Why finance is bullish on communicators

Financial institutions want to shed their cutthroat image for a more cuddly one. To do that, many are enlisting agencies or hiring in-house talent to manage external branding.

Driving the news: Edelman launched a boutique agency, Edelman Smithfield, to focus on reputation management for investment firms, private equity and venture capital funds, banks and crypto.

By the numbers: This is an extension of previous attempts to appear softer and more trustworthy — which is an uphill battle, according to Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer.

  • Of those surveyed, 56% distrust financial services and 70% believe the system only favors the rich.

What they’re saying: Edelman Smithfield CEO Lex Suvanto believes communications is an effective tool for companies to increase transparency by explaining their priorities and impact in communities.

  • “People don’t trust what they don’t understand, especially in the financial services industry,” Suvanto told Axios.
  • Christine Anderson, Blackstone’s head of corporate affairs, hopes better marketing can combat the “1990s and 1980s” stereotype of institutional investors and admits, “We probably haven’t done a good job of sharing good stories of how we operate our company.”

What we’re watching: Sharing positive stories isn’t the only selling point. The uptick in shareholder activism and macro shifts in innovation — paired with a volatile market — further support the need for strategic communicators.

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