The Evolving Role of the CMO in Financial Services – tml Partners Social Event

Two people in discussion on bar stools, an image used for tml Partners site for a marketing recruitment blog about Financial Services

​​Navigating the Shifting Sands: Insights from the FS Social on the Evolving Role of the CMO

In today’s fast-paced and dynamic environment, the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is undergoing significant transformation. tml Partners, one of the leading marketing recruitment agencies in London, saw this as an opportunity to bring together CMOs across the Financial Services landscape. During the social event, there was an opportunity for everyone to get involved in an informal discussion which provided invaluable insights into the evolving responsibilities and challenges faced by CMOs in this industry. With discussions centring around whether the evolution is driven by external factors or internal growth ambitions, it became evident that the landscape for CMOs has been and continues to change rapidly.

We were joined by:

  • Annabel Venner, Fractional CMO
  • Claire Moyles, Marketing Director at Sainsbury’s Bank
  • Phoebe Barter, Group Brand Director at Aviva
  • Rory O’Neill, CMO at Checkout.com
  • Francesco Frederico, Global CMO at S&P Platts Ratings
  • Tim Buchanan, CMO at Hiscox
  • Andy McClure, Marketing and Propositions Director at AXA
  • John Woods, CRO at Zenus Bank
  • Rupert Bedell, CMO at Paysend
  • Stuart Beaming, Ex. Chief Customer Officer at Saga 

Hosted by the team at tml Partners: 

Current Landscape and Challenges

Malisha Patel, who heads up the Financial Services division at tml Partners, initiated the discussion with a statistic highlighting that only 26% of CMOs currently have a seat at the executive table [Deloitte, Board Practices Report]. This revelation highlighted a persistent challenge – securing the rightful recognition and influence of marketing within organisational hierarchies. This set the stage for a deep dive into the various facets of the CMO role and how it is evolving to meet the demands of today’s market.

Annabel Venner, Fractional CMO, shared her experiences of adapting to the changing role requirements. Drawing from her wealth of experience, most recently as a fractional CMO but also from her days as CMO at Hiscox, Annabel highlighted the diverse responsibilities woven into today’s CMO roles. From safeguarding brand reputation to spearheading transformative martech initiatives, CMOs find themselves challenged in a variety of strategic initiatives. Annabel emphasised the imperative of collaboration across functions, citing collaborative endeavours with HR to articulate company values and initiatives aligning with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. This was echoed by Stuart Beamish, ex. Chief Customer Officer of Saga Group, who expressed that customers expect companies to be joined together, which in turn means marketing plays a large part in internal perception of brand to ensure it’s importance is understood.

A pie chart displaying 26% of CMOs currently having a seat at the executive table, a graphic by marketing recruitment agency tml Partners
Deloitte, Board Practices Report

Evolving CMO role and titles

A recurrent theme threading through the conversation was the waning significance of job titles. Annabel cautioned against fixating on titles, urging a focus on tangible outcomes – driving top and bottom-line growth and delivering exceptional value to customers. This echoed the sentiments of an article by Mark Ritzen [Marketing Week], which underscored the essence of the CMO role transcending it’s ever-changing role title.

The discussion also delved into the blurring lines between marketing and other functions, with John Woods, Chief Revenue Officer, highlighting the integration of digital within marketing. In an era where digital permeates every facet of business, there are questions about the optimal placement of digital functions within organisations. From his own experience at Zenus Bank, John went on to question whether marketing should sit under the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). This sentiment was echoed by Rupert Bedell, CMO at Paysend, who emphasised the increasing pressure on CMOs to deliver bottom-line performance and return on investment (ROI).

Rory O’Neill, CMO at Checkout.com, echoed a sentiment resonating with many – the allure of smaller organisations where CMOs wield greater influence over customer experience and organisational strategy. This contrasted with the challenges inherent in larger corporations, where bureaucratic hurdles often impede agility and innovation as Francesco, CMO at S&P Platts Ratings is navigating every day having come from out of the sector. 

Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Customer Officer – Aren’t they the same?

Claire Moyles, from Sainsbury’s Bank, offered a compelling perspective on the evolving CMO role. With a reporting structure that entails a dotted line to the group CMO and a direct report to the Chief Commercial Officer of the bank (CCO), Claire underscored the need of an end-to-end focus on customer experience. This holistic approach includes everything from product proposition to seamless digital journey mapping. She stressed the importance of influencing the end-to-end customer experience and leveraging data to inform strategic decisions. 

One recurring theme throughout the discussion was the impact of technology on marketing functions. The Director of Retail Marketing at Natwest highlighted the transformative impact of agile methodologies on marketing practices, advocating for cross-functional collaboration and a steadfast commitment to customer-centricity, while Rory O’Neill emphasised the need for CMOs to understand both the technical and human aspects of marketing.

Driving the relationship between marketing and communications for branding

Phoebe Barter shared her experience at Aviva where brand & marketing hold two board-level seats – one Chief Brand & Corporate Affairs Officer and the other a Chief Customer Marketing Officer – and highlighted the benefits of collaboration and teamwork as well as the effectiveness of having that board level representation and truly impacting commercial success. On the contrary, Tim Buchanan told us that at Hiscox marketing and comms is split but consumer duty ties it all together.

From traditional brand-centric approaches to data-driven performance metrics and ROI analysis, the role is undergoing a metamorphosis. CMOs are increasingly tasked with demonstrating tangible bottom-line impact and proving their place within the C-suite.

Amidst the uncertainties, there is still a lot of excitement and optimism about the power of marketing and what it can do. As the Financial Services landscape continues to evolve, so too will the role of the CMO. By embracing change, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and steadfastly championing customer-centricity, CMOs can navigate these shifting sands and emerge as catalysts for transformative change within their organisations.

Conclusion

It’s clear that the role of the CMO extends far beyond traditional marketing functions. From driving revenue growth to shaping brand reputation and influencing strategic decisions, today’s CMOs are tasked with a diverse and complex set of responsibilities. It is imperative that as the CMO role expands, the position needs to be empowered and respected, having that board-level representation to truly interconnect with the business to generate high impact. We don’t need to continuously change or adapt the CMO title – let the role that exists evolve in itself and not over complicate things, something that tml Partners see often as a marketing recruitment agency at the forefront of role titles.

The evolving role of the CMO in the financial services sector is a reflection of the changing dynamics of the industry. As customer expectations continue to evolve and technology reshapes the marketing landscape, CMOs must adapt and innovate to stay ahead. By focusing on driving business outcomes, fostering collaboration, and embracing change, CMOs can navigate the complexities of their role and drive success in an ever-changing market environment.

Who are tml Partners?

tml Partners are marketing recruitment specialists with access to a global network of marketing leaders.

To learn how tml Partners can help you or to take part in future events, get in touch with Malisha Patel:

+44 (0) 203 908 4445
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tml Partners are executive marketing recruitment specialists

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