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Money20/20 USA Day Four: That’s a Wrap!

October 31, 2019

Over the course of four days, Money20/20 USA (client) brought together C-level executives, thought leaders, innovators and disruptors from around the world to have conversations about the future of money. Wednesday, the final day of the conference, drew a record number of attendees who were eager to learn and network. During the final hours of the event, attendees heard from more C-suite executives and entrepreneurs about topics like cybersecurity and predictions for the payments landscape.

Day Four

Fighting Cyber Crime  

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this week, it’s that the future of money will be shaped by data and technology. Cybersecurity is a focus for all industries, but as fintechs and incumbents alike are finding ways to make their products readily available across digital interfaces, more concerns have been raised about mobile devices’ vulnerability to cyberattacks. And with good reason. During a fireside chat, Chris Reid, executive vice president of data and cyber and intelligence services for North America at Mastercard, said, “Every minute of every day, there are 127 new devices being connected – all posing their own vulnerabilities. In this year alone, 3.2 billion records have been breached.”

According to Reid, Mastercard is going the extra mile to prevent these occurrences through AI technology, investment in cyber talent and pursuing partnerships to protect the commercial ecosystem. In addition to bolstering Mastercard’s products on the back-end, the transparency around what the company is doing to protect its consumers’ data in an age of digital uncertainty builds on the corporation’s most valuable asset – customer trust.

Payments of the Future

Executives from PayPal, Citibank and Square sat down with Deloitte to discuss the future of payments. The panelists began by looking back on what the industry saw in 2019, including new technologies and the rise of disrupters. They agreed that these are driving opportunities for all companies in the space, including banks, fintechs and incumbents.

However, they also identified some of the key challenges that come with a changing industry, such as system integration, meeting the constantly evolving expectations of customers and issues with the underlying infrastructure. Citibank shared that the U.S. is still an emerging market for payments. Looking ahead to 2020, panelists expressed skepticism around cryptocurrency and expect a larger push to real-time payments and a rise in social currency.

To learn more about the themes and sessions at Money20/20 USA, visit @Money2020 or explore their website.

Money20/20 USA wrapped up with conversations around cybersecurity and the future of payments.


Money20/20 USA Day Three: Championing the Customer Experience

On day three of Money20/20 USA (client), attendees heard about the emerging technologies that are revolutionizing how consumers interact with financial services companies.

FleishmanHillard also moderated a panel with leading CMOs and co-hosted an impactful conversation about the gender pay gap.

Day Three

The AI Opportunity

“AI is fundamentally rewriting how financial services will be delivered,” said Tammy Petro, executive director of wholesale payments at J.P. Morgan (client).

Petro was joined by Zor Gorelov, CEO and co-founder of Kasisto, for a fireside chat about how AI is changing the customer experience for business banking. Together, they discussed the benefits of AI, including implementing virtual assistants, like Kasisto’s KAI, to improve customer interactions. They also deliberated the importance of AI adoption for the broader financial services industry, especially as consumer expectations for this type of technology grows. However, both speakers agreed that although there is a use case for digitized support in financial services, humans aren’t going anywhere. Petro noted that J.P. Morgan will always have customer service agents, and Gorelov believes we’re still decades away from general AI that can mimic humans in every way.

A Digital Shift in the Banking Landscape

One of Tuesday’s most interesting keynote sessions was a panel featuring the founders of Chime, Varo and Grasshopper – all companies that provide various digital banking services to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. The panelists engaged in an animated discussion about the need for alternative banking options, especially for consumers with limited financial assets, and why now is the right time for new, disruptive digital models to enter the banking space.

All three companies are focused on innovation and technology that help deliver a better customer experience. The speakers also stressed the importance of understanding consumers’ complex financial needs and addressing their challenges by offering services they can’t always get at larger, more traditional banks. For example, Judith Erwin, founding CEO of Grasshopper Bank, highlighted that wire transactions at Grasshopper cost $1.13, while most big banks charge anywhere from $25 to $50 for the same service.

A meaningful quote from Colin Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Varo Money, illustrates why digital banking leaders say it’s time for a change, “There are too many consumers underserved and overcharged by existing banks.”

The Power of Marketing and Communications

The CMO Power Lunch featured marketing and communications leaders from Marketo/Adobe, Refinitiv (client), Synchrony and Western Union (client) for a conversation about the opportunities and challenges executives in the financial services industry face. The panel was moderated by Marjorie Benzkofer, FleishmanHillard’s chief strategy officer.

Panelists discussed the importance of putting the customer at the center and identifying new ways to meet their needs through initiatives like experimenting with digital innovations, sharing compelling content and leveraging data to offer more personalized experiences. The role of trust, transparency and accountability was another key theme.

