Decision Marketing Data Clinic: Financial services 2.0

DM ClinicIn the latest in a series of articles, designed to provide advice on data-driven marketing strategies in these turbulent times and beyond, we take a second look at the financial services sector.

The Decision Marketing Data Clinic, in association with REaD Group, is open to all companies and organisations big and small. If you have a burning issue which you would like advice on please email us on

How do we ensure we identify vulnerable consumers, in line with the Financial Conduct Authority’s (incoming) requirements?
The world has changed dramatically since Covid, with less face-to-face contact and a corresponding increase in digital services. At the same time, many individuals are newly suffering from financial difficulties. In 2018, the FCA’s Financial Lives survey found that half of all adults display one or more indicators of being vulnerable: today, that figure is likely to be even higher.

It is not surprising then, that the FCA had been looking to embed an approach to treating vulnerable customers fairly before the pandemic, issuing guidance in February 2020, designed to give firms greater clarity and explain what they need to do to ensure that vulnerable consumers are treated fairly and consistently.

The FCA’s aim was to shift the conversation away from whether the right boxes have been ticked to achieve compliance to encouraging firms to ask what their vulnerable customers’ needs are, and how they are then responding to deliver good outcomes.

More than ever, retail banking institutions need to be ensure they are targeting all their customers appropriately, especially the vulnerable ones. The data exists to help them do just that. Since April 2020, REaD Group data partner More Metrics has made available datasets that estimate Covid risk factors and infection rates across the UK at a neighbourhood level. These datasets contain 20 different measures of risk at a range of local geographies, using open source and GDPR-compliant data from REaD Group. We have made this data available at postcode level and modelled across 50 million individual consented consumers.

Not only can this data give you a greater insight into your customer base at local and national level, enabling you to maximise marketing and sales opportunities and operational efficiencies, you can now add to this the fundamental requirement of post-Covid communications: communicating appropriately with vulnerable and potentially vulnerable customers.

What risks are there in not cleaning our data?
The risks of sending out communications to deceased or goneaway individuals are well known and well documented. At its very worst, mailing a deceased individual causes unintentional and unnecessary distress to family members and potential damage to your reputation. And, on a day-to-day basis, customers receiving financial mail that is addressed to a previous occupant causes concern over whether their address and personal details are being used fraudulently.

Sending mail to old addresses risks the reputation of your organisation. At best, the receipt of mail addressed to someone not currently at the address will be the cause of irritation – and risks your mailing becoming a regular feature in the recycle bin. At worse, it is the cause of anxiety around address misuse and identity theft.

There should be no excuse for sending out communications, whether to deceased individuals or to customers who have moved away. The biggest frustration of this scenario is that it is very easily avoided if the right data management practices are in place. Keeping data clean and accurate has never been more important or easier to implement. Not only do customers expect that the data you hold for them is accurate, up-to-date, and compliant, but the law requires it, and at the end of the day, it delivers massive cost savings and better ROI and reduces the risk of brand damage.

A key part of maintaining the quality of the consumer data you hold is the identification and suppression of individuals who have moved from the address you have in your database, using a credible suppression file such as the Gone Away Suppression (GAS) file, while deceased screening ensures the efficient removal of anyone who has passed away from your marketing databases.

How can we improve our marketing campaigns and increase ROI?
Data is the answer! Data enables you to personalise your marketing campaigns and in turn increase ROI. Personalisation should be a basic hygiene factor in customer engagement now. And this isn’t just about knowing a name and salutation but about using the data you hold sensibly, sensitively, and accurately.

Using data on customer lifestyle and interests, you can build a relationship by ensuring that the engagement is relevant and helpful, and which will therefore increase a response and hopefully engender trust.

How can we drive engagement with existing and lapsed customers?
Our data allows you to add financial-specific variables which you can select or append to retail or re-engage with customers, e.g., financial products owned, investment activities, affluence indicators, high net worth, disposal income, spending behaviour and so on.

It also allows us to engage with customers at different life-stages, those that influence their financial decisions and planning, such as buying a house or having children. Home mover indicator data and presence of children data can help inform better communications with existing and/or lapsed customers.

How can we reconnect with customers we’ve lost contact with?
Reconnecting with customers not only re-establishes a valuable relationship, but it ensures you are delivering and maintaining the highest levels of anti-fraud and security measures. With a meticulous and stringent cleaning service, you can filter your data through bereavement, gone-away and relocation suites monthly to offer complete and comprehensive data assurance. Ensuring that customer data is as accurate and up-to-date as possible will enable you to reconnect with relocated customers, so that you can continue to deliver excellent customer service, important account updates and counter against potential fraud risks.

Elle Engley is a financial services account director at REaD Group

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