A Place at the Table for Everyone and Everything in Its Place – Interviews with Femtech Leaders: Elizabeth Lumley

The Digital Divide Between Banks and Customers

The financial services industry is undergoing significant change, as financial institutions begin to understand that the traditional focus is all but obsolete and that customer-centricity is the only way to close the digital divide between banks and customers.  Banks are culpable of product-pushing, and adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach rather than considering the individual needs and circumstances of the end user.  Banks should be in the business of helping people own their own home, rather than simply mortgage lending: it may be that a first time buyer in their twenties in London needs a different solution for the same objective, and banks so far have been slow on the uptake.

Women – a demographic representing massive marketing opportunity for banks and financial institutions, 51% of the world’s population and more often than not, the holder of their family’s purse strings – inexplicably pose a challenge to the antiquated bank. It is not news that women have traditionally controlled household budgets and have a huge influence on spending habits.  Why then, is the marketing and branding targeted at men?

With so much influence, one would assume that banks would already have communication strategies in place, but the reality is quite different;  they are not looking at their products from their customers’ perspective, says Lumley. And that’s the first step in the new competitive battleground.

“If you have all men or even all women in a company trying to build a product for a whole range of people, or the general public, you’re not going to get different voices or different experiences [telling you what they want]… you’re going to alienate a percentage of your clients and you won’t be talking to a huge part of your customer group”.

You can’t expect companies to be able to use a masculine voices and target women.  Women are not a subgroup, they make up 51% of the population and should be given the importance they deserve. Lumley points out, “studies show that 70% of widows change their financial advisor within months of their husbands dying”, demonstrating that banks are aiming their message at husbands and not to them, making them feel dissatisfied as a result”.

Why when marketing financial services to women, do banks come undone?

It’s paradoxical that despite being responsible for 80% of all purchases, banks insist on using a masculine and paternalistic tone of voice. While it is obviously very difficult to redraw the map of products within digital banking, figuring out how to make the shift in conversations is imperative for financial institutions. The first step would be to have more women representing the female voice for online banking users. The conversation also needs to change, switching to a more fluid, genuine, authentic, transparent and generous style of dialogue.

Gender diversity is not a problem, it’s a solution

Women have long been the ‘unsung heroes’ of finance, but banks and financial institutions have a long way to go before they fully understand and address the needs of their female clients. The future of banking is clear; diversity above all else, and a new conversation in which everyone is accounted for. Marketing and branding efforts can no longer be the unilateral ones of yesteryear – continue down this route and banks will inevitably be overtaken by more inclusive entities willing to rethink their message.  A FI facelift is long overdue.

About the author


Vaida Pakulyte is a digital marketing manager at Strands. As an outcome focused online marketer, Vaida is interested in online banking and specializes in creating content that sticks.



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