“You want your love tank to be totally full with love from your customers,” said Sarah Kennedy, chief marketing officer at Marketo and vice president of global marketing at Adobe.

The conversation also took on the impact of societal issues, and how brands should address them in marketing and communications strategies. Nicole Vogrin’s, chief corporate affairs and communications officer at Western Union, advice to executives who speak out about social issues was, “stick to the facts” and approach it as an opportunity to educate.

The Future is Female

The day culminated with dinner and conversation at an event hosted by Money20/20 and FleishmanHillard. Thought leaders in the financial services and fintech space came together for a discussion about closing the gender pay gap in the industry. The attendees explored who is ultimately responsible for inspiring change on this topic, with many agreeing that championing this issue starts at the top, but noting that grassroots efforts are needed to bring it to life and ensure accountability.

The group also debated where the fight for more women in leadership fits into the equal pay discussion, and shared thoughts on which one will come first. Women’s roles as caretakers, and how it is often a barrier to gender parity, was also a key theme of the night.

As the show comes to a close, catch highlights from the last few days at @Money2020 and @Fleishman, and stay tuned for one final update from our team on the ground.

FleishmanHillard’s Marjorie Benzkofer moderated a Money20/20 panel discussion on the power of marketing communications.


FleishmanHillard Earns Six Shortlist Nods at ICCO Global Awards 2019

October 30, 2019

ST. LOUIS, October 30, 2019 — FleishmanHillard has been named a six-time finalist in two agency and four campaign categories at the ICCO Global Awards 2019.

The global public relations and marketing firm earned Regional Network of the Year shortlist nods in both the Americas and EMEA regions. The agency was also recognized in four campaign categories for work on behalf of clients, Samsung and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The annual awards program recognizes excellence and effectiveness in global public relations work. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on December 3, 2019.

  • FleishmanHillard (Regional Network of Year Award, Americas)
  • FleishmanHillard Fishburn (Regional Network of Year Award, EMEA)
  • Samsung, “Mobile Couture” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Technology)
  • Samsung, “Mobile Couture” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Event, Launch or Stunt Award)
  • Samsung, “Mobile Couture” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Lifestyle)
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation, “Writing a Global Wrong in LGBT+ Media” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Not-For-Profit)

View the complete list of finalists on ICCO Global Awards 2019 Shortlist.


Promoting and Improving Financial Health on Day Two of Money20/20 USA

October 29, 2019

Audience members during day two of Money20/20 USA (client) learned how the industry is championing a more financially-secure world. Through initiatives like creating digital wallets, targeting Gen Z and placing a greater emphasis on education, leading companies are aiming to make the financial system more accessible across the board.

Day Two

Digital Wallets

David Marcus, head of Calibra, took the stage to discuss Calibra’s future and address recent headlines about the company. Marcus remains confident and positive about Calibra’s success, highlighting its goal to build new payment rails and be the most secure way of moving money. He expects to see banks joining the Libra Association, the independent governing body that oversees Libra, once they have further clarity on regulation.

“They [consumers] will trust us because we will provide a lot of value, we’ll make strong commitments and we’ll be very good at sticking to these commitments for long periods of time,” Marcus said.

Personal Finance Apps

Attendees also heard from Jason Wilk, CEO and co-founder of Dave, the number one personal finance app in the United States. With more than 2 million Gen Z users, Wilk spoke to how the app was designed specifically with this generation in mind. By analyzing customer data, which revealed Gen Z’s demand for simplicity, the team created what Wilks describes as a “picture book” for managing finances. The app also includes features geared toward this audience, like AI to predict user spending habits and a spinoff product that aggregates local opportunities for users to make extra money on the side – a nod to the entrepreneurial/gig behaviors of Gen Z.

Wilk’s advice when targeting Gen Z: create a streamlined and personalized customer experience and be open to shifting communications channels to better reach this audience.

Financial Literacy

The show’s major keynote this year was Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of The Charles Schwab Corporation. In addition to sharing personal anecdotes about his career, Schwab discussed the lack of financial literacy in the U.S. and shared insights on how the industry can help solve these challenges by offering more education and providing easier and better access to services. This, along with staying one step ahead of consumer needs and being more affordable than competitors.

Additionally, some of the big news of the day was Peter Hazlehurst, head of payments at Uber, announcing the launch of Uber Money, which will include a digital wallet and upgraded debit and credit cards. The move signals Uber’s continued push into financial services and addresses the challenges of Uber’s gig workers.

