Content isn’t just for Christmas

We hosted another event in our Breakfast & Brainfood series this morning, looking at how we can create content with impact in financial services. Chairing the discussion amongst Clare Allen, EMEA Content Director at the Financial Times, Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association, and Simon Hodge, Audience Communication Director at Morningstar, enabled me to bring up the kinds of questions and topics that as a team we debate endlessly. Discussion today explored themes around what makes good content, measurement, keeping audiences front of mind at all times, and creativity in financial services. 

Consensus in the room confirmed that having an audience-first approach is fundamental to good content; regardless of what a brand wants to say, all content must deliver genuine value and be interesting to the end audience. Covering something some might perceive as ‘boring’ is ok too, if it appeals and helps your audience.

Businesses spend huge amounts of time and resources creating and distributing content, so understanding its success is key. Our panelists talked about objective setting and the importance of remembering to innovate; it’s easy to keep the same measurements once a robust method is in place, but this can stifle innovation and deter us from doing things differently. Having a different perspective of what success is, pivots the metrics that are needed.

Applying creativity to financial services content was acknowledged as a challenge across the industry, but one that passionate communicators are always working hard to move the dial on. The key driver for creativity is bravery – as the panelists said, you can be more creative and forceful if you’re ok with the fact that it may have a short term impact on the bottom line. When integrity sits at the heart of the content and its creativity, it works and stays true to brand.

Questions from the floor challenged our panelists for their advice for the next decade; they warned against underestimating the strength of integrity and reiterated the importance of focusing on the long term rather than being reactive and jumping on thematic bandwagons while being mindful that things will change. As Bill Gates famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next five or ten.”

Closing remarks from the panelists reminded us of the importance of story-doing as well as story-telling. We should always be sense-checking whether the themes and topics we’re exploring resonate with the values which sit at the heart of the business. If they don’t come from an authentic place, content simply won’t stick, and while it may drive awareness, it won’t go the full length of the marketing funnel down through to consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. When we’re working with our clients to develop content strategies, we always ask ourselves what their purpose is and how far we can stretch it before we turn people off.  After all, content isn’t just for Christmas, it can be a powerful marketing tool if it’s executed properly, authentically and with longevity. 

A Digital Yuan?

A few weeks ago, media outlets – especially tech-oriented organs – became agitated about an announcement from China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).  Its spokespeople told the world that the PBOC intends to launch the world’s first central-bank-directed digital currency, CBDC. Many western commentators in response followed the lead of tech CEO Jeremy Allaire, who described the planned currency move as a breakthrough and speculated that the CBDC would “internationalize” the yuan and perhaps allow it to gain global dominance over the dollar.  This is all hype. China has done something considerably less momentous with the CBDC than popular descriptions imply. The digital yuan embodies little new and appears to aim less at unseating the dollar as the world’s premier international currency than in securing domestic control.

First on the list of things that are not new is the structure of this digital unit.  Unlike bitcoin and other cyber currencies, China’s CBDC will be tied to the yuan. Spokespeople for the new unit claim, correctly, that it will make this digital currency more stable than others.  It will also make it exactly like other national currencies. The man in charge of the project, Central Bank Deputy Director Mu Changchun, also described a two-tiered system for the distribution of the digital unit.  The central bank, he explained, would issue the currency but it would channel the unit to the public through licensed commercial banks and what he described as “operating institutions.” Rather than something new, this is precisely how every country in the world channels money and liquidity into their financial systems.  The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Banks of England and Japan, and all others issue reserves and license commercial banks to decimate money to the public as a strict multiple of those reserves. All monies are tied to central bank reserves, just as Deputy Director Mu proudly claimed for the CBDC.

If the PBOC’s system for distributing the digital unit is conventional in the extreme, neither is its digital nature especially revolutionary.  Most currencies in the world have long been mostly digital for decades. Reserves at all major central banks are digital as are people’s accounts at commercial banks and other financial institutions.  Account holders have the option of using paper checks and paper money, but debit cards have long made transactions entirely digital, everywhere in the world, increasingly through electronic wallets at which the PBOC aims with its CBDC.  

