Having sat at the heart of the financial services industry for 25 years, Lansons communications marked the occasion by bringing the great and the good together to launch our first ever Future of Financial Services Conference in April. We gathered 200 regulators, key industry leaders, journalists, campaigners and media personalities all into one room, kicking off the financial services debate of the year.
Given the issues affecting the financial services industry and with consumer trust at an all-time low, we wanted to improve the quality of conversation about the future of the sector and create a much needed platform to confront the challenges facing the industry.
Why did Lansons decide to do this?
Our business has a heritage in financial services that no other agency has. Over the last 25 years we’ve been integral in shaping the communications strategies across a whole host of companies in the sector and we wanted to continue to build on this. Our business is now so broad in its offering, whether it’s stakeholder communications, public affairs or employee engagement, through to PR, content and social. This means our touch points within businessess pan across board level to compliance, public policy, marketing through to press office. We wanted a vehicle that showcased this breadth and depth.
In a year of monumental change, where we saw a fundamental shift in the direction of regulation as the FSA became the FCA and PRA, we decided to take on a challenge and showcase our credentials to the max. By bringing together the key forces shaping the industry, we were able to demonstrate the level at which we are advising companies and our influence in the debate. This was Lansons at its best.
What were the challenges involved?
An event of this scale was a huge undertaking for us. Firstly, due to the level of hosts and speakers it simply had to be an event brimming with senior delegates. We had the Chairman of the FCA and both the Chief Executive of the FCA and PRA headlining - it could not fail.
Secondly, it had to be viable commercially. The delegate cost and technology behind the payment system had to work for us. We couldn’t lose money.
In addition, many people who knew us balked at our audacity in trying to pull it off. Comments such as "but you’re not a conference company, why are you doing this?" and "you will be lucky if you get half the numbers you need" were common. We had to convince clients and contacts that this was absolutely the right thing for a communications company to lead on. We spend all our time following these issues for our clients, we have great relationships with people in the industry, and our job is to create debates and forums for ideas and discussion, so why wouldn’t we do it? These pressures and negative comments only spurred us on more.
What was your grand plan on this event?
The key to the event was the programme and agenda – the speaker and the topics of debate had to be a massive ‘draw’. This event wasn’t about going back over what had gone wrong in financial services; it had to be about solutions and the philosophical debate on what is the right way forward . We wanted to differentiate ourselves from other financial services conferences in that sense.
Having the two regulators locked-in really set the scene and tone for the day. Anthony Hilton, Financial Editor of the Evening Standard, chaired the event and provided fantastic insight and continuity throughout the sessions. We also secured MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis to close the event – not only to ensure people stayed to hear the final session but also to remind the sector that consumers have to be at the heart of everything they do.
Sounds good. What outcome did all this have for Lansons’ business?
It’s been amazing. As a marketing exercise and a business development platform it has been hugely beneficial. We created a platform to engage with people that we have never engaged with before, at levels within businesses that are new to us. We have had really positive feedback from delegates requesting that we do more of these types of things. Companies have been contacting us asking if they could put forward speakers for next time, or indeed run their own events, so it has allowed us to initiate lots of new discussions with people.
We had great press coverage immediately following the event including the Financial Times and BBC News, as well as a double page spread in a leading financial services trade publication, Money Marketing. We have won new business from it, but for us it was so much more than marketing. Ultimately it has reinforced Lansons’ position at the forefront of the financial services industry.
Impressive. Any gems of wisdom you learned from working on this that you’d like to pass on?
Aim high and get out of your comfort zone! We really pushed ourselves. It would have been easy to go for certain speakers on the basis that we know they like speaking at conferences, but we were very ambitious and lots of people weren’t sure we would pull it off until they got there on the day . We truly believed there was a real need for this debate and we found people were very willing to get involved. This was made clear both from the calibre of speakers but also the range of organisations that were there.