Over two-thirds of marketers think there is ‘room for improvement’ on financial fluency

Just 12% of marketers, surveyed by Marketing Week on LinkedIn, think their industry or team “definitely” has the required level of financial skills.

Money financesAlmost seven in 10 (69%) marketers think there is “room for improvement” in the industry’s level of financial fluency, according to a poll carried out by Marketing Week on LinkedIn.

The survey of 359 people finds that over two-thirds think more can be done to improve the financial savviness of the marketing industry as a whole and their teams. Furthermore, one in five (19%) say a lack of skills in the area is a “major issue”.

Just 12% of marketers polled believe their industry or team is “definitely” financially fluent.

Financial fluency is a vital skill for marketers when it comes to both making the case for investment in their brands and making the most of that investment.

Speaking to Marketing Week earlier this month, Dawn Spencer, managing director at Pilgrim’s Food Masters emphasised the importance of marketers being financially savvy.

Spencer spent the first two decades of her career in marketing before transitioning into general management in 2022. She worked at Coca-Cola Enterprises and The Coca-Cola Company before becoming marketing director at food & beverages company Kerry Foods and, later, CMO of Pilgrim’s Food Masters.

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Speaking about making tight budgets work, she stressed the value of training her team to be more financially savvy, teaching them to manage “every single penny”.

As well as financial fluency making marketers better equipped to manage tight budgets, it also helps them to “speak the language of the boardroom”.

Finance is the language of the boardroom, argues Chris Burggraeve, a former AB InBev CMO turned marketing strategist and consultant at his own firm Vicomte, speaking to Marketing Week back in June.

“You need to understand the language of P&L, cash flow, balance sheet, you need to understand what NPV (net present value) does,” said Burggraeve. “And, last but not least, they need to understand the concept of pricing power. You’re not taken seriously at the board unless you’re sitting at the pricing table.”

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Indeed, becoming more financially fluent may also help marketers to make an ally rather than an adversarial of finance.

Just 22% of CMOs say their partnership with CFOs is truly collaborative according to September research from the CMO Council and KPMG. Just over a quarter (26%) of the marketing leaders surveyed describe the relationship they have with finance as “indifferent”, while 7% say it is outright “hesitant”.

In order to be impactful, marketers need to think about combining their focus on the customer, with commerciality.

On the Beach CMO Zoe Harris is one marketer who has a seat on the board in her company. Earlier this year, she told Marketing Week about the importance of using the right language and being able to get on the same page as the rest of the business.

“If you see yourself as making a growth presentation, not a marketing presentation, or a brand presentation, then it helps you use the right language and frame what you’re talking about in the right way,” she said.

Marketing Week will be publishing an in-depth feature about the importance of teaching marketers to be financially fluent, the specific skills needed and the benefits of doing so in the coming weeks.