Looking Ahead

Tonight, we’re excited to be hosting an important discussion with Money20/20 about the gender pay gap. Attendees will have a chance to dissect the issue, its impact in the financial services space and explore how the industry can come together to combat it.

Be sure to keep following @Money2020 and @Fleishman for more exciting updates and powerful conversations!

Day Two of Money 20/20 USA featured discussions around practices for building a more financially-secure world.


New Rules to Rule the Holiday Season

Pumpkins might still be on shelves, but holiday deals are already dropping for many of the nation’s top retailers. Compared to 2018, this year brings six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A shorter shopping season, combined with always-on online retail and year-round deal days, means consumers are holiday shopping NOW, and brands are getting on board.

For retail marketers that means more competition and higher consumer expectations, as the next two months are bound to be a cluttered, noisy space.

Here are a few new rules to help brands connect with consumers this holiday season:

  • Help consumers escape in-store – Americans spend 11+ hours each day looking at screens and, cross-generationally, we are craving deeper connections. Many may be surprised to learn that even 58% of Gen Z prefer to shop in stores as a form of retail therapy. Help consumers disconnect from the online world at your brick-and-mortar location this holiday season by making the in-store shopping experience personable and convenient: create a warm, comfortable atmosphere (couches, anyone?) that’s easy to navigate, showcase top products out-of-box for consumers to play with, host unique store events and decorate. Make the browsing experience fun.
  • Give authentically, not just because it’s the holidays – The next two months will be ripe with charitable giving, and in a consumer environment where 69% of consumers say it’s more important for brands to talk about their societal and environmental impact versus product benefits, companies may be tempted to grab a megaphone and go all in. Retailers: take caution and be mindful that giving MUST connect authentically to your overall brand. Otherwise, consumers will see right through it. Don’t create a responsibility platform to get credit; instead, commit to creating shared value that’s meaningful to your brand year-round and look for unique ways to amplify that value during the holidays.
  • Take care of their cares – Promotions are a great way to showcase products this holiday season, but be sure to take care of something even more personal to consumers – their data. Put plans in place now that will give customers complete trust in your ability to protect data. It will save your brand’s reputation and integrity and earn you loyal customers.
  • Don’t forget the fundamentals – Nearly 1 in 3 Americans will experience holiday burnout before Christmas. Serving as a resource that makes holiday moments (including shopping) easy and enjoyable is one of the best approaches you can take to help lower your audiences’ stress levels. Offer buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and competitive deals. Ensure websites can handle the influx of traffic. Make sure stores are adequately staffed with friendly, knowledgeable associates. Create frictionless experiences between all purchase channels. Make customers excited to shop with you.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018 – strap in for this exciting (sleigh) ride!


New FleishmanHillard Report Shows Credibility, Performance, ESG and Multi-Channel Communications are Key for China Investors

“The Future of Asset Management in China” Provides Financial Institutions Insights on the Ever-changing Asset Management Industry

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 28, 2019 – FleishmanHillard today released a new report, “The Future of Asset Management in China,” offering insights to global asset managers assessing opportunities in China. The report features analysis drawn from a survey of mainland Chinese investors’ attitudes and behavior, plus an overview of the latest industry trends.

The key findings of the report show that when selecting a fund manager, mainland Chinese investors put particular emphasis on brand credibility, performance and multi-channel communications. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) capabilities also are a requirement for the majority.

“By examining mainland investor behavior together with liberalization trends in China, we’ve been able to derive insights on the future of asset management in China. These insights can help industry players understand investor expectations and plan their communications programs more effectively,” said Patrick Yu, Asia Pacific lead for FleishmanHillard’s Financial and Professional Services practice. “Asset management is just one component of China’s reform agenda. For a world where the fluidity of fund flows enables Chinese and global investors alike to create borderless investment strategies, all parties need to work together. For that to happen and for everyone to benefit, the need for effective communications is essential.”

The report includes the following findings from mainland investors:

