Communicate with your customers, as though your life depended on it

Nicola Cowburn
Nicola Cowburn
July 5, 2016


Since the unexpected result of the UK’s June 23rd referendum, I have spoken to many of Qumram’s financial services clients and associates, who have shared their views on the pitfalls and opportunities that lie ahead.

Conversations with chief compliance and risk officers, CIOs, marketing VPs, heads of digital and IT, analysts and editors, have featured an interesting mix of sentiments.

  • Shock (whichever way we voted)
  • Speculation (which one of the six or more possible exit strategies will be negotiated)
  • Stoic British resolve (the-public-has-spoken-and-we-will-make-it-work)
  • Concern to protect clients, and their interests – not because a regulator mandates it, but because it is the right thing to do – which is hugely refreshing to hear

In financial services, compliance has been the must win battle that has topped the budget spend and attention league table, for a long time. According to hot-off-the-press CEB research, the compliance and legal aspects of Brexit remain the foremost concern for the C-suite. But how can financial services firms tackle Brexit-related challenges, without neglecting compliance?

Compliance hasn’t gone away, and neither have the regulators. They are still issuing daily penalties, of thousands and millions of pounds, euros and dollars, and binding UK financial services firms to the same execution schedule for upcoming regulations. Brexit has brought no reprieve. But what lies ahead, and how can you prepare?

In this 3-part blog series, I will outline the stand-out strategies that I believe offer the financial services sector the opportunity to leverage Brexit, and make best use of the weeks and months ahead, to increase customer loyalty and boost compliance of your digital business.


Commercially speaking, it’s true! With stock markets in turmoil, nervous investors will seek out safe havens for their money. There’s nothing like a financial ‘shitstorm’ (as the press are calling it) to separate the wheat from the chaff in the relationship management stakes. Those who communicate in a timely, personalized, and relevant way will win through; those who fail to do so will lose clients, and revenues, and will face the lengthy and costly task of onboarding replacement business.

Many have excelled, while others have not. Without doubt, those who have already invested in digital transformation projects, which enable digital self-service, and mass personalization of engaging communications, have reaped the rewards. (A personal shout-out here to Sean Port, CIO @Nutmeg – I invested the minimum sum, 4 months ago, and have received 2 updates within 4 days; unlike my mainstream providers, who are sitting on pension and investment funds accumulated over 27 years, who I have not heard from at all).

Hargreaves Lansdown tripled its dealing and helpdesk staff in preparation for the post-referendum aftermath, which is admirable, but costly. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit, combined with the ongoing, insatiable appetite of customers for more customized and convenient self-service, has led to an immediate surge in demand for digital engagement.

Take as an example wealth management, where high levels of person-to-person relationship management is a hallowed practise. Many providers have been slow to answer the phone, let alone reach out with the offer of personal consultations. So, many high net worth individuals have turned to the wealth manager’s corporate website for advice, and many have been woefully disappointed by the level or quality of information available online.

Brexit has led to a vast increase in website visits, social media activity, and mobile app usage, which many providers have been pitifully unprepared to accommodate, and audit from a compliance perspective. Such firms would be well advised to plug their digital gaps, accelerate digital transformation initiatives, empower employees by recording all digital interactions with clients, and ensure digital compliance without delay. Carpe diem! In doing so you will foster customer loyalty and avoid loss of business.

Read more

Part 2: Use the 100-day breathing space to increase agility and improve your Brexit readiness

Part 3: Scrutinize current systems and take action to cut the cost of compliance

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