Nor do the claims – or perhaps it is fears – of the imminent “internationalization” of the yuan seem realistic, on the basis of the CBDC or otherwise.  Jeremy Allaire and the columnists who echo him point out that a digital unit could transact business anywhere in the world and so presumably steal a march on other, less digital currencies.  Of course, the capabilities of the technology are irrefutable and have been for years, as most major currencies have been digital for years. Any digitized unit could be used for transactions anywhere in the world, at least as long as there is an Internet connection.  Even though the dollar, the euro, sterling, the yen, are not wholly digital they could have accomplished such an “internationalization” decades ago within the long-established system, if, that is, it were a matter of technology only. But technology is far from the whole story.  Law, convention, and convenience matter too.

Several countries, including the United States, have laws about what currency can be used to settle transactions domestically.  Legislation allows people to barter and settle transactions in bitcoin and the like, but not in a foreign currency. Most wholesalers and retailers in this country and nations with similar laws would resist any push to settle in any currency but their own.  Even where such laws do not interfere, producers and merchants across the globe will hesitate to adopt the yuan (or any other foreign currency) however digitally convenient it is. They, after all, have recurring liabilities in their local currency – rent, payroll, inventory costs, that sort of thing.  Even if they were bullied into yuan-based transactions, they would, if they were prudent, quickly convert the yuan into local currency, effectively doing the conversion for their customer after the sale rather that the customary practice of asking the buyer to convert currency before the sale.

Since China’s leadership in Beijing knows all this, it clearly has purposes other than global dominance for the CBDC.  History says that its objective is domestic control. The Communist Party objects to Chinese people and businesses doing any transaction over which it lacks control or, at the very least, oversight.  It has banned bitcoin and similar cyber currencies because they would thwart that desire for complete oversight and control. Paper currency, however, remains a problem for the authorities in this regard.  It enables people and businesses to make anonymous transactions and also allows them to move money out of the country without the knowledge of the PBOC or the Communist Party. No doubt China’s leadership believes (hopes?) that the CBDC will tempt the Chinese to give up on paper currency and go digital.  Once that is done, the authorities will indeed have complete control and oversight. It is this rather mundane but significant police matter, more than hopes of global dominance that lies behind the CBDC.

Meanwhile, businesses in the West continue to digitize their practices, a subject that next month’s paper will highlight with a discussion for new ventures by Google and Facebook (no, not Libra).

More on the Vested blog:
Why economists need English majors
When it comes to ESG, it’s all about ownership and engagement
The rise of contactless: a penny for your thoughts?

Why economists need English majors

The Washington Post published an article recently that I’ve been waiting to read for the better part of a decade. World-renowned economist Robert Shiller believes the world needs more English majors. 

You might be thinking: Has the man who brought us the Case-Shiller Index gone soft in his old age? Is he petitioning for more raw, beating hearts in this world? Dreamers with a penchant for Hemingway but prose like Fitzgerald? 

Not quite. Although you can probably guess where I stand on the issue.

No, Shiller believes finance—and the world economy itself—is in desperate need of financial storytellers. With more than a 25% decline in students majoring in English since the ‘08 crash, we’re facing the prospect of a shortage, you see. A scarcity of skilled writers who can decode the inner workings of market movements and translate it all to the masses. A deficit of gifted communicators who can responsibly control and deliver information to the underbanked or to the new professional saddled with student debt. 

For a moment, the Washington Post headline placed English majors and storytellers in the spotlight, granting them their (long overdue and well-deserved) 15-minutes of fame. And, this English major turned financial storyteller is just about jumping up and down.

It’s not every day a national newspaper writes an Op-Ed in defense of the bookworms and the poets. To say English majors get a bad rap is an understatement. Comedian John Mulaney famously uses his degree as a punchline in a skit on tuition costs. Inciting laughs (present company included) with his line: “I paid $120,000…to accept a four-year degree in a language I already spoke.” That’s not the first time we’ve heard that one, Kid Gorgeous.  

