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Key Highlights from the Financial Brand Forum: A Conversation with Stephan Sigaud

In May 2024, Phase 5’s CMO Stephan Sigaud attended The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. This annual financial services industry event attracted over 2,000 attendees and featured keynote speakers from high profile organizations such as PayPal and Nintendo, as well as marketing expert and “Zconomy” author Jason Dorsey.

In addition to the presentations, the event offered workshops, how-to sessions, and of course plenty of opportunity to socialize with like-minded financial services professionals. Upon returning from the event, Stephan was kind enough to share some of the details and takeaways from his experience. Read on to learn more.


Q: Welcome back, Stephan! So tell us, what was your overall impression of this year’s Financial Brand Forum? And in your opinion, what makes this particular industry event stand out from others?

A: First of all, the FB Forum is a really big event, with thousands of people in attendance. It really was the place to be for financial services executives during those few days in May. At the same time, it was really well organized and I believe the attendees appreciated that. It was a good ‘customer experience’ from the beginning, and I felt I was getting the value I had anticipated without the disappointment or fatigue that can sometimes happen at large conferences. I met great people, had thought-provoking discussions, and enjoyed my time there.

The Financial Brand refers to this event as “the world’s most elite conference on marketing, CX, data analytics, AI, and digital growth strategies in the banking industry”, so it’s no surprise that it attracts a crowd. I’m not talking so much about the “elite” part of that description, but more so the tech and data aspects of it. Given the proliferation of new technologies and tech-based solutions that are available to consumers (especially in retail banking), the effective use of advanced technologies and analytics in financial services is an extremely relevant and timely topic. This fact was evident in the Exhibitors Hall where the majority of booths were occupied by technology and/or digital marketing firms.


Q: What were the hot topics or buzzwords that everyone was talking about at this event?

A: These three terms were definitely hot: Personalization, Data-Driven, and Customer Experience.

The ability to leverage data and apply technology to create a personalized and meaningful experience for customers is something that all industry players are working to improve.


Q: Can you share tidbits from any conversations you had with other attendees that were inspired by a particular seminar, or vendor, or theme?

A: I had a few conversations around the need to be careful not to de-humanize the relationship people have with their banks too much. As we (Phase 5) saw in one of our recent studies, there are some aspects of banking where customers prefer to interact with a person vs. technology (and sometimes vice versa).

Loyalty is driven by emotions and people will typically have richer, deeper emotions within the context of a human relationship rather than with a piece of technology. Tech might make your life easier, faster, and more convenient, but those benefits aren’t as effective in driving loyalty (which is something we at Phase 5 know well from our work in loyalty over the years).

So beware if you are a bank! Don’t throw away your human relationships. Maintain the balance between human and machine.


Q: What was the most surprising thing you saw, heard, or learned?

A: The most surprising thing I saw and heard was financial services marketers not speaking the language of their customers. For example, I walked into more than one session focused on how to increase deposits, with slides on screen referring to “deposit gathering”. This perspective seemed a bit self-centred and perhaps even opposed to the customer’s point of view.

What I mean is this: a consumer doesn’t typically think about building up deposits. What’s important to them is having an account so that they can conveniently access money when they need or want it. What’s important to them isn’t getting a loan, it’s getting the car that the loan will be used to purchase. I think that banks need to be careful not to let their own jargon negatively impact their ability to connect based on the true needs of the customer.

It actually reminded me of the Jobs To Be Done framework to which Phase 5’s Head of Analytics, Steve Hansen often refers. One example he cites is that a person typically doesn’t need a ¼” drill, what they need is a ¼” hole. The key takeaway here is to think about products/services, marketing, and experience in terms of the job that a customer needs to do, not the products or solutions you already have to sell.

Thanks again to Stephan Sigaud for sharing some of his thoughts and insights from the recent Financial Brand Forum. To talk to Stephan further, or to explore how Phase 5 can help your organization, contact us.

Written by Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen, MBA, is the President of Phase 5 US and the leader of the firm's Data Analytics practice. With almost 2 decades of experience in client-side marketing strategy, market research, and product management, Steve brings a client’s mindset and drive for actionable results to each project. He has extensive experience in capturing the view “from the outside” with a special focus on product and service innovation. Steve is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.