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Regulation, inhibitive technology, and rigid organizational structure are the biggest hurdles financial services and insurance (FSI) marketers face today.

That’s according to a recent study by Econsultancy, in partnership with Adobe, which explored the effects of digital disruption on FSI marketers. (Note: Adobe is’s parent company.) The “2017 Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance” report is based on a sample of almost 840 FSI respondents worldwide who took part in the annual survey in November and December.

“The results show a sector that is being driven forward by the rise of fin-tech competition—resulting in innovative new products and brands that put the customer at the heart of their strategy,” according to John Travis, VP of EMEA marketing, at Adobe.

Among the findings:

1. The FSI sector has historically lagged slightly behind other sectors in terms of digital capabilities, particularly insurance. This is still the case; 9% of FSI organisations claimed to be digital-first, compared with 11% across all sectors.

2. FSI is no different from the wider marketing community when it comes to prioritizing customer experience. Targeting, personalization, and customer journey management are the highest priorities for FSI marketers in 2017, with 55% planning to increase investment in personalization in 2017.

3. The quest for a good customer experience means that the content produced needs to be consistent across channels. Seven in 10 (70%) respondents said this consistency is “very important” to their digital marketing efforts over the next few years.

4. It’s clear that the sector understands the need for data-driven marketing and is making it a priority. More than half (53%) of respondents said they are increasing their investment in marketing analytics in 2017.

5. Digital-first organizations are nearly twice as likely to rank data-driven marketing as a top strategic priority (26% vs, 14%), illustrating the importance of data’s role in digital transformation.

6. However, some feel limited by regulation. Compared with last year, the proportion of organizations claiming to have “access and control over customer and marketing application data” remained unchanged at 64%. This is significantly lower than the average 75% across other sectors.

7. Increased team training is needed as organizations attempt to catch up with the newcomers riding on a wave of digital disruption. This is clearly a high priority, with 58% who said training will be “very important” to their digital marketing efforts over the next year.

8. For most FSI businesses, digital is permeating marketing activities in 2017, but only 9% professed to be a digital-first organization.

9. Venture capital (VC) investment in fin-tech grew from $9 billion in 2010 to reach $25 billion globally in 2016.  

10. Seventy-eight percent of FSI marketers said that optimizing the customer journey across multiple touch points is their top priority over the next few years.

11. Improving data analysis capabilities is considered a key element in better understanding CX requirements by 99% of respondents and is “very important” for 72%.

12. Only 4% of FSI marketers see “using artificial intelligence/bots to drive campaigns and experiences” as the most exciting opportunity for 2017.

13. FSI companies are 6% more likely to rank data-driven marketing as a top-three priority than their peers in other sectors (73% vs. 69% in other sectors).

14. Mobile is a top priority for only 8% of FSI companies. A mere 3% prioritized programmatic buying or optimization.

15. Only 5% of FSI respondents regard voice interfaces, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, as the most exciting prospect for 2020. Instead, the majority (33%) believe that AI is going to be the big opportunity in 2020.

Source: CMO