No economist worth his salt shows up to a fight without data. And both Shiller and reporter Heather Long have it in spades. Beyond the societal value of storytelling, the data shows: English majors often get jobs earlier than their computer science and engineering counterparts. (Let’s hear it for the readers). And their salaries quickly climb to meet their peers in math and science by mid-career. (Get that money!!)

As much as I selfishly want to celebrate only the long-lambasted English majors, the truth is, we can’t accept all of the credit. I firmly believe the rise of the liberal arts education is setting up graduates across all disciplines to be stronger storytellers. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s setting up students to think critically, to challenge the stories they’re being told in the political realm as much as the economic realm. 

That’s the dream, right? The promise of a liberal arts education is creating a cohort of independent thinkers, people who disrupt the status quo and aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. 

Shiller’s words celebrate the potential good elements of controlling and shaping a story, but his words are also reminiscent of the dangers hidden in our daily grind. He argues the stories created leading up to the market crash exacerbated conditions and contributed to real families landing themselves in a financial bind. Stories that insisted the American dream was accessible to anyone but overlooked warning signals of risky mortgages and untenable interest payments. 

We live in a country with no formal financial literacy education, a knowledge gap we pay $280 billion for every year. The reality is, Americans are learning the ropes of the financial system through personal trial and error, and the stories that journalists and financial brands tell. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. 

I agree with Shiller, stories matter. But, listening critically and parsing out fact from embellishment matters just as much. No matter how diligent and how careful the majority of the country’s financial storytellers are, risky financial offerings will always be a part of the narrative. I hope the financial crisis made us all a touch more skeptical and a bit savvier. And when I do sit down, make my English professors proud, and read Shiller’s full book, I suspect I’ll find he agrees with me too.

My fellow financial storytellers: Wield your power wisely. The responsibility of shaping how the public understands the likelihood of a Recession or whether an investment is wise should weigh heavily on your conscience. 

It’s our job to write the stories: let’s make them worth reading.

More recent blog posts:
The Money Hackers take Vegas!
When it comes to ESG, it’s all about ownership and engagement
From Classroom to Campaign: A Vested Workshop

From Classroom to Campaign: A Vested Workshop

A few weeks ago, I returned to my alma mater to run a workshop for this year’s cohort of M.Sc. Strategic Communication students at the University of Liverpool in London, with our UK CEO, Elspeth Rothwell. 

I participated in the same session last year and it played a really important role in my decision to join an agency after graduating, so I knew first hand how valuable the session would be for all the students and their future careers.

vested campaign classroom

We started the session with introductions, before we talked through the process of taking on a client or prospect brief, including brainstorming, environmental analyses, campaign timeline projecting and budgeting. The class was then divided into five groups and given a short brief to work on a ‘quick’ campaign. Each brief included an issue and cause and the students had 45 minutes to develop a creative campaign concept and think about the activations. 

During the workshopping, we were able to get up-close and personal with each group, answering questions and helping them develop their ideas. After the 45 minutes were up, a few of the groups presented their ideas and campaigns to the class. As expected, each came up with different ideas from the last; sociology research teaches us that individuals with different backgrounds and experiences will always contribute different ideas even if given the same problem to solve.

vested campaign classroom

Giving communications students the opportunity to think creatively and strategically, and then present their ideas to their peers will always be valuable. Our industry is fuelled by different perspectives and ideas from individuals from different backgrounds, and we’re regularly presenting to clients, prospects, and colleagues. So those seeking careers in PR and marketing will find themselves exercising and building these skills on a regular basis, 

As with most industries, entry-level communications jobs are competitive and there are hundreds of graduates and school leavers looking to secure placements every year. We spend time with strategic communications students at the University of Liverpool to help them prepare for life in an agency or as part of a comms team and help them build the skills needed to thrive. Taking the time to give back and help those that are just starting out is really important to us; we were all one of these budding graduates at one time!

By Kris Lam, Account Assistant

More blogs from our UK team:
When it comes to ESG, it’s all about ownership and engagement
The rise of contactless: a penny for your thoughts?
A new home for the UK team

The Money Hackers take Vegas!

