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Hybrid working changed cyber risk: How can financial services rise to the challenge?

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By Oz Alashe, CEO, CybSafe

 

We’ve all become familiar with the phrase ‘hybrid working’ over the past two years. More than 80% of businesses have adopted the practice, balancing the convenience of remote working and the collaborative benefits of in-person.

Such shifts don’t usually occur overnight. But in the wake of a pandemic, this is what was required. Some businesses had to manage a complete transition to remote working. Others had to navigate a hybrid model with employees moving between home and the office. Financial services were not immune to this rapid change.

Disruption brings challenges, yes. But it also opens up opportunities and the chance to rethink how things are done. Rapid innovation is a common by-product of rapid change.

It has taken the pandemic for organisations to rethink their approach to cyber security and explore new ways of engaging employees to reduce risk. It highlighted the need to prioritise influencing positive security behaviours at all levels.

Blurring the line between compliance and security

If we’re discussing cyber security and financial services, we need to discuss compliance.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of correlating compliance with security. If you are in financial services, you must follow industry regulations. It’s as simple as that. But this doesn’t mean we have to merge compliance and cyber security to the point where the latter becomes more about reporting and ticking boxes rather than influencing positive changes in culture and behaviour.

Financial service organisations should treat compliance like a driving licence. It is necessary, and you need to have completed the training and passed the requisite tests on acquiring one. But having a driving licence does not make you a safe driver. That’s down to your behaviour behind the wheel.

Compliance is a baseline for security professionals in financial services. While it reduces risk, it’s not enough on its own to make organisations secure.

How do you know if it’s working?

Once the scope of the problem is defined, the focus should be on how to reduce cyber risk in the new working world. For that, you need great measurement. Financial services are used to working with data and putting metrics in place. But, when it comes to human cyber risk, we need to ask what these metrics tell us. Are they measuring behaviour? Are they helping define the risk level of an individual? Are they showing change?

Awareness on its own does not always lead to behavioural change. As a security professional, understanding whether your initiatives influence day-to-day employee behaviour is crucial. If we don’t know this, metrics have little use. As hybrