Thought Leadership for Tomorrow 2024: Master Thought Leadership with the 4 Rs LEARN MORE

The Four Rs – Why Thought Leadership is a ‘Must-Do’ for the Financial Services Sector

The financial services sector is undergoing seismic changes in how it operates, presents its products, and how it understands its role in the world.

Fintech, open banking, and AI are disrupting the market. The global economy is volatile, reacting to trade conflicts, direct conflicts, the pandemic and the climate crisis – all of which present challenges for the sector and a new imperative to act.

Thought leadership can help the sector, and the businesses and customers that use them, to navigate these challenges.

We produced Leading Lights: Focus on Financial Services to explore financial sector attitudes to thought leadership – and why it matters that the sector engages in it.

Thought leadership drives the 4 Rs – Revenue, Reputation, Relationships and Real-world Impact – and financial services thought leaders will reap important rewards.

One: Revenue rewards

The financial services industry is highly competitive, with numerous players offering similar products and services. Thought leadership allows companies to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage.

When we interviewed the CMO of a major FinTech company for the report, they were clear on the commercial value of thought leadership in a crowded market:

“Thought leadership is important for brand awareness; but it is just as crucial for generating and converting high-quality leads.”  

By sharing unique insights, research, and perspectives, financial services firms can stand out, demonstrate their value proposition, and attract clients who align with their thought leadership approach. This, in turn, drives business growth.

Thought leadership that is nuanced, data-rich, insightful and problem-solving can earn more reads, links and shares and be favourably placed in Google searches, driving more traffic to your website or microsite and creating more leads.

In our research, 52% of digesters of thought leadership said thought leadership content increased revenue. 54% said it differentiated them from the competition.

When creators of thought leadership were asked how it affects their revenue, 69% said through lead generation, and 49% said through customer conversations and prospect building (Source: Leading Lights: Focus on FS).

Two: Reputational capital

Trust and credibility are paramount in the financial services sector. Clients and customers want to work with institutions they perceive as reliable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. And that’s particularly true after the 2007-8 financial crisis.

All institutions have to contend with misinformation, including the financial sector. Tackling ‘fake facts’ is vital to ensure the financial services sector can function effectively.

Thought leadership plays a vital role in managing misinformation. In our research on thought leadership in the financial services sector, 88% of digesters said thought leadership was an effective way to combat misinformation as part of a broader strategy (Source: Leading Lights: Focus on FS).

Thought leadership allows financial services companies to demonstrate their expertise, knowledge, and experience. By consistently sharing valuable insights and thought-provoking content, they can establish credibility and earn the trust of their target audience.

The majority of those surveyed (57%) said research-led content was trusted the most, followed by publisher-led articles (creators at 31% and digesters at 24%).

Consultancy-led content is not trusted as a content type, being favoured by only 12% of creators and 15% of digesters (Source: Leading Lights: Focus on FS).

Three: Relationship building

Financial services for B2B and B2C clients alike involve long-term relationships, whether it’s with individual investors, businesses, or institutional clients. Thought leadership provides an opportunity to engage with clients beyond transactions and build deeper relationships. Financial services companies can foster loyalty and become trusted partners throughout their clients’ financial journeys by offering valuable insights, advice, and solutions.

Our research found that 55% of financial sector creators of thought leadership, and 51% of financial sector digesters (or consumers) of thought leadership, believe it increases customer loyalty (Source: Leading Lights: Focus on FS).

Thought leadership can help customers:

  • Navigate emerging financial services technologies like AI, therefore aiding decision-making.
  • Show sustainability engagement, driving trust and revenue.

89% of financial services leaders say that it is imperative that their firm is seen as sustainable by customers and partners. 49% say acting on sustainability will drive new customers (Source: How Sustainable is the Technology Sector).

Four: Real-world impacts

The financial services industry is heavily regulated, with frequent updates and changes to regulations, particularly as the rate and scale of challenges from geopolitics, climate change, and technology grow.

Thought leadership can help financial services companies stay ahead of these regulatory changes and provide guidance to their clients. They can position themselves as knowledgeable partners in navigating regulatory complexities by keeping their audience informed about compliance requirements, potential impacts, and best practices.

Research by KPMG revealed that financial sector leaders perceived the top three global disruptors as:

  • Emerging financial technologies – FinTech (57%)
  • Growing global regulatory complexity (51%)
  • New business models (46%)
  • Increased cyber threats and data security breaches (33%)

“Original research keeps financial institutions on top of changes and trends as they’re happening. It forces us to dig deeper into our target markets and their needs.” Yogesh Shah, CEO iResearch Services (Source: Forbes).

Moreover, thought leadership allows financial services companies to contribute to the innovation and advancement of the sector and organisation.

In our research, 43% of digesters of thought leadership said it demonstrates innovation (Source: Leading Lights: Focus on FS).

Armed with research-led thought leadership, financial and professional services firms can shape industry conversations, challenge existing norms, and drive positive change by sharing innovative ideas, emerging trends, and forward-thinking strategies. Thought leadership helps position the sector as leaders and innovators within the financial services landscape.

The story of thought leadership is one of problem-solving – to identify the challenge and provide a compelling solution.

Read our research on thought leadership in financial services and find out how you can drive the 4 Rs, guided by our trusty thought leadership superheroes.

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