The Vested team recently headed to Las Vegas to celebrate the launch of our CEO Dan Simon’s upcoming book, The Money Hackers (HarperCollins 2020). Strategically timed with this year’s Money2020 conference, The Money Hackers’ party at CHICA drew a line through the casino and an impressive c-suite crowd including folks from American Express, HSBC, Synchrony, Nova Credit, Mastercard, The Financial Health Network, Broadridge, and more.

These CCOs and CMOs also had the opportunity to share their perspective on the fintech marcomms industry and its future with MEDICI, the No. 1 online fintech content hub. Host Shannon Rosic and team interviewed more than 20 influential guests on their thoughts. Don’t miss some highlights below:

When it comes to ESG, it’s all about ownership and engagement

Earlier this week I had the great privilege to join 400 investment management professionals at the CFA ESG Investing Conference in London. This was the opportunity for the investment community to meet and hear from some of the leading voices on ESG, with a succession of insightful perspectives from investment managers, asset owners, associations and even the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. It was also an opportunity to assess the current industry thinking and get an idea of the direction responsible investment is likely to take in the next 5 to 10 years.

First of all, it is worth noting that the great majority of these attendees were traditional investment management professionals rather than the ESG experts and enthusiasts usually encountered at this type of industry gathering. This unusual crowd is certainly indicative of the great momentum behind responsible investment and also perhaps one of the reasons why conversations seemed to go one step further than the slightly repetitive ESG narrative of the past couple of years. It would be impossible for me to cover all aspects of yesterday’s event but here are a few observations on some of the challenges and opportunities for the investment industry.

  1. Whether you are an active or a passive manager, the expectations from end-investors and other key stakeholders will be for you to demonstrate active ownership and a successful engagement strategy. Beyond the ESG expertise, taking a position on key issues impacting businesses you invest in but also your ongoing engagement with these businesses will be critical to remaining relevant in an ever more competitive industry. If divestment or exclusion is still an accepted tool, engagement is seen a more compatible with fulfilling fiduciary duties and more supportive of responsible investment. This is true for both public and private markets.
  2. But engaging with businesses you invest in is not enough. There is also a great opportunity in having important conversations with investee companies’ key stakeholders such as industry bodies, regulators and policymakers. This is particularly relevant for passive managers as understanding and contributing to shaping a sustainable economic environment is seen as one of the best ways to mitigate any potential risks and ensure that the index you track continues to perform. From an asset owner and investment consultant perspective, managers able to demonstrate that they regularly speak to the regulator and policymakers will score valuable brownie points.
  3. Which brings us to engage with clients. The days of “tell me what you want and we’ll do it for you” are over in the institutional space. Asset owners will increasingly demand managers act before being asked to and will expect them to proactively provide ideas and recommendations on ESG investing. They are hiring you for your unique investment expertise and philosophy after all.  Beyond reporting requirements, ESG provides your team of communications consultants with an opportunity to get creative. Infographics and comparisons seem to be appreciated by trustees who prefer to know “how many cars off the streets” your strategy represents rather than an intangible CO2 metric. 
  4. ESG integration to a firm’s overall investment decision making process is critical to its success. That doesn’t mean that it should take precedent but if you’re going to have analysts or even an in-house ESG specialist doing the work, it is essential that it is fully integrated into your process rather than being just another theme to consider. This suggests a cultural shift and the need for managers to embed elements of ESG investing in their core investment strategy. It also suggests that we’ll be moving from isolated ESG investment products to ESG is an integral part of the investment strategy.
  5. We’re stronger together. In the UK, the fragmented pension industry means that it has been more difficult for asset owners and their managers to have a significant impact compared to markets like the Netherlands for example. While industry consolidation is a route towards greater leverage, there is hope that collaboration and a coordinated approach between participants can deliver success (think UNPRI). Putting competition aside and leveraging technology to create a joint approach with like-minded entities should also be a focus in the coming years.

ESG tools and solutions are being built, standards being established and, while there is still huge room for improvement, the focus seems to be there. But to be credible in the eyes of asset owners and end-investors, investment managers need to develop new strategies and demonstrate successful engagement with a wide range of stakeholders impacting their investment. Only then will they be able to capture a market eager to drive positive change.

