Compiled by Lourdes Abeyeratne


Madara Kumarasinghe stresses the need for relevance in financial services

Q: How has the role of digital marketing evolved in the financial services industry?

A: Digital marketing has made it possible to leverage the value of big data to understand customers better and improve the overall customer experience.

Furthermore, apps and other mobile interactions have become important in terms of building long-term customer relationships. Personalisation has also become a significant factor in marketing and the customer experience with digital channels playing a major role.

Digital marketing has nurtured an environment of positive disruption and compelled the industry to consider it seriously – i.e. to be ready for disruption and to disrupt while maintaining regulatory compliance.

Overall, digital marketing has grown to become exceedingly important; it has transformed the business environment.

Q: How do you view the efficacy of the marketing function in financial services?

A: To be effective, marketers must be familiar with the dynamics of modern marketing including data analytics, customer experience, content marketing, multi-channel delivery and personalisation.

The industry is constantly changing and each innovation must be treated as a launching pad for further development, while being receptive and responsive to evolving consumer attitudes and behaviour.

The efficacy of the marketing function in financial services is dependent on maintaining a learning mindset while remaining agile and adaptable in an era of exponential innovation and change in consumer behaviour patterns.

Q: What is your take on innovation in the industry in terms of marketing?

A: Historically, Sri Lanka’s financial services industry has been traditional and conservative. However, this atmosphere is changing rapidly. With the mass adoption of digital technology over the last decade, the financial services industry has been forced to innovate.

This has created a new breed of highly agile and adaptable professionals and service providers. The focus has been on customer convenience for some time and innovation is geared in that direction. This will likely continue as the industry understands the need to be seen as an innovator, and that it must streamline and create a hassle free experience.

We have come a long way but there is still more to do; the industry must continue to innovate.

Q: Could you outline key changes that have taken place in the financial services industry with regard to consumer behaviour and preferences?

A: In the past, the industry followed the model of ‘the customer comes to us.’ But with the digital revolution and customers being exposed to a high quality of service in other sectors such as retail and leisure, they have come to expect the same from financial services.

Therefore, the industry is embracing the ‘we go to the customer’ model. The demand for personalised services, and more sophisticated yet user friendly products and services, has driven the industry in the direction of customer centricity.

The way people consume media and access services has also changed: digital platforms have become the dominant force and the industry has had to adapt; and as such, the digital delivery of solutions, marketing and customer service has become the norm.

Products and services have had to adapt to this new paradigm. Presently, there is a strong push towards total end-to-end online access so the industry and regulator are adapting to this need – especially in terms of know your customer (KYC) processes and security – to securely enable fully digital onboarding and other such services.

Q: Has the industry adequately responded to various customer segments’ needs?

A: Despite being traditional, the industry is responding. However, this response must be faster and on a deeper level.

More market research is needed to understand consumers better. It is essential that we develop products and services that consumers need rather than what service providers think they want.

With the fintech and digital revolutions, the market landscape has changed beyond recognition. We cannot afford to have a closed mentality anymore. Therefore, we must collaborate and understand consumers through frequent and ongoing market analyses. And affordable and efficient tools are available for this purpose through digital platforms and data analytics.

Furthermore, continuing to adopt a segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) model will serve the industry best. This is happening but there’s room for more rigorous implementation, which will help us remain relevant to each target group.

The interviewee is the Senior Manager of Marketing at Amãna Takaful