When the bulls and the dragons meet 10 November 2015

On November 8th, the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Financial Cooperation Conference opened in London, convening more than 400 government, business and academic leaders from 22 Asian and European countries.



In his keynote address, former Vice Premier of China and Vice Chairman of the BFA, ZengPeiyan, emphasised the connectivity between the two continents and how the two complementary financial systems will see a trend emerging for financial organisations to cooperate – with financial markets in Asia learning from more advanced economies and the sector in Europe eager to tap into overseas markets.

There are clearly big changes underway across the financial sectors globally, and what we are now seeing as a result of meeting the challenges and opportunities that change creates is a marked increase in the number of companies that are focusing on increasing brand awareness and improving their engagement and communications with stakeholders. Many are investing in developing their go-to-market approach and focusing on a client-centric strategy, taking bold and innovative approaches to both their internal and external communications.

Strong brand positioning is critical and it’s fair to say that firms without a distinctive brand and culture risk fading in the background and, ultimately, disappearing.

Our recent work with Asia’s leading investment bank, Nomura, demonstrates the impact of focusing on raising brand awareness globally can successfully create opportunities outside Asia and benefiting from the financial co-operation that ZengPeiyan mentioned in his address. The integrated and highly targeted campaign that we delivered for Nomura significantly raised the bank’s awareness amongst its target audiences globally, producing outstanding results in relation to stakeholder engagement and, ultimately, increased revenues. Most importantly Nomura succeeded in reinforcing the relevance of its brand promise ‘Connecting Markets East and West’.

And, it’s not just financial firms that see the benefit in strengthening ties – legal and professional services firms, amongst others, are also seeking to raise their profile within Asia and outside. They face the same client-centric brand and communications challenges, developing considered strategies and using both traditional marketing channels as well as their digital presence to grow their brand footprint.

Our Living Ratings of firms within the legal, financial and professional services sectors show clear trends towards strengthening brand position and having an outward-looking, client-centric, approach designed to resonate and connect with target audiences globally. Our research shows that firms are striving to develop original and inspiring content to support their prospecting and marketing activity, fuelling social media channels, enhancing marketing tactics, and using substantive content to deliver value.

Leading companies are also increasing looking towards technology to support delivery and measurement of their brands and content. We have seen continued growth in the adoption of enterprise-level content management systems such as Sitecore, EPiServer or Ektron. Powerful tools that allow firms to be fleet of foot with their content and marketing strategies and are fully integrated with their CRM systems, allowing marketers to analyse every send, read, click and download.

Firms are investing in marketing campaigns that engage with global audiences, using a variety of integrated marketing tactics to engage with audiences, regardless of geography, to drive debate and surface new opportunities with prospective and existing clients.

Social media use by financial and professional firms in Asia has risen dramatically, with many firms understanding that a strong profile on LinkedIn or Twitter, Facebook is just as important as a good website. In this brave new world, campaigns must also be mobile-friendly to match the needs of an audience that is often on-the-go.

With over 75% of adults in Hong Kong (78% in UK) accessing the internet using their mobile every day – financial and professional services firms need to make sure they don’t fall behind and respond to this trend.
At the moment, our research shows that 42% of investment banks fail.

The brave and the bold – firms that thin about their clients’ needs – will survive and thrive. Questions like, “How can we help you?” “What else can we do for you?” and “Did you know we did this?” are more likely to get a response than statements like “We are a big bank.” or “We are a big, global, law firm!

As geographic markets become closer and firms continue to globalise, so the need to have strong, recognisable, brand presence and effective means of engagement with diverse audiences will increase.

For Asia based firms seeking to reach out to Europe or other global markets, or for European companies seeing to find new opportunities with Asia it is vital that they invest in their brand, and use their websites and digital channels to get their messages across.

It will be time and money well spent.



David King

Group Marketing Director