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To keep up with consumers you need to take a ‘horizontal’ approach

By Sarah Sandford, Planning Director of creative agency isobel

Fintech businesses have completely revolutionised the way consumers go about their financial affairs – few of us can remember a world where we weren’t able to manage our money with a few deft thumb strokes.

But digital financial change-makers need to bear in mind that it doesn’t take much to lose your disrupter cred and blend in with the establishment. So what can this sector, and those looking to enterit, do to stay ahead of the pack?

As people become more accustomed to the digital experience offered by companies like Amazon and Google, they expect the same level of customer satisfaction from their financial services providers.

Sarah Sandford
Sarah Sandford

It’s true that fintech is riding a wave of disruption with solutions that better address customer needs by offering enhanced accessibility, convenience and tailored products. But if you don’t look beyond the confines of your own sector at other successful companies out there, you could be missing a trick.

Fintech businesses can’t afford to forget that with newer and better propositions appearing on the scene continually – and the rising expectations of today’s consumers – what worked a treat yesterday won’t necessarily cut it tomorrow. Your target consumer is already thinking horizontally, and so should you.

Even the big boys are getting involved. Deutsche Bank was in the news recently when it put out a call for 100 enterprises to help it create its data interface, with a view to developing the broadest range of applications possible. Healthcare and fitness, online retail and customer relationship management (CRM) are among the sectors the 150-year-old institution is reaching out to.

When we stop learning, we stop growing. In the early days, we thrive off energy, ideas, the verve of youth. Every day brings new discoveries and, if we build on them, rapid growth. But then, far sooner than we expect, we wake up one morning to discover we’re no longer the sparky, fresh challenger. We’ve become the one that the kids are challenging.

Witha cross-learning approach in mind, Isobel compiled a comprehensive report, which includes ten key lessons from fast-growth companies and outlines the most effective ways that businesses – start-ups and established firms alike – can learn from them.

We talked to founders and C-suite execs from fashion, food and drink, health and wellbeing and technology, including fintech mortgage firm Habito and NHS prescription app Echo. We also talked to 250 marketers from long-established companies to see how they measure up against the new kids on the block.

Key among the learnings was that as businesses become more established they can lose sight of their customers’ needs. Nearly a third of our‘old-school’ interviewees admitted they weren’t particularly customer-centric.

It’s important to work closely with your customers, using feedback to adapt and improve, and building trust with a loyal community who are invested in your product. Monzo has done this brilliantly with its distinctive coral-colored card, buzzy message rooms and Willy Wonka-inspired golden ticket, which fast-tracks wannabe customers to the top of the waiting list.

Understanding your customers and putting their needs first must be a priority. Look at start-up Mush, the mums’ matchmaking app. Its founders, Sarah Heszand Katie Massie-Taylor, saw the need for a forum that addresses parental loneliness while standing in a playground alone… Says Massie-Taylor: “We knew the need, lived the need, breathed the need.” The app has recently been valued at £3.5 million.

Fintech feels a bit like a modern gold rush. It may have been around for a while but it’s really hitting its stride now. Things move fast, though, so thinking outside the box is essential is you’re to truly understand who your consumer is and what they really want.

To download the full Getting Your Mojo Back – Ten Lessons from Fast-growth Companies report by Isobel, click here.