Could you briefly outline your role as CEO of AML group and your recent projects?
As CEO of AML Group I lead an independent London creative agency that is delivering digitally-focused campaigns around the world. Since we relaunched the business five years ago it’s grown fast by sticking to what we do well – which is simple ideas for complicated businesses. Those businesses include the CBI, Pearson and the UK Government as well as leading finance firms like Pictet, BNY Mellon, GAM, BMO, Canada Life, Partnership and Robeco.
The influence of digital platforms and marketing is growing everywhere and it’s becoming increasingly conversational, what are the main constraints for the financial industry?
The digital revolution is transforming finance, along with the rest of the world. It’s disrupting business models, empowering consumers and creating massive global flows of information. That is creating incredible opportunities for innovation; it also brings with it huge risk. Dealing with both sides of that means finance firms will need to use the technology to strengthen their brand, show value, be transparent and make clear their social purpose. The alternative is some serious regulation.
Is there a well of untapped of potential that the industry has yet to bring out?
The potential of this revolution is unimaginably vast. The predicted growth in assets under management, especially in newer markets, means the investment industry can finally step out of the banks’ shadow and show the real potential of what it can do to improve peoples’ lives. The industry is behind many others in the use of technology – the winners over the next ten years will be firms that invest in data analysis, mobile platforms and CRM. That will help them reach a bigger, more diverse global investor base to offer them better solutions at lower costs.
What motivates you about digital and finance and what would an ideal world look like?
At AML we like creating ideas and we’re endlessly fascinated by business and finance. Going to work in a creative environment that finds simple solutions to real-world, complicated challenges that make a real difference to peoples’ lives is what gets me up in the morning. I love working with clients who see the potential the same way we do and are prepared to take bold steps to realize it. We’re excited by working out how to apply new technology to that – we’re currently involved with publishing online magazines, exploring VR and seeing what we can do alongside Accenture with CRM. AML is not quite my ideal agency yet, but it’s getting there.
If you could make a survival tool kit for businesses in the digital space, what would it entail and why?
A survival tool? Who’s talking about survival? We’re at the start of quite possibly the most exciting period in human development ever. From investing in space or universal health, to using technology to offer people exactly what they need, to improving wealth in a sustainable way, all the investment industry really needs to not just survive but really thrive is confidence. That means being flexible and adaptable to change, being open and transparent, and investing in the right technology. And finding a good agency partner, of course.
How do you go about turning an inspiration into reality? Can you share a story?
A creative agency is a machine for making ideas happen – it’s what we do every day. There’s no secret formula; as an agency leader you have to assemble the right team and get the environment right, then build the client relationships that will let that team do their best work. Inspiration comes from asking the right questions, which is why we think our understanding of complex businesses is a real advantage; turning that inspiration into reality comes from having the confidence to experiment with new ideas and new technology, plus relentless dedication to the detail of delivery. A good example is our online magazine Mega, for Pictet Asset Management; content, social and advertising working together in an entirely new way to build a global conversation around megatrend-based thematics, with the client at its centre.
Top digital trends you’re excited about?
We’ve talked a lot about content, mobile, video and virtual reality. But the biggest digital trend coming to the finance industry is properly getting to grips with the power of CRM. Using customer data (B2B, intermediated as well as D2C) not just to drive targeted communications, but to offer people precisely the solutions they need. If robots and 3D printers can use data to offer customers one-off, tailored physical products from cars to ice-cream, surely that can be done with intangible products like investments? That’s really exciting - but of course, if you don’t like that trend there’ll be another along next week.