Strolling through the City of London the pace of change is unmistakable, but it is not only the building stock getting a face-lift. As innovations such as the Internet of Things, blockchain and ever-improving FinTech software attract new players to the financial services sector, marketers at the world's largest banks are divided on the best way to tell their story to customers.

It's a fine line between balancing horses and carts and hundreds of years of heritage with the allure of innovation, especially in an industry that's yet to shake off the effects of an almost decade-old financial crisis. As a result, there is a huge amount of new business to be won by marketing agencies targeting this sector.

Challenges (and challengers) on the horizon

Despite banks' best efforts to distance themselves from any culpability in the 2008 financial crisis, their marketing teams are still acutely aware that customers and governments alike are paying close attention to what they get up to. Recently, Fifth Third Bancorp told our research team the fact that the surprise popularity among US Democrat voters for banks to ‘feel the Bern’ is a genuine marketing challenge for the industry. 

This side of the pond, the emergence of challengers such as Metro Bank and First Direct has only added to the burden of those tasked with restoring goodwill among jaded customers. As a result, everyone from Commerzbank to Barclays and Lloyds are looking carefully at marcoms and sponsorship with a view to rebuilding trust and goodwill. 

A fresh start?

Perhaps hoping for a clean slate with those too young to experience the financial crisis first-hand, brands like MBNA are focusing sponsorship on the next generation of consumers. On the other hand, ICAP has deliberately chosen to stay out of the limelight altogether - shying away from the media to protect itself from any negative press tied to the sector.

And then of course we have the in-out hokey cokey of a potential Brexit on the horizon. HSBC and Goldman Sachs have already rattled their sabres about leaving London in recent years - citing fresh tax hits and a changing risk environment - only to make respective u-turns that suggest they are willing to adapt to a potential new economic climate. 

Things are moving faster than ever in the sector, with no consensus over strategy between brands. It's essential therefore for new business teams to maintain a regular dialogue with both clients and prospects in the industry to ensure you are first in line when new briefs - or strategic changes - come to light.

Do you target brands in Asia or the US?

To gauge how different financial services firms across the globe will be looking to differentiate and react to these changes, we interviewed senior marketers at leading commercial banks in Greater China and the US to produce two essential briefings:-

Asia: Finding success in Greater China’s evolving financial services industry - read this briefing

With nearly 200 banks originating from 36 countries and representing 71 of the world’s 100 largest financial organisations, Hong Kong remains a thriving financial hub. For this briefing, we spoke to: BNP Paribas, Nomura, Credit Suisse, OCBC Wing Hang Bank and Citibank

US: Winning work with US financial services brands - read this briefing

The US financial services sector represents 7.2% of the national GDP ($1.26tn) and is also one of the top marketing spenders, with expenditure on digital ads alone expected to grow 14.5% this year to over $7bn. For this briefing we spoke to Credit Suisse, Voya, Webster Bank and Standard Chartered