Content is king, but its maintenance is rarely seen as an exciting endeavor. Still, in financial services, content management has a special place and an extra layer of urgency as, in contrast to unregulated industries, it carries the weight of regulatory obligation and legal responsibility.
The ultimate purpose of financial content management is to regularly inform customers and help organizations stay compliant with regulations while efficiently delivering content to engage prospects and clients.
Creating and distributing relevant, meaningful content that will attract, engage and retain customers can be an overwhelming undertaking in the best of times, but in regulated communication, where compliance dictates legally binding content, updates can take a particularly overwhelming form.
Fortunately, digital technology offers a solution. To achieve marketing objectives, organizations need to make sure that they apply processes underpinned by tools that align efforts across departments to deliver impactful and compliant content.
Ways to improve marketing efficiencies while minimizing cost and effort
Marketers in highly regulated industries such as financial services face the unique challenge of reconciling requests for creating relevant, engaging, customer-friendly content while also adhering to strict compliance regulations, which requires financial institutions to regularly report to customers and/or the public, ensuring they receive the latest information about their financial products. This requirement results in the relentless grind of constant updates of an immense amount of content related to financial products, which must be updated on either a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis.
For example, regulations require mutual funds to update all of their factsheets quarterly, which can translate to hundreds of updates every three months. As the quarter-end nears, the frantic wheels of comprehensive cross-organizational content maintenance set in motion, as the marketing team sets out to coordinate updates with internal marketing partners and other key stakeholders to ensure that these activities are prioritized and executed accurately and on time.
More often than not, this includes painstakingly slow communication involving endless back and forth conversations as marketers chase updates from product management, operations, legal/compliance teams and other stakeholders, each with their own schedules and set of priorities.
This type of inefficient workflow costs money, time and other valuable resources. Instead, financial services organizations can take actionable steps and employ a variety of digital tools at their disposal to streamline content updates and unlock value in regulated communication.
Utilize collaboration tools to facilitate communication
Digital technologies offer online, seamless, integrated and intuitive solutions that help financial services align the efforts and leverage knowledge across the organization to design and execute on marketing projects effectively and under tight deadlines.
These digital tools can be narrow in scope, focusing on a limited range of activities and covering a single aspect of the workflow, such as document review software that allows an automated review of documents and quick extraction of relevant information. But they can also be comprehensive platforms, such as enterprise-wide document management or marketing resource management, which allow organizations to consolidate their marketing resources in a single unified system for all marketing assets.
The following are the most critical activities where these digital tools can help:
Centralize data by content type —Financial services organizations manage data stored on multiple platforms and databases and employ a myriad of IT solutions across different products and services. As data often comes from various internal sources and stakeholders, it is delivered in discordant, inconsistent formats — from emails, documents, spreadsheets and shared drives. Collecting, organizing, harmonizing and utilizing that content is a real challenge. Yet, it is essential for time and cost savings, as well as for building and maintaining a coherent brand image while meeting regulatory requirements. Digital solutions specially designed for content management allow organizations to integrate content from different platforms and databases, enabling the marketing department to work from a single platform while managing contributions from internal team members and other stakeholders within the organization. This means fewer back-and-forth conversations and fewer delays since the central repository serves as a single source of truth for all individuals involved in content creation and updates.
Automate audit, review and proofing of content— Financial organizations are typically highly complex entities, which often means slow, complicated editorial approval chains. Fortunately, as much as they exert a lot of organization-wide effort, compliance-related content updates occur on a predictable schedule, involve routine updates of content known in advance and require the participation of people known in advance. As such, these activities are perfect for automation — if conducted in a digital environment. With so many stakeholders involved in writing, updating and approving the content, automated proofing and approval tools, and document review software are essential. In addition, digital document management services capture documents digitally and ensure they are archived in accordance with all relevant regulatory requirements. These digital team collaboration tools enable organizations to streamline approval chains and expedite their sign-off process to ensure rock-solid regulatory compliance and brand consistency, reducing admin and unlocking value through productivity gains.
Utilize project management tools for better accountability, reliability and time management — Online project management tools allow organizations to allocate tasks and resources, set approval lines, manage stakeholder feedback and collaborate more effectively, securing enhanced accountability, reliability and time management. They help break down walls between departments to facilitate communication and collaboration between marketing and other internal stakeholders to deliver day-to-day tasks, such as content maintenance and regulatory updates, and develop and execute a content marketing strategy. By centralizing all project activities, these digital tools provide visibility into priorities, thus improving productivity and streamlining the approval workflow processes with automated auditing for the brand and regulatory compliance of all content assets.
Changes in financial services amid COVID-19
The pandemic transformed the way we work, as millions of workers have relocated from corporate offices to their homes. It is estimated that almost half of the U.S. workforce now work from home full-time, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
The impact of digital work is already palpable. Recent research conducted by the Harvard Business School, and covering more than three million people across 16 cities in America, Europe and the Middle East, found that employees have been attending more meetings (up by 13%), sending more emails (13.5%) and working longer hours (8.2%) since the shift to working from home due to the pandemic. In contrast, the study found that the duration of meetings has decreased by 11.5%.
In an environment where most businesses are operating on a work-from-home basis, and an increasing number of companies are planning to do so for an extended time, digital communication needs between employees will only intensify. As such, managing digital workflows effectively will become more and more critical for organizations.
As the ability to support remote work becomes an imperative, solutions enabling digital workplaces are becoming essential. Although personal interaction boosts creativity and ensures social glue between employees, an effective, collaborative digital work environment can also foster a stronger sense of culture and community within the workplace, while enabling quick action during a typical workday in the digital office.
Effective project management solutions are user-friendly, easy-to-navigate online platforms that allow users to schedule, assign and manage tasks at various team levels, create recurring tasks, track time and budgets, and set notifications and reminders. Marketing production management software and automated content management systems help streamline marketing supply chain and manage fulfillment services by enabling dynamic publishing and automated communication.
These benefits feed into sales enablement as the digital solutions provide a cross-functional link between marketing and sales, helping organizations unlock value by providing access to content tools that enable personalized communication and meaningful sales conversations with customers.
Toppan Merrill has supported the financial services industry in the regulated communication space for decades and has a deep understanding of the industry's needs. Our innovative, single-source platform, Toppan Merrill Connect, enables seamless transitions from print to electronic communications, with flexible adaptation to changing regulations to help marketing teams manage regulatory communications securely and efficiently distribute them to clients.
Leverage digital technology to unlock potential in regulated financial communications
Financial services organizations are often burdened with legacy systems and platforms hampering their digitization efforts. As the changes caused by COVID-19 will not quickly be reversed, if ever, organizations are trying to adapt to the new normal. Now is the time to embrace sophisticated digital marketing tools that offer the benefit of multiple features in one comprehensive tool. These solutions will save organizations time and money by streamlining marketing operations and creating efficient workflows and processes while ensuring watertight compliance.
Toppan Merrill leverages more than half a century of experience in financial regulated communication, evolving in step with changing industry needs. We are excited to support financial services organizations through the next chapter of marketing and communication — one powered by forward-thinking digital technology that we can use to expand what's possible.