  • Credibility and performance are key. Investors emphasized that asset manager brand credibility (74%) and investment performance (64%) are critical. It’s not surprising that Chinese investors (like those elsewhere in the world) make investment returns a priority, and the fact that they will invest in a credible global brand over one offering better returns is notable. This clearly demonstrates the importance of reputation equity for firms operating in China. In particular, 69% chose products from wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) and joint ventures (JVs) over the local asset managers because they place higher trust in global brands.
  • Strategy and performance of WFOE private fund products attract the vast majority of respondents. In a competitive and crowded marketplace, a very positive indicator for foreign fund managers is that 91% of respondents said they already invest in WFOE private fund products, despite these products only recently becoming available in China. Respondents said they liked these funds’ strategies above all (93%), with a slightly smaller, but still dominant, proportion citing their performance (87%) as a key factor. This is despite their fees being higher than comparable products by Chinese asset managers.
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes are on the rise for mainland investors. While the most important capabilities of a fund manager are transparency in communications, sophisticated risk management and transparent fee disclosure, 52% of respondents said ESG expertise is a very important requirement for fund managers, with 94% overall considering it either very or somewhat important. While not top of the list of key qualities, the interest in ESG was far higher than expected. It points to the immense potential for sophisticated global firms to conquer thought leadership in this space based on their global expertise.
  • Multi-channel communications critical to engage mainland investors. Respondents’ preferred choice of information channel varied, with similar numbers favoring independent financial advisors (IFAs), financial media, social media and websites. In a market that is considered far ahead in its adoption of digital strategies, online patronage for funds was rated the second most popular channel (76%), trailing IFAs and intermediaries (88%). The findings show that digital strategies need to be a core component of any sales and marketing effort in China, while the popularity of IFAs shows the ongoing importance of people-to-people relationships and the need for trusted figures when it comes to important investment decisions.

FleishmanHillard’s “The Future of Asset Management in China” report includes qualitative and quantitative data. FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence™ fielded an online survey of 250 Chinese investment professionals between Aug. 10 and Aug. 20, 2019. All respondents to the survey self-identified as working in investment, finance or banking, and had traded or invested in at least one of the following: equities fund (87%), fixed income (73%), ETF and alternatives (82%), balanced funds (65%) or PE funds (66%).

About FleishmanHillard
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named Agency of the Year at the 2017 and 2018 North American Excellence Awards; 2017 and 2018 ICCO Network of the Year for the Americas; 2019 PRWeek U.S. Outstanding Large Agency; 2019 Holmes Report North America Large Agency of the Year; 2018 Large Consultancy of the Year by PRWeek UK; PR News’ Best Places to Work in PR 2016-2018; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality for 2018 and 2019; PR Awards Asia 2017 Greater China Agency of the Year; and NAFE’s “Top Companies for Executive Women” for 2010-2019. The firm’s award-winning work is widely heralded, including at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, and has more than 80 offices in 30 countries, plus affiliates in 43 countries.​

About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and non-profits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.


Back to the Future of Money

October 28, 2019

This week, the FleishmanHillard team is again on the ground in Las Vegas as agency of record for Money20/20 USA, an annual conference that brings together thousands of leading companies and innovators in the payments, fintech and financial services space.

More than 400 speakers across 200 sessions will discuss where the industry is headed, how we’ll get there and the opportunities and challenges that will come along the way. Included in the line-up is a FleishmanHillard-moderated panel led by our chief strategy officer, Marjorie Benzkofer. We’ll provide recaps of key takeaways and themes covered during the conference, so check back here throughout the week and follow @Money2020 and @Fleishman for ongoing updates.

Day One

The conference kicked off Sunday with trending topics like blockchain, government regulation and cannabis banking. Below are a few takeaways from the first day.

Digital Currencies

Digital currency is one of the most popular trends in the financial services industry. Three separate panels focused on the topic, examining how digital currency can lead to enhanced customer experience and increased tracking capabilities. Another common theme looked at how technology could support underserved communities and promote financial inclusion.


The cannabis industry continues to evolve, and as more states legalize recreational use, banks and other financial institutions are exploring how to address it. In a cannabis banking workshop, panelists discussed the unique opportunities and problems with cannabis banking. This included the risk involved, both in terms of reputation as well as managing large amounts of cash. Experts noted that compliance is one of the key solutions to mitigating that risk, as well as access to more information and technology, like AI, and collaboration with regulators and industry leaders. Discussion also included whether the federal government will ever approve and regulate cannabis, with some predicting that they will leave it up to the states to manage regulations and oversight. Also highlighted were the regulations that are turning cannabis banking into one of the most transparent industries. 

Fintech for Good

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but according to Douglas Feagin, president of International Business at Ant Financial, money can grow trees. During his session, Feagin discussed Alipay Ant Forest, the world’s largest environmental conservation platform for individuals. Through the program, Ant Financial rewards its users for making environmentally conscious purchasing decisions, giving them ‘green energy’ points that ladder up to the growth of a virtual tree in their personal app. Taking things one step further, after reaching a certain number of points, Ant Financial will plant a real tree in the deserts of Northwestern China. This is just one of the many sessions during this year’s conference that will focus on initiatives that are using fintech for good.