The rise of contactless: a penny for your thoughts?

Did you know that half of all debit card payments in the UK are now contactless? 

For Londoners, perhaps, this is no surprise – given that your morning coffee (an oat milk latte to go, please!) from the small van outside the tube station, your cramped morning commute and your supermarket meal deal can now all be paid for through contactless. Indeed, I wonder how many of the transactions were accompanied by a sheepish proclamation of “It’s so easy to spend like this!” as that now-familiar beep marks that the transaction has gone through. And if you’re spending with your contactless-enabled smart phone or watch, you receive a notification almost instantly, with a summary of the transaction to help you see where the money is going. 

When it comes to spending, contactless is not the only innovation transforming how we manage our money. For example, Facebook Messenger-based Cleo – which hails itself as an intelligent assistant for your money –  helps individuals track their categorised spending habits, and mobile apps like Plum and Moneybox round up your small change and save it automatically for you. These can make spending more efficient and more transparent and build up all important savings pots too. 

Ease and convenience is behind the considerable boon for contactless technology – evidenced by two thirds of UK adults now plumping to use contactless payments. In fact, with 124 million debit and credit cards in circulation across the UK being contactless-capable, this technology  has fast become standard. So normalised is cashless spending that even Monopoly has done away with its notes in favour of tappable cards. 

The rise of this next-generation card payment technology and its increasing normality seems to be tipping the scales towards a more cash-independent society – but this is by no means the demise of cash. Barclays recently announced it would cease to offer cash withdrawal services through local post office, but considerable backlash following the announcement saw Barclays u-turn on the decision. Still, there is a tectonic shift happening across the UK’s retail banking landscape: more than a third of the UK’s physical bank branches have closed since 2015. 

From a business perspective, the overheads of bank branches and cash withdrawal services are more expensive than online banking and cashless spending. But cashless living does not suit everyone, and financial services providers have a responsibility to cater to all. 

Personally, I withdraw cash on a barely-monthly basis, and typically rely on ApplePay. Instead of a purse, I carry a card holder in which loose change is a bulky inconvenience. I know plenty of people who share this sentiment, but I wonder how much cash you’ve got in your purse or wallet right now, and what constitutes your ‘normal’? Are you a connoisseur of contactless? A chip and pin devotee? Or, when it comes to spending your money, is cash still king?

How To Create A Marketing Persona In 5 Simple Steps

Marketing personas are the foundation of any solid inbound marketing strategy. They help you find your ideal clients—the ones you absolutely love to work with. They stop you from pursuing uninterested leads, and they’re the most efficient way to grow your business. 

Don’t believe me? Here are three jaw-dropping stats about marketing personas:

  1. 3-4 personas usually account for over 90% of a company’s sales
  2. 82% of companies using personas have seen an improved value proposition
  3. 72% of consumers are more likely to believe a brand is relevant when it delivers highly personalized content

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about how to create a marketing persona in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Identify Your Marketing Goals

How do you want these personas to improve your marketing? Do you want them to drive sales revenue? Increase email click-through rates or web traffic? Build customer loyalty? Whatever it is, identify your goals so you can create your marketing personas to match. 

Having these goals laid out in front of you allows you to pinpoint the information you need to gather in Step 2. If one of your marketing goals is to increase web traffic, for example, you can collect data on how your target audience interacts with brands online.  

Laying these goals out ahead of time ensures both you and your customers benefit from these personas. You reach your KPIs and your customers feel connected to your brand.

Step 2: Do Research & Get To Know Your Customer

This step is all about the nitty-gritty. It’s where you roll up your sleeves, do the research, and get to know who your customers really are (not just who you think they are). 

