The financial services and insurance sectors have had their fair share of trouble over the past seven years, with the banking sector in near collapse and huge claims against insurers for alleged mis-selling.

And now the regulation and competition in these sectors is growing, and increasing financial risk.

All this leaves one question: if it happened once, can it really happen again? Are individual financial services firms and insurance companies still at risk of further melt-down?

Understanding the risks

The reason this major collapse in the financial services and the insurance sectors occurred in the first place was due to complex long-term bad practice relating to the rush for competitive advantage within both sectors.

This created bad practice throughout these businesses, from back-room operations, through customer relationship management (CRM), to online communications such as content marketing.

This bad practice led to an inherent risk of creating significant legislative and commercial jeopardy in the digital marketing space.

Then things changed – well, a little

Now seven years later the risk in the digital space is still present, but this time it is caused by lack of marketing content compliance, and inadequate approval processes. While integrity seems to have returned, in some areas competence hasn’t.

This inherent risk is still present in places such as financial services and insurance sector websites, email marketing campaigns and marketing automation programmes where financially damaging situations, through claims and legislation can occur, even now.

These spaces, if not very carefully managed, can expose a company to legal or competitive challenge. And it can happen very easily, through non-compliant content marketing practices.

Millions of Euros for just one wrong word

Take the global corporate that found itself in court and with a multi-million Euro compensation claim for the use of the word ‘every’ when referring to the application of one of its products.

The company claimed that its product could be used in ‘every’ device that required a specific type of product. This was not correct, and in fact while the product was suitable for a very wide range of these devices, it was not actually appropriate for all.

The court action and the massive compensation claim that followed could have been avoided through more careful content marketing and better use of grammar. Simply by replacing every (device) with many (devices), the company would not have rendered itself quite so vulnerable.

Mitigating risk

But it’s not just an issue with grammar. Particularly in the financial services and insurance sectors, where competition is fierce and regulatory fulfilment ever-more critical, precise language and unequivocal meaning is key.

If the regulators don’t get you, your competitors will.

The level of precision required to create language with unequivocal meaning means you need to engage the services of a digital marketing agency with a financial or insurance sector subject matter expert (SME) team to help you manage marketing content development.

Get it right and make it engaging

These SMEs will not only be content marketing professionals with all the skills this activity requires, but will also have a clear understanding of the financial service or insurance market landscape, and an appropriate understanding of product or service subject matter.

This content marketing input if provided by truly expert and experienced SMEs, should keep you free of legislative or competitive challenge while still telling a compelling and engaging story about your products and services.

Remember, you can’t be compliant and dull – because if you are, you won’t be around for very long.

Make it watertight

To fully close the legal and competitive loop, you should also always seek input from internal legal counsel. But beware, lawyers are almost always risk adverse, which is what you pay them for. So you must ensure that the compelling and engaging dynamics of your marketing content are not sterilised by overzealous legal input.

This is a fine balance, and it is a balance that must ultimately rest with you, acting – literally – as judge and jury on your own portfolio of digital marketing communications channels.

But good collaboration between knowledgeable agency-side SME professionals – people who really know their stuff – and flexible, commercially-minded lawyers will always win the day for you.

Photography: LV woman by Marius Boatca. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0