What is it about the fintech sector that grabbed your attention in the first place?
The introduction of technology to traditional financial services has brought much-needed competition and ultimately led to innovations that have improved, and continue to improve, the financial experiences of businesses and consumers alike. We can now send money internationally to friends and family with guaranteed exchange rates and low fees, or trust an algorithm to choose our investments for us. Each of our financial lives have been made easier and more enjoyable.
It’s hard to ignore the pace at which it started gathering momentum – almost out of nowhere. Suddenly everything that involved fintech was gaining interest from investors and the media. Venture capital and private equity investment in British fintech rose to an all-time high of £2.6bn in 2018, up 18% from 2017.
It sounds strange to say that fintech has huge potential, because we’re witnessing the boom right now, but there is still so much more to come which will benefit businesses and consumers alike, and that’s hugely exciting. It’s also the sheer variety of sectors that it touches and helps to modernise – from banking, payments and billing, to insurance, lending and personal finance to name a few.
In 2018, over £90 trillion was spent in the UK using contactless payments, what key trends do you see taking place in the coming years in the fintech industry?
Further developments in open banking are a certainty. Banking has already become fairer and more transparent for consumers, and the growth and success of challenger banks has fast-tracked product development among traditional banks who cannot get left behind. This year and beyond we will see banks and fintech start-ups continue to work together to give us even more transparency within our day-to-day banking.
Another trend which took off in 2018 and will continue to grow in popularity is investment and money management. Specifically, lowering the barriers of entry to investing for everyday people who have little prior knowledge of it. Robo-advice and digital wealth management are one of the fastest-growing and most talked-about areas of the financial services’ digital transformation. The likes of Wealthify, WealthSimple, Moneyfarm have opened up the route to simple investing, and – particularly relevant as we enter the new tax year – Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISAs) such as Kuflink, Ratesetter and PropLend will only increase the number of people leaving cash ISAs behind and benefiting from favourable interest rates through technology-enabled stocks & shares investment.
Know your audience – your target audience, and the stage your business is at, should be the first thing which determines your PR strategy
Nail your brand positioning – to avoid being seen as just “another fintech start-up”, be crystal clear with a) a clear brand message for each market you operate in, b) clearly defined USPs and c) a value proposition that appeals to key stakeholders
Become an expert commentator – build credibility and authority by becoming an expert commentator in the media through by-lines and reacting to breaking stories
Educate your audience – avoid the hard sell, adopt a more tactical approach by educating your target audience through considered thought leadership that appeals to an helps them
Make sure you have a story to tell – when it comes to interviews, you need a stand-out story in order for a journalist to buy into you. Be clear on the problem you’re solving, a timeline for how you got where you are, some interesting anecdotes and clear growth potential (and don’t hold back on the nitty-gritty details like financials and investment).
You’ve been involved in working on some great accounts in the past, is their one particular highlight?
Delivering the Smarter Working Initiative campaign for our long-standing client PowWowNow three years in a row has been really enjoyable and a great success story for the PHA Technology team. The campaign has longevity and real-world impact, changing the way employers and employees alike think about smarter, more flexible working. To top it all off, the 2017 campaign won Best use of PR at the B2B Marketing Awards.
What sets the tech department at The PHA Group apart from other tech PR agencies?
The way in which we take the time to fully understand and immerse ourselves in each client’s business, to make sure we are fully equipped to communicate their USPs and tell their story effectively with the right messages. We are also extremely transparent, which isn’t always the case with PR agencies – we set ourselves challenging KPIs and offer a data-led approach to measuring success to ensure our clients receive a genuine return on their investment. This is becoming increasingly important in order to stand out in today’s market.
Finally, you’ve been at The PHA Group for over five years now, what’s your golden piece of advice you’d give to any budding PR professionals beginning their career?
I started out at PHA as an intern before starting my permanent role, and I’d encourage anyone beginning their career in PR to get as much experience under their belt as early as possible. There is a lot to learn before you’re ready to thrust yourself into a journalist-facing, client-facing role, and you can hone these skills through a hands-on internship where you’re given the autonomy and responsibility to create your own path. At PHA, if you put a lot into it you will get a lot out of it.