GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Alexandra Roddy, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Partnerships at Zafin
Alexandra Roddy, CMO and Executive Vice President of Partnerships at Zafin has witnessed several breakthrough bank positionings over the years, she joins us in this Global Fintech Series interview to share some of her thoughts on marketing norms in the banking and fintech sector.
Tell us a little about yourself, Alexandra…
Let me go off-resume here…I am a passionate person who cares deeply about many things, but nothing more than my wonderful, crazy, diverse extended family! From them (and there are many of them, I might add), I have learned every one of my most valuable life lessons. One of those lessons stands particularly strong at this moment in time: We still live in a world that responds to people not based on their intrinsic humanity, but instead based on their extrinsic characteristics. And for many people in many situations, those responses are undue and unwarranted. So, in my own small way, I commit to do what I can to include folks who might otherwise be excluded, lift folks who might not otherwise get a hand-up, and speak out for equality and justice, especially when the default is silence.
As a CMO in the fintech segment, what are some of the top marketing challenges (or marketing highlights!) you’ve faced off late, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise?
COVID-19 pulled us out of our offices and off of airplanes and placed us squarely in front of our digital devices. Marketers responded at speed as they so often do. Digital marketing channels were almost immediately full to overflowing with messages, content and experiences designed to replace lost physical connections, and attract and engage eyeballs. However, what to say in the midst of a pandemic–and now, here in the US in the midst of a civic crisis–isn’t always clear.
Priorities have shifted for almost every business you can name, and they continue to change. Sensitivity to highly commercial messages is heightened. The space that feels most productive for marketers is the one where we position ourselves as “here to help.”
My company, Zafin, has crafted meaningful responses to some of the pressures banks are facing as a result of a rapidly constricting economy and new social distancing practices. These are new products and solutions–for example, executing deposit pricing in a negative rate environment, creating a product information framework for managing stimulus loans– that our resourceful teams have brought to market. Speaking to these highly relevant products and solutions is probably our marketing team’s brightest highlight at the present moment.
While crafting strategies and a sound digital experience for your customers/prospects, what are some of the top observations you’ve had in terms of what works best for this segment?
Be relevant. Now more than ever, business people are intent on navigating through the current context to come out strong and whole on the far side. They are prioritizing their time and treasure to focus fully on what is most important and relevant in a rapidly changing world. So, know your customer. Take time to inspect the world from their perspective. Try to understand their economic, operating, customer, competitor, regulatory, brand, reputational and strategic considerations. Then and only then, proceed. And proceed grounded in market intelligence and insights, actively seeking actionable feedback, and preparing to pivot with agility to stay ahead of what’s next.
When it comes to marketing/selling a young fintech product or innovation, what, according to you, should marketing and sales teams in newer fintech startups be focusing on more, given that they do have interesting products and ideas in the pipeline?
Marketing impact is optimized when the marketing function is guided by strategy but focused on execution. Across industries, every company’s strategy is unique–formulated in response to that company’s specific target customers, key competitors, capabilities, competencies, cashflow, roadmap and more. Marketers’ strategies simultaneously support a company’s business strategies and help to define them.
The trick for any marketer is to articulate (and sell in) a clear marketing strategy, then put in place the people, processes and technology to execute against that strategy with consistency, at speed and with metrics. Different strategies will drive different hierarchical prioritization of tactics. But to optimize any marketing function, the team must develop the capability to produce a steady stream of targeted, on-message, relevant and high impact materials that move through chosen channels to their intended audiences with measurable impact and immediate feedback.
Given your time as a marketing leader in the banking sector (from your time and leading banks like BNP Paribas), could you tell us of some of the top marketing communication strategies that you’ve seen that are unique to the segment?
Bank marketers are working with commodities. One checking account is pretty much the same as another. That holds true across the full landscape of banking products. So, bank marketers have always had to be clever with borrowed interest, customer experience, and making hay with even the smallest of innovations. I’ve seen a number of breakthrough bank positionings over the years, some cool approaches to de-commoditize bank products, and some fantastic uses of marketing technology to segment, target and ensure relevant interactions across channels.
How, according to you, will emerging tech play a key role in the development and evolution of finance and fintech as a whole?
Emerging technologies will be transformational for the entire banking ecosystem. For the most part, banks are still delivering to their customers using an antiquated one-size-fits-all framework. Meanwhile, other industries are using data to create and deliver products and experiences tailored to a segment of one. As new and more powerful tools for managing data, arriving at insights and applying those to business processes proliferate; as AI moves from concept to reality, I foresee a banking industry where products and pricing have far greater flexibility, customers are viewed holistically and treated appropriately across their full lifecycle, and, as a consequence, customers turn to, rely on and trust their financial providers more fully than ever before.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the fintech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Andrew Beatty, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Next Generation Banking, at FIS
What is your favorite finance tech quote?
“AI will do the analytical thinking, while humans will wrap that analysis in warmth and compassion.” — Kai-Fu Lee
Would you like to share specific finance management or other last minute business tips for marketing and sales teams struggling through this uncertain time?
Get up every morning prepared to re-think what you knew yesterday.
Zafin is a global leader in product and pricing solutions for banks, enabling business users to define and execute microsegmented, customer-centric product and pricing strategies within a compliant framework. Zafin’s cloud-based, enterprise-wide platform delivers game-changing business results. We’re a trusted partner to many of the world’s largest financial institutions, building relationships, increasing agility and flexibility, empowering business leaders to address markets and serve customers, streamlining regulatory compliance and increasing operational efficiency. Integrating easily with legacy back-end systems and customer-facing channels, Zafin suite of applications can be implemented quickly, with minimal to no changes to existing infrastructure.
Alexandra (Alex) Roddy oversees Zafin’s Marketing and Partnerships teams, Alex draws upon 20+ years of experience in marketing, technology, strategy and product development with leading financial services companies, including Bank of the West, Charles Schwab, Franklin Templeton, Wachovia and Wells Fargo. Located in the San Francisco Bay area and passionate about giving back to her community, Alex serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.