Why Bank CMOs Need to Stick Up for Themselves


  • Digital transformation at financial institutions is a big deal, but CMO’s are often left out of the process, according to research from Forrester.

  • Since marketing is traditionally viewed as a cost-centre against the bottom line, executive teams tend to leave it out and are hesitant to invest in new solutions.

  • What most banks and financial institutions fail to realise is that “experience” is becoming more and more key - and this is clearly the realm of marketing.

  • The future of the CMO is in doubt - it will soon become an all-encompassing roll that includes customer service, technology and product offering.

Financial marketing leaders who want a say in digital transformation must make a case for it. The first step is to establish themselves as the internal 'voice of the customer.' Then they must demonstrate that they too are adapting, and that marketing will also evolve to keep pace with new digital realities.

Groundbreaking research from Forrester has confirmed a long-held suspicion: Marketing leaders are under-represented in digital transformation efforts, if not left out of the loop altogether.

According to the analysts at Forrester, this is a big mistake.

“Digital is a way to create a direct relationship with your customers,” says Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principal Analyst at the research firm. This is ultimately the biggest lesson that financial brands can learn from Amazon and company, he says.

Yet Husson’s report, “CMOs: Define Your Role in Digital Transformation,” finds that marketing leaders often have little to say about the strategy or execution of digital transformation.

“Digital transformation is by nature a very transverse theme that requires attention from the whole C-suite and that should be led by the CEO,” says Husson in an email interview with The Financial Brand. “It is not about digital transformation, but about business transformation.”

Husson says this concept can get lost in all the buzzphrases and talk about this channel, that experience.

Why CMOs Should Play a Central Role in Transformation

“Many CMOs aren’t members of their companies’ executive committees.”
— Thomas Husson, Forrester

Husson says CMOs should be seen as an essential part of making the transformation happen.

“The CMO plays a key role in orchestrating and coordinating experiences across channels and departments,” says Husson. “Instilling brand values and customer experience vision throughout the organization is a game-changer.”

Bringing CMOs into the planning and execution helps a brand avoid too great a focus on technology, scale and cost reduction, which is what can happen when the bean counters and nerds run the transformation process.

Husson points to artificial intelligence and big data to show how this plays out practically.

“The CMO should be the one asking key questions,” he says, “For instance, ‘How can I create trust so that customers want to share data with my company? What data do I truly need to differentiate and personalize the consumer’s experience?'” That focus, pinpointing critical data, is the very opposite, according to Husson, of the urge to sweep every bit of data into a complex, difficult-to-access data-lake infrastructure.

“This is really about being the ambassador and the voice of the customer inside the institution,” says Husson. “During this research, I was surprised by the fact that many CMOs aren’t members of their companies’ executive committees.”


This article originally appeared on The Financial Brand.

Ian Simpson