience that you are a trustworthy business comprised of topic/industry experts. You can also go one step further and build out author profile pages on a specific URL for each person; allowing a user to deep-dive your experts, their experience, and the content they have written.
  4. Have you written more on the subject matter? Conducted studies, or research? Then link it. You can’t be an expert with a blog count of one. This blends into the final point of consistency. Experts, real ones, write a lot of content. My colleagues know my specialisms, but if I don’t write on the topic consistently then readers, and Google, won’t know or trust that fact. 
  5. Lastly, an expert uses the best sources. So do your research and showcase your findings. The very best blog articles out there link to studies, research, data, reviews and then some. A brilliantly written wall of text just isn’t going to cut it. Google uses these links to cement the content in truth. Utilize the words and insights of other experts to support and formalize your own.

Generate Authority:

  1. Authority can be hard to earn generally and may take some time as a challenger brand or start-up. For established businesses, you might already have authoritative voices in your company. If so, utilize them. You can begin this process with, for example, creating a meet the team page. Who are the people that make up your business and why are they authoritative (you can see here how constituent parts of the EEAT concept are interlinked). Later on, you can engage with actions such as conferences, community events, posting about your presence there on your site and social media channels; develop individual voices with multimedia creation such as podcasts – make the right types of noise in the right kinds of relevant spaces.
  2. Engage with digital PR. DPR is one of the best, quickest, and most effective ways to build your brand authority. We can get your CEO or a HOD listed in newspapers and magazines offering commentary or insight regarding world-events or current affairs. We can get you a full-post placement in an audience/business specific magazine or publication showcasing a new service, entrance into a foreign market or discussing the state of an industry and the potential issues that may (come to) plague it following the announcement of new legislation. DPR builds authority through direct audience recognition. It also may provide a backlink which directly and positively improves your site’s authority in the eyes of search engines. Furthermore, Google is now able to detect un-linked brand mentions and employ that detection as a measure of trust and authority. This identification is getting more and more sophisticated (a trend that will continue) as Google moves away from traditional backlinking as a potent measure of interconnectivity and moves towards more natural ways of testing a brand’s impact in press – especially as media backlink inclusion gets less and less commonplace. Hence the truly vital nature of digital PR.
  3. To be an authority, you need to understand a subject deeply whilst also developing your and others’ understanding of it at the same time. To do this, you need to create and commission studies, research and analysis that is new to market. You can survey your audience and publish your findings. You can engage a specialized agency to undergo rigorous testing on your behalf – utilizing the end product across marketing channels and media. This also goes a long way to establishing yourself as a thought leader in your specific space(s).
  4. An authoritative site is trusted by others. It is all well and good writing the best blog in the world but if nobody sees it, does it have authority? Following the publishing of a blog piece it is then important to conduct manual outreach to other sites, brands and businesses. You want those other sites to use your piece in their own insights and analysis as a hyperlink or reference. To go back to the above point, if you have conducted excellent research with fascinating end-product data, chances are, media and relative brands will want to use your findings. Thus, the cycle of authority and thought leadership is oft self-sustaining.

Delivering Trust:

  1. Of all the metrics and approaches, the notion of trust is almost certainly the most important as regards all-round business growth and efficacy of method. The first thing you should do is ask yourself the question “how can I prove myself and create a natural, genuine sense of trust between me, my audience, and Google?” Your first port of call should be to ascertain and/or showcase your industry specific business qualifications, certifications and accreditations. These are vast and varied by nature but can cover things such as health and safety, ISO specifications, quality control (QC) and even badges that show users how you encrypt data or ensure safe payment methods.
  2. Award wins and recognitions. If you have won awards for your excellent business practices, campaigns or for a specific project –shout about them! Winning awards and being recognized for your work is one of the best and quickest ways to build trust between you as a business, search engines and your users. If you haven’t won any awards just yet, start applying for some. If you’re in the tech industry, check out our list of the best tech awards to enter.  If you’re an energy company reading this, we’ve got you covered. Browse our comprehensive list of energy awards to enter.
  3. Case studies are key when it comes to trust building. The more descriptive you can be with your case studies the better. Offer insight and commentary on the work you did, the relationship you created, and the results you achieved. Breakdown data and statistics, be clear, up-front and honest about any challenges you encountered. It is important to include a testimonial from the client, a review snippet or a measure of insight from their side. You should also link to the website in question if applicable – cementing the relationship to search engines. You should also segment your case studies for clear access; utilizing menu grouping, unique URL paths and breadcrumbs. Grouping all of your case studies in a bunch together is hard to interpret but creating “SEO case studies” and “PPC case studies” groups makes life easy for potential SEO and PPC clients respectively. You want these case studies front and center, easy to read; concise and valuable.
  4. Fact check all content and keep it evergreen. Dated content no longer functions in our fast paced environment. I wouldn’t trust an SEO strategy blog dated to 2018, or even 2020, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either! Please also keep dates out of URLs, they don’t belong there! I believe it also goes without saying, but don’t include anything in your content or marketing that you cannot prove to be true.
  5. You can’t trust what you don’t know. An about us page is something that is perhaps arduous to create but is truly worthwhile. Users want to know who you are. Google wants to know who you are. Go further and showcase your history, the people that made your business, your mission statement, values and purpose – provide a timeline, or an interview with the company founders. Do all you can to show the world your business is made of real people with real passions that can be trusted by virtue of their openness and capacity for honesty.
  6. Engage with review sites across the web. EEAT is not just site-specific, its impact escapes and encompasses the entire web. Therefore, it is imperative that you engage with multiple review sites and aggregators. That means having a presence on e.g. Trustpilot, Clutch, Review.io, industry specific reviews sites and more if you can. Google reviews are perhaps the most crucial, but it does not mean that others should be overlooked. When it comes to review harvesting and prompting be sure to encourage (as stated above!) honesty and clarity on process. But also try to secure service specific language and deep insights into a product or experience. You want to create a sense of relativity, allowing your potential new audience to put themselves in the shoes of your current audience. Lastly on this, you must directly address all negative reviews, no matter how time-costly this is. This shows you’re a genuine, trustworthy business that cares about how people perceive it.
  7. A final but interconnected point on testimonials. Where possible, insert these into relative pages. Testimonials that extol the virtues and value of a service, placed onto that service page, will work wonders for your conversion rate and for the right reasons at that.

To conclude

As I said, EEAT is BIG. But it is worth getting your head around. It represents for me, and for Aspectus, the evolution of SEO and the future of AI and LLM performance. Businesses that fail at EEAT, will fail as we transition. But that ought not be a negative. EEAT means building connections with your audience. It represents a freedom and creativity to engage and to be exciting. It’s a celebration of authenticity and expertise; a showcase of your experience. It’s about showing the world who you are, what you do, why you do it and what drives you forward.  EEAT isn’t just the next big thing; it’s the foundation for enduring success on search engines. It’s an invitation to create content that’s as real as it is relevant, as personal as it is powerful. Get in touch with me today to discuss how we can help you achieve SEO success through EEAT implementation.  

Key Takeaways:

What is Google’s E-E-A-T?

Google’s E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, a framework crucial for SEO success, emphasizing credible and quality content.

How does E-E-A-T impact SEO and digital marketing?

E-E-A-T directly influences organic search rankings by rewarding content that demonstrates genuine expertise, authoritative sources, and trustworthiness, along with the author’s personal experience in the subject matter.

Why should businesses focus on E-E-A-T?

Focusing on E-E-A-T ensures that businesses create content that truly resonates with their audience, establishing a strong, trustworthy online presence that drives organic growth and customer loyalty.

How can incorporating E-E-A-T into content strategy benefit a business?

Incorporating E-E-A-T into a content strategy significantly boosts a business’s online credibility and authority, leading to better search rankings, increased trust among users, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.

What role does ‘Experience’ play in the updated E-E-A-T framework?

The addition of ‘Experience’ to the E-E-A-T framework highlights the importance of personal anecdotes and firsthand knowledge in creating relatable, authentic content that resonates with audiences and demonstrates genuine understanding.

Why is E-E-A-T considered foundational for future SEO and AI performance?

E-E-A-T is foundational because it aligns SEO practices with the evolving capabilities of AI and machine learning, ensuring that content not only meets current standards of relevance and quality but is also prepared for future technological advancements in search algorithms.

About the author:

I have been working in SEO and strategic marketing services for over 8 years now. My experience is an even split between in-house roles at start-ups and agency roles at some of the UK’s biggest PR and digital agencies. I am based in East London having moved down from Essex 5 years ago. Professionally, I am a proud advocate for EEAT and SEO and the genuine business benefits of integrated service adoption. Personally, my heart is in the Lake District and nature. Podcasts are my jam and coffee is my addiction.

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Communication and compliance: how regtechs can stand out in a growing market

By Arthur Instone, Financial Services

Regulatory technology – or ‘regtech’ – is one of the fastest growing areas of fintech. The global size of the regtech market is projected to increase from $9 billion in 2022 to $70 billion by 2032, with annual spending on regtech solutions expected to reach £200 billion by 2028. KPMG has highlighted regtech as a “particularly hot sector”, driven by impending regulatory changes which are set to make 2024 one of the most significant regulatory years in recent history.

The regtech movement is well and truly underway, promising to disrupt the regulatory landscape through innovative solutions to the ever-increasing demands of compliance.