To gather this information, start by collecting real data about your ideal customers. Identify their:

  • Demographic information (age, gender, location, ethnicity, income, occupation, education level, marital status, and so on). 
  • Psychographic information (their hobbies, interests, attitudes, and beliefs)
  • Social media activity (what platform they use most, why, how often, etc.)
  • Buying habits (are they impulse shoppers or habitual researchers? How much discretionary income do they spend each month?)
  • Pain points (identify how your product improves their lives and where it falls short)

So, by now you’re probably wondering, “How do I collect this information?” If you have a customer-facing team, start there. Have team members compile a list of common user pain points, needs, and characteristics. 

Other data collecting methods include:

  • Hosting focus groups (invite your most loyal customers to an intimate gathering where you can ask them questions one-on-one)
  • Distributing multiple-choice surveys (you can do this via email, social media, or old-school snail mail)
  • Examining existing current data (look at your CRM database, past sales, returns, user profiles, and so on)

Step 3: Create Multiple Marketing Personas

Now that you’ve collected all the data, it’s time to create your personas. For this step, we recommend creating a graphical profile you can share with your marketing team. There are dozens of free marketing persona templates online. Some popular ones include Hubspot, Socialbakers, and IMPACT

As a general rule, we recommend creating 3-4 marketing personas. Unless you’re a small company with one product or service, one persona won’t be enough. 3-4 personas are broad enough to cover your core ideal clients but specific enough to speak directly to them. 

It may sound silly, but give every persona a name and a profile picture. This gives your marketing team a crystal clear picture of who you’re marketing to. 

Next, list out their demographic information (refer to Step 3 for a list of items to include). Finally, move into their psychographic information (this includes their technographic information, social media activity, buying habits, and pain points).

Step 4: Use These Marketing Personas In Your Campaigns

Here’s where we tie everything back into Step 1 and take action. Now that you have your personas in hand, use them in your marketing campaigns. You may even want to share these personas with other departments in your company that may benefit from these profiles.

Your customer service team, for example, can use these personas as a guide when communicating with customers via phone or email. 

A sales department can use these personas to drive home potential sales. 

The copywriting team can use these personas to tell stories that connect with your audience, speak to customers using language they understand, and create originality.

Step 5: Update Your Persona Twice A Year

Over 74% of customers feel frustrated when marketing content isn’t personalized. To keep your personas relevant, update them every six months. 

This may seem like overkill, but people aren’t static and your personas shouldn’t be either. Trends come and go, technology advances, and buying habits change as a result. Your customers may be using Instagram today, but a year from now they may be using an app that hasn’t even been released yet. 

Think of your personas as actual living, breathing people. Their beliefs and journeys change over time. Take note as these changes happen and make sure your content reflects them.  

The Bottom Line

Marketing personas, if used correctly, allow you to see the world through your customers’ eyes. It gives you a way to speak to them with laser focus and make them feel like you designed your products specifically for them. When your customers feel loved, heard, and appreciated, everyone wins. 

Creating personas involves a lot of work upfront, but it more than pays off in the long-run. “If only 1 out of 10 people in your target audience needs your solution, and 9 of them aren’t prospects, you’re wasting 90% of your time and resources,” writes Eric Siu, CEO and marketing guru of Single Grain

How has your company leveraged marketing personas to connect with customers? Let us know on social.

5 Myths About Working for a Small Agency: Debunked

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your ideal work environment. What does it look like? Is it buzzing with people who mega-appreciate you and push you to do your best? Does it have killer benefits and a stellar work-life balance? Is it a place you picture yourself staying at… well, forever… simply because, no other place could beat it?

Yeah, that’s what we envision too. 

Now let me ask you this… how big is this perfect work environment? Is it a large corporate firm, a small agency, or somewhere in the middle? 

You may think you need to work at a Fortune 500 to have this coveted ideal work environment, but that’s not true. 

We’re here to tell you that you can have all that (and more) at a small agency like Vested. 

Curious to know more? Read on to find out how Vested is debunking 5 common myths about working at a small agency.

Myth 1: They Don’t Work With Big-Name Brands

False. Vested works with some of the biggest financial brands in the industry, from established global institutions all the way down to disruptive fintech startups.  

We do speechwriting for the CMO of American Express and the CEO of Bloomberg. We created an award-winning website for Citadel. Morgan Stanley hired us to help launch their new robo-advisory service (along with a host of other digital products). 

