Is fintech still “stuck in Shoreditch”? … (and the role of fintech marketing in growth)

Why the simplification of financial services that characterises fintech must be paired with crystal clear fintech marketing and communications

By Alex Knight, Financial Services Senior Account Manager, Aspectus Group.

Ah, fintech… just when you think the hype is subsiding, it outdoes itself. The latest figures from Innovate Finance show that UK fintech saw a record $11.6 billion investment last year, an increase of 217% on 2020.

As the market goes from strength to strength, the government has looked to foster the ecosystem, which it outlined in the Kalifa Review. Published a year ago on 26th February 2021, the first few lines read:

“…for many, the image of fintech is stuck in Shoreditch, an area of East London populated by start-ups and coffee shops catering to the mythologised young laptop entrepreneurs of ‘Silicon Roundabout’.”

As someone who has worked in the industry for five years, I can’t help but ponder this (as I sit by Old Street with my laptop in front of me, coconut latte in hand): is fintech stuck in Shoreditch?

…No! Allow me to explain.

Outdated mythology

This image of fintech was on the way out even when the report was written. Don’t get me wrong, northeast London remains home to many fintechs, but the sector has come a long way and is no longer seen as an alternative, underground movement run by tech hipsters, as the quote implies.

The reality is that fintech simply isn’t on the fringes of financial services anymore. Granted, it wasn’t long ago that people discredited the abilities of challenger banks and considered blockchain start-ups irrelevant, but that is no longer the case and most people are benefitting from new financial technology in some capacity.

Today, not only have some of the biggest names in fintech gone global but – in fear of the competition – traditional banks worked hard on their digital capabilities over the last few years.

As a result, the average person is now more familiar with what fintech is and its role in the economy. So much so, a few weeks ago my mum’s friend quietly advised, “I’d stay in that fintech game if I were you.”

Stuck in Shoreditch? Certainly not. Fintech has gone well and truly mainstream.

Shoreditch, and beyond!

That said, UK fintech clearly still has lots of room for growth. So, in the spirit of Kalifa, how can UK fintech expand further beyond Shoreditch?

Looking at startups, there is still a lot of innovation coming through the ranks. I continue to come across businesses and think “That’s a cool idea. There’s value in that.” But these firms need to make the case for their business. While investors are clearly looking for investment opportunities, it’s a crowded space and it’s therefore hard to stand out.

Whether firms are looking to build their client base or secure investment, firms make sure they know how to communicate with the relevant stakeholders and should not neglect to invest in setting up a slick website, creating social media pages and building a media profile. That credibility can go a long way.

For more established businesses, the challenge is to scale, which the Review talks a lot about. But fintechs have long had challenges when it comes to onboarding or cross selling. I would even argue that the Kalifa Review is missing a fintech marketing and communications section.

Those in the sector must not only raise awareness of new services but be crystal clear in the benefits they can bring to users. Firms ultimately have to convert the disinterested and sceptical, for which impactful communications are essential.

Simplifying finance

One of the most impressive things about Fintech is how it is simplifying finance.

Historically, financial services was complex and confusing, leaving it in the hands of a select few experts. But fintechs are doing away with the arcane, esoteric and inefficient old-school, and replacing it with a simple, slick and quick new school. Gradually financial services is becoming more accessible, which is giving people more direct control to realise their financial goals.

But that simplification has to trickle down to the fintech marketing. The fintechs that have REALLY succeeded are the ones that have a simple message that resonates. That marriage of radically simple product proposition with radically simple (which isn’t to say basic) communications is what works. In that way, the ability to articulate the benefits to clients clearly is critical to the growth of the sector.

After all, we all stand to benefit from a thriving fintech sector. The competition it has inspired is already transforming our financial lives, which is having an increasingly large impact. It can mean better mortgage rates, intuitive and simple investment tools, tailored insurance packages, quick and effortless payments, no rip-off transfer fees… generally healthier and hassle-free finances. I look forward to seeing what the next five years have in store.

At Aspectus, we’ve done Fintech marketing since before it was a buzzword. Get in touch if you’d like to hear what we can do for your business.

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