As the value of regtech crystallises around the globe, now is the time to assess the forces driving sector growth and how a carefully thought-out compliance PR strategy can help regtechs communicate their value in an increasingly saturated market.

Innovation spurred by regulatory change

For those of us that follow the world of financial services regulation, we know that things don’t exactly move at lightning speed.

However, 2024 is set to hold a uniquely busy regulatory calendar. The next 12-18 months will be a period of sea change, with several landmark regulations coming into effect across a range of different financial sectors. These include:

Banking – In 2024 banks will need to step up their preparations for the remaining Basel reforms, with implementation set for January 2025 and July 2025 in the EU and UK respectively. UK banks also have until May 2024 to implement the Prudential Regulation Authority’s principles for model risk management.

Insurance – In addition to the phased implementation of Solvency UK which fully takes effect from December 31 2024, insurers will also need to navigate the final policy decisions on the global Insurance Capital Standard (ICS) before it kicks in as a Prescribed Capital Standard (PCS) from 2025.

Regulatory reporting – There are changes to global regulatory reporting regimes this year, including modifications to version 3.2 of the CFTC Rewrite and final implementation of EMIR Refit in April 2024.

Payments – By 7 October 2024, payment service providers must comply with the Payment System Regulator’s (PSR) new mandatory reimbursement requirements for APP fraud and scams, meaning firms will be against the clock to meet the deadline.

Operational Resilience – There is now just under a year left until the EU’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) comes into effect. From January 2025, firms must follow new rules for the protection, recovery and repair of ICT-related incidents.

Collectively, these changes have pushed regulatory compliance to the top of the agenda. According to Grant Thornton, 65% of regulated firms anticipate more regulatory obligations in 2024. With institutions under pressure to meet fast-approaching deadlines, the appetite for regtech solutions is growing.

It’s estimated that regtech will account for over 50% of global compliance budgets by 2026, whilst a 2023 survey by Finastra found that the need to align more closely with compliance needs was the third biggest motivator amongst banks to integrate third-party tech solutions.

Communication is king

Regtech is set to play a central role in compliance strategies over the year ahead, but the sector still needs to overcome several challenges: none more so than communication.

One of the key challenges that regtechs face is getting their voices and value heard. The 2021 Global City RegTech report found that a huge 67% of financial institutions cite lack of awareness regarding the available solutions as the biggest barrier to regtech adoption. The same Grant Thornton report found that 13% of regtechs cite promotion and marketing as the single most important factor that would help them expand internationally.

In an increasingly crowded market, how can regtechs cut through the noise to communicate their offering when selling into the regulatory space?

  1. Demonstrate value and differentiation – Sector growth means greater competition as more players seek to get a piece of the action, meaning the challenge lies in ensuring a unique value proposition. For many regulated firms, regulation has become increasingly complicated in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, as regulatory frameworks aimed at spreading risk have at times made the task of compliance more complex. Regtechs looking to get their voices heard should home in on these specific pain-points, putting themselves in the shoes of their customers and focusing on how technology can help.
  • Be direct and simple – Regulation can be complicated to say the least. The sector is saturated with compliance-specific jargon and terminology which can be difficult to understand, with regulated entities often suffering from ambiguous and overlapping rules. This is why it’s so important that regtechs keep things simple when it comes to how they communicate; their customers are navigating regulatory mazes that are themselves a huge operational burden. We often see phrases like “improved efficiency” and “streamlined process”, but what do these actually mean? Regtechs should use their marketing and communication channels to clearly highlight the tangible benefits of their solution, such as cost and time-savings.
  • Engage in public debate – The good thing about the jam-packed regulatory calendar over the next 12-18 months is that there is a lot to talk about! As new regulations come into effect, and existing ones are updated, regtechs should get involved in the discussion. Are firms sufficiently prepared for EMIR Refit? How does DORA compare to the UK’s approach to operational resilience? Are the PSR’s new reimbursement requirements enough to tackle the fraud epidemic? Regtechs should build meaningful campaigns around the industry’s top regulatory issues, and most importantly, have an opinion on them.

Aspectus has been building regtech reputations for over a decade. Our regtech PR team has the perfect blend of regulatory, financial services and capital markets expertise, with a laser sharp focus on making sure we’re one step ahead of the regulatory news cycle. We know which regulations are on the horizon, what they mean for regulated entities and have long-standing relationships with journalists who trust us to collaboratively work with them in shaping their stories.

The demand for regtech solutions will grow significantly throughout 2024 and beyond. As regulation and technology become more closely integrated, it is vital that regtechs are on the front foot when it comes to building brand trust and credibility. To find out more how Aspectus can support you on this journey, get in touch here.

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