Make the industry a credit to marketing

Soul-searching has become a regular pastime for those in the financial services industry. They are faced with a depressed stock market, job losses, tighter regulation from the Government and the loss of consumers’ trust.

Last week, Sir Howard Davies, the outgoing chairman of the Financial Services Authority declared that the industry was in the midst of a ‘retail market failure’ and expressed disappointment at the fact that financial services companies had failed to learn from the past. Marketing of financial products has come under increasing scrutiny following various misselling scandals relating to pensions in the Eighties, then endowment mortgages and now split capital investment trusts. Davies does not think it will stop there. He even queries whether a range of simple savings and investment products proposed in the Sandler Report and due to be introduced in 2005, will further expose the industry to charges of mis-selling as these are designed to be sold with little advice.

Inevitably some are asking the question whether marketing has failed the financial services industry. Marketers stand accused of dressing-up products based on their past performance and developing new products that draw in consumers, but which the financial wizards have found difficult to make work. However, research produced for the Financial Services Forum – a membership organisation for financial marketers in the UK – suggests the opposite, with 45 per cent of marketers polled believing that their companies pressurise them to focus on ‘the wrong areas’. Testimony from agencies tends to back this up with financial services marketers expected to clear decisions higher up the chain of command.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the past, the financial services industry must learn how to use marketing to overcome consumers’ inherent distrust in the sector. There is little sign of a stock market recovery and the industry cannot rely on an equity boom to woo consumers back to the fold. Troubled times also mean that there is additional pressure to make sure that every pound spent on marketing is effective, a discipline that has been somewhat lacking in the financial services industry.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here