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6 internal comms challenges facing the financial services industry — and how to address them

Banking has gone digital, investor meetings are online, and hybrid workforces are distributed across new locations — complicating how corporate communicators in the financial services sector can reach their stakeholders. 

  • Why it matters: As the landscape of the financial sector has shifted, communicators have struggled to keep up, finding their often long-standing companies unwilling or slow to change the status quo and adapt. 

As a result, organizations are facing a myriad of challenges that need to be addressed.

Challenge #1: An old-fashioned approach

Many banks, brokerage firms, credit unions, and other financial institutions have been around for decades — if not longer — and are often afraid to challenge the status quo because key stakeholders don’t see the value in overhauling systems that are still functioning, even if they aren’t thriving. So comms continue to be shared as they always have been, which doesn’t speak to a modern workforce. They’re clunky, inaccessible to those on the frontline, and often far wordier than they need to be. 

The solution:

  • Shorter, smarter comms. Between 60% to 80% of people will scan, not read, what you write, University of Maryland research found. Modernize your comms by eliminating long text chunks in favor of bullet points and other Smart Brevity styling in order to elevate your message. 
  • Opening new comms channels. Modernize your comms approach by implementing an internal communications platform that reaches your employees where they are — whether that’s on the teller line, meeting with applicants, or in the office.  
  • Start tracking metrics. Financial institutions know the importance of numbers, but many older communication methods don’t offer the data tracking comms teams need in order to show their ROI and learn their impact. Start tracking metrics like you would stocks to ensure you’re hitting your numbers.

Challenge #2: Reaching frontline workers

Almost 30% of all employees have a hybrid schedule, and 13% are fully remote. Combine that with organizations made up of frontline employees — like bank tellers and traders — who don’t have continuous access to their email, and communications teams have their work cut out for them. 

The solution: 

  • Use unique solutions. Think outside the box and utilize digital signage, flyers, and announcements to reach traders, loan officers, and others who aren’t sitting at a desk all day.
  • Be consistent. Send company-wide newsletters and team updates at the same day and time each week so deskless workers know exactly when and where they can find the information they seek.

Challenge #3: Data isn’t there

As a result of not modernizing their comms platforms, many institutions lack a baseline to see how their comms are connecting. They can’t measure who is and isn’t opening their messages, and as a result, they can’t figure out who is under informed, misaligned, and missing valuable context. 

The solution: 

  • Upgrade to a new platform. Find an all-in-one solution that makes it easier to send updates while also delivering the metrics you need to see not only the ROI of comms, but how folks are engaging on an individual level. Get that bird’s eye view of if it’s tellers, auditors, underwriters, credit analysts, or others who aren’t engaging so you can better target them in future editions. 
  • Track data. Don’t just monitor the numbers. Seek feedback from employees by running polls and surveys to see what they want to see more and less of.

Challenge #4: There’s no central communications hub

When there’s no central platform for storing, tracking, and sending out communications, it’s easy for employees to get overwhelmed with too many updates from too many sources. Between all-staff sends; divisional comms; executive comms; and updates about new products, offering, or regulations, recipients are getting too many emails. And when that happens, folks tend to skip them, skim them, or ignore them entirely. 

The solution: 

  • Create a central hub. Engage with a platform that shows you all your sends. That way, you can get an all encompassing view of what information is going out, how often it’s being sent, and who’s opening it. And you can see if bosses, branch managers, headquarters, and more are all sending the same message and contributing to clogged inboxes. 
  • Combine repetitive sends. Once you see the volume that’s being sent, you can locate and combine repetitive sends to cut back on inbox overload.

Challenge #5: Addressing difficult topics

Between mergers and acquisitions, layoffs, and inflation, the financial services industry has already seen tough times this year. And that may not change. But institutions are struggling to know what to say, how to say it, and how to share it when it comes to updates on difficult topics. 

The solution: 

  • Use templates. Don’t start from scratch. See how other leading companies handle the changes you’re going through — whether that’s adding a new branch, being acquired, or changing CEOs. 
  • Be transparent. Be as open and honest as you can with employees. The more forthcoming and human you sound, the more likely they are to trust you. 

Challenge #6: Comms platforms are not easy to use 

Many comms platforms are not intuitive enough for the average employee, requiring extra training — if an employee even opts to adopt it all instead of maintaining the status quo. Plus, with many financial institutions still staffed with older generations who struggle with new technology, these legacy systems create a barrier to entry that needs to be addressed. 

The solution:

  • Find better interfaces. User experience matters. Test out tools until you find one that’s easy to navigate for all employees who need to use it. 
  • Connect with your onboarding team. Use the resources at your disposal by reaching out to implementation specialists at the platforms you use. See if there are quick, easy tips to getting started.

The bottom line: It’s only when you have the right tools in your toolbox that you can deliver top-notch comms to your teams when and where they need them. Start investing in the right platform now, and you’ll see a more aligned and informed workforce moving forward. 

Read next: See how to modernize the communications at your financial institution

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