The Financial Sector Agency Roster is Missing Loyalty Expertise: Key Insights from the 2024 Financial Brand Forum

Carissa Dougall


The financial sector faces unique challenges: broad demographic targeting, homogenous product and service offerings, and a saturated market. Traditional strategies for growth—such as new account acquisition, product innovation, and cost management—are increasingly difficult to leverage in such a competitive and highly regulated space. The question then is this: how can FIs sustainably defend and increase their share of wallet while fending off new, emerging competitors?

The TL;DR 

The recent Financial Brand Forum zeroed in on various growth strategies, covering a wide range of topics from innovations in technology to data-driven personalization, and customer-centric transformations to the necessity of a brand’s distinction. However, the event notably overlooked the very real potential that lies in engaging current, known customers through meaningful loyalty initiatives as a driver for growth today, while also remaining foundational for tomorrow’s success.

And while enterprise loyalty was well-discussed at the Forum, there’s a clear distinction between loyalty as a program and loyalty as an outcome. As Bond took the stage, we outlined the difference between the two, and described how to shift organizational mindsets to better take advantage of loyalty sciences in order to cultivate loyal behaviors among existing customers/members—this is not only more cost-effective, but it also delivers greater returns for the business.2-2

FBF: The Key Themes

Bond is an insights-driven, customer engagement company that deepens relationships between brands, their employees, and their customers to drive lasting growth. Employing rigorous methodology, innovative technology, and grounded in Loyalty Science, we assist brands in transforming their business to be more customer-centric, bolstering business outcomes. Through that lens, themes that stood out across the Forum included:

  • Technological advancements and best practices for operational efficiencies
  • Harnessing data to enhance personalization strategies
  • Optimizing lifecycle communications for increased engagement
  • Leveraging brand strategy as a unique differentiator in a uniform industry
  • Humanizing your digital experience to bolster CX and business outcomes

While these themes align with traditional growth drivers (operational savings, increased transaction frequency, and market or wallet share expansion), they neglect one critical element: nurturing existing customer relationships to forge stronger bonds as part of your growth efforts.


Strengthening Loyalty with Known Customers

While FI customers expect competitive rates, security, and stability, there’s an opportunity to shift from a transactional mindset to a relationship-focused one to positively impact business outcomes. The well-established principle that customer retention is more cost-effective than acquisition holds truer than ever, and the pursuit of customer-centricity hinges on fostering emotional connections.

1. The path to loyalty is built on relationships. Not transactions.

While FI customers expect great rates and reliable security, there are few things more personal than money management. Personalization is key, yes, but the greater path to loyalty is forged through emotional connections. A shift from a transactional mindset to a relationship-focused approach in customer engagement can significantly enhance marketing outcomes.

2. Be worthy of loyalty.

Referral marketing is one of the most efficient growth strategies, evidenced by lower acquisition costs, higher conversion rates, and increased customer lifetime value. Focusing on being worthy of loyalty naturally humanizes efforts, enriches customer experiences, and provides meaningful purpose. And this need not be a focus for only your customers; it’s just as effective as part of your employee experience to foster a culture of pride within your brand.

3. Cross-selling begins with the customer. Not the product.

The financial sector is awakening to the benefits of an enterprise-wide approach to loyalty. True opportunity lies in viewing loyalty through the customer’s lens, not from the business’ (AKA, line of business). This approach broadens the loyalty strategy beyond any single product or service by leveraging data to identify the next best customer action and, as a result, deepening your relationship.

4. Customer-centricity is critical in capitalizing on your tech investments.

While technology and data systems play an instrumental role today, the key first step is to unearth and solve the real human challenges at stake. Becky Smith of SECU illustrated this in her presentation on humanizing the digital experiences for the Credit Union’s members. By grounding their digital modernization efforts in very real human needs (across their journey), they effectively reshaped their digital strategy, yielding extraordinary results for the customer experience and the business.

Bond is a proud market leader in developing human-centric growth strategies. Our offerings range from loyalty consultation to product design and go-to-market strategy—all with a human-centric and loyalty science-based approach.

Reach out if you’re looking to dive deeper into Bond’s methodology for fostering loyalty outcomes—we’d love to chat.