Money 20/20 USA began Sunday with panels on trending fintech topics such as blockchain, government regulation and cannabis banking.


What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work Might Not Be What You Think

October 22, 2019

It wasn’t long ago when employers faced a barrage of feedback from employees — and potential employees — about the critical importance of flexibility in the workplace. Interestingly, of the issues we asked about in this year’s “Authenticity in Action” study, that topic now registers dead last in importance with workers. It’s not because employees have changed their minds. It’s because flexibility today is considered table stakes.

Aided by a sturdy economy, booming job growth and the emergence of technologies that have made it possible for nearly everyone to do at least some part of their job remotely, workers made it abundantly clear that an organization’s ability to recruit and retain top talent hinged upon its willingness to let employees have more control balancing their professional and personal lives. Employers got the message quickly, finding ways to better accommodate today’s empowered workforce, which since has pivoted to new imperatives.

According to our Authenticity Gap findings, 75 percent of respondents rank skill and career development experiences as a top priority. This shift may be fueled by waning interest in the pursuit of academic degrees due to the prohibitively steep cost of higher education. Company-provided professional development opportunities also are an attractive path toward security and stability for younger workers who witnessed their parents struggle through the economic downturn of the previous decade. Either way, to remain competitive, companies need to take a close look at whether they’re putting enough energy into their learning-and-development and career-journey programs — not to mention the energy they’re putting into promoting these programs as part of their employer brand — so that both current and potential employees understand the organization’s employee value proposition and want to build careers there.

These efforts, just like the other top priorities for employees in this year’s study — fostering an equal and inclusive environment and delivering a comprehensive benefits package that addresses employees’ healthcare needs (a matching 75 percent of respondents believe these actions make a workplace great) — require close alignment between the company’s communications and HR teams, both of whom merit a seat at the table when the company’s next strategic plan is developed.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report from our dedicated report page here.


PRSSA International Conference: The Difference in Agency and Corporate Life

October 18, 2019

When: October 19, 2019, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. PST

Where: Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, 333 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (San Diego Ballroom B)

John Soriano, vp, Media Relations
John Sorano

The annual PRSSA International Conference provides student attendees with exposure to public relations, leading industry professionals and networking experiences. This year’s conference in San Diego will highlight the intersection of technology and media, supplying students with the necessary information, strategies and tools for professional success.

John Soriano, a member of FleishmanHillard’s Southern California team, will participate in “The 9 to 5s of PR: The Difference in Agency and Corporate Life” discussion, explaining the contrast between agency and corporate PR with Hannah Riffle from VOX Global.

Soriano supports corporate and consumer-focused clients with his national media relations, celebrity endorsement, event production and executive visibility expertise. He also helps lead FleishmanHillard’s global diversity and inclusion program, FH Perspectives.

Learn more about the PRSSA International Conference program here.


Food and Beverage Companies – Are We Doing It Wrong? 

October 15, 2019

In the food and beverage industry, it’s no surprise that better value is the No. 1 consumer expectation and makes up almost one quarter of all expectations within the industry. But as companies have been chasing new ways to deliver more for less, have they missed a critical opportunity to authentically engage today’s customer?

New findings reveal an increased opportunity for food and beverage industry leaders to take a stand. According to FleishmanHillard’s 2019 Authenticity Gap study, engaged consumers are scrutinizing food and beverage companies for their commitment to doing the right thing, ranking “doing right” as the third highest expectation of the industry, and the single largest gap in expectation vs. perceived experience. Conversely, food and beverage brands are overperforming consumer expectations in innovation by more than 12 points – greater overperformance of any authenticity driver in any industry. Are food and beverage companies overinvesting in innovation and undervaluing the potential gains to be made from doing the right thing?

Engaged global consumers say that only half (47%) of their perceptions and beliefs about a company are shaped by attributes related to companies’ products and services. The other half (53%) is shaped by information regarding how management behaves and how the company is having an impact on society. So, when companies fail to talk about these two areas with as much force and conviction as they do their products, they are creating a vacuum — and consumers are going elsewhere to fill it.

When it comes to “doing it right,” brands can look to global consumer expectations for what matters most. The latest Authenticity Gap report reveals the top 10 issues most important for companies to take a stand on range from data security and data privacy to jobs, income wage gaps and minimum wage, gender discrimination and more. The most important consideration is aligning these expectations to a company’s core values, purpose and business. Those who close the gaps and create true relationships with audiences — authentic engagement — will drive progress and opportunity.

So, calling all food and beverage brands: it’s time to look inward. I predict that many of the breakout category leaders in 2020 will be those who use their marketing communications to do the right thing.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report from our dedicated report page here.