As the fastest-growing PR agency in the world, we work with big names like Morningstar, Bloomberg, and Goldman Sachs, and we couldn’t be more proud. 

Technology is transforming the way people think about financial services. We’re focused on helping the financial services industry transition seamlessly into today’s digital age.

Myth 2: There’s No Work-Life Balance

This is false, too. Vested offers unlimited vacation time, unlimited sick time and a totally, no-questions-asked work from home policy. 

We know you want control over the things that matter most to you—your time, your health, and your emotional well-being. 

We know you have dreams that extend far beyond what you do at work. You want to travel. You want to explore, create, and try new things. We want you to do all that too (and more). 

That’s why every full-time employee gets a paid 3-month sabbatical every 4 years. (I can tell you that’s something most companies don’t do—not even the bigger guys.) Not to toot our own horn, but Vested was even named Top Place to Work by PR News.

Myth 3: There’s No Diversity Or Company Culture

Vested was founded by three immigrants and second generation-ers, each from different parts of the globe. From top to bottom, diversity is a part of our DNA

We’re diverse in citizenship—60 percent of Vested employees are dual citizens. 

Our team is diverse in religion—we have seven different religions represented in our office. 

The Vested team is diverse in background—we don’t just hire people with finance degrees. Collectively, our employees cover 25 different areas of study, from business and accounting all the way down to film and women’s studies. 

We’re just as diverse in thoughts and opinions as we are in race, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

We know that a lack of diversity and inclusion is at the foundation of many problems we see today. The financial services industry has a reputation for being homogeneous, and we’re working hard to change that.  

Our rapid success is directly related to our intentional and obsessive commitment to diversity and inclusion. We couldn’t help our widely diverse range of clients if we ourselves weren’t diverse too.

Myth 4: They Don’t Have Great Benefits Or Pay

Remember the 3-month sabbatical and the unlimited out-of-office policies we mentioned in Myth #2? Well, wait… there’s more. 

At Vested, we believe our employees should feel like bonafide rock stars (because you definitely are one). That’s why every Vested employee gets a Vested Uber account, free Starbucks and Bluestone account. Not to mention we have a killer snack selection featuring beer and cold brew on tap (need I say more?). 

We’re growing at lightning speed. When you join #TeamVested, you get to grow at lightning speed too. Our bonuses and equity programs mean there’s no ceiling to what you can earn. When we win, you win too. On top of our awesome benefits, we also offer a competitive salary. And when someone graduates from our Vested Graduate Program, they’re immediately given a $5,000 signing bonus and a full-time job.

Myth 5: They Lack Transparency

At Vested, we believe the only way to attract and retain the best is by sharing the most. You want to own a piece of what you work for. You want to have a stake in its success. 

That’s why every full-time employee at Vested is a dividend-yielding shareholder. As Vested grows, so do you. We have a quarterly profit share pool, and we pay commissions on new business and candidate referrals. That’s just our way of saying thanks for helping our firm grow.

Many people think working for a small agency means no job security, and we disagree. 

In the name of transparency, every Vested employee gets a quarterly financial performance report from our CFO. We even break down how each performance maps back to employee bonuses and our profit share pool. We want you to know exactly how our company is doing—for better or for worse.

Why We’re In-Vested In You

Our business model is grounded in three things: hiring great people, investing in them, and giving them the tools to succeed. We actually call this our Manivesto because we’re committed to investing in our employees and keeping them around for the long haul. 

You want to flex your creative muscles and build something greater than yourself. We know that. That’s why Vested uses an integrated approach to communications. We apply a mix of marketing, PR, social, and paid media techniques to help businesses raise their profile, improve their reputation, and drive sales. 

We’re growing at lightning speed and there’s no end in sight. The small agency you start with today may very well be a large agency a decade from now. If you’re an innovative problem solver who wants an active role in building something greater than yourself, then we want to talk to you.   Want to join #TeamVested? Check out our job openings at

10 Reasons Why Your Company Needs A Blog (With Statistics!)

You may be on the fence about whether your company needs a blog. But, what if I told you blogs are the most cost-effective ways to reach your audience? 

It’s true! Over 50% of marketers say blogs have increased their brand visibility, thought leadership, SEO, and web traffic. They add value to your company and turn your website into a priceless hub of information. 

Still need convincing? Here are 10 reasons why your company needs a blog. Plus, we’ve backed all 10 reasons with statistics. Go ahead, take a look!

  1. Drives Traffic To Your Website

Blogs are a tried and true way of driving traffic back to your website. And because it’s a long-term strategy, website traffic actually improves the longer your blog sticks around. Here’s why. For every 10 blog posts you write, one has the potential to compound—meaning website traffic increases over time due to organic searches. Once a blog post has compounded, it generates as much traffic as six regular posts.

2. Gives Your Brand a Voice

Your brand’s voice plays a huge role in your ability to connect with consumers. In a recent study, 80% of consumers said “authenticity of content” was the most influential factor in their decision to follow a brand. 

Brands often lack personality—especially in the financial services space. Add in ever-changing regulation and compliance issues, and it makes it even harder. 
Blogs give you the ability to tell your company’s story in a way that resonates with readers. You get to add emotion, develop your brand’s tone, and use storytelling to explain your products and services in a way that empowers your audience to take action.

3. Builds Trust With Your Audience

Trying to build trust with your audience is no easy feat—especially now when most businesses are online. A recent study shows 47% of buyers consume 3 to 5 pieces of content before taking the first step towards making a purchase. 

Blogs are at the top of the sales funnel, so they’re a great way to raise awareness about your company. As visitors come back to your website for help, they begin to trust you. That trust moves them one step further down your sales funnel.

4. Generates Leads

Companies with blogs get 67% more leads than those without. Blogs can be used to showcase products and services, establish your online presence, and improve your credibility. All these forces work together to generate leads. 

Once you’ve hooked a potential customer with a valuable blog post, a strong call to action—such as a discount code or a free downloadable—can be all it takes to get them to share their email address. Once you have that, you can follow-up and close the sale.

5. Improves Social Media Presence

Quality content and a strong social media presence are two of the four highest factors consumers use when determining the credibility of a blog. If you have a strong social media presence but no blog, you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage readers by asking them to share content they like, leave comments, and spark conversation.

6. Boosts SEO

Have you ever googled something, then gone to the second or third page of the search results to find your answer? For 75% of us, the answer is no. All the info we need on a topic is usually right there on the first page. 
But, how do you get your company’s content to rank there? Through writing blog posts that are search engine optimized. Google’s search engines are always on the hunt for new content. The websites that rank the highest are typically those who produce invaluable information on a regular basis.

7. Costs Less Than Paid Advertising

Did you know 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads? This is good news for marketers as ads generally cost more than blogs. In fact, businesses who nurture leads (through blog posts, for example) make 50% more sales at 33% less cost than non-nurtured leads. Blogs are one of the best ways to walk your readers through every step of the buyer’s journey.

8. Stays Online Forever

Blogs are around for virtually forever. The post you write today will still be online 10+ years from now. And as long as the content is evergreen, your audience will still find the information valuable. That’s why 28% of marketers have reduced their advertising budget and allocated those funds towards content marketing.

9. Makes Great Email Marketing Content

Do you have a long list of emails you’ve collected over the years? If so, a blog can be a great way to keep those users active and engaged with your brand. Businesses that link to their blog experience 2x the email traffic than those who don’t. Every time you write a blog post, send your email list a link to it. This builds customer loyalty and keeps your company top-of-mind.

10. Encourages Inbound Links

Companies that blog receive 97% more inbound links to their website than companies that don’t. Let that sink in. If a credible website reads your content and decides to link to it in one of their posts, it boosts your SEO and credibility with Google. The more inbound links you have, the higher your content will rank in search results.

The Bottom Line

Blogging is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with your audience. You reap the benefits of increased sales, website traffic, and customer retention while customers learn to trust you and the products and services you offer. What more could you ask for? 

Has your company created a blog yet? If so, how is it paying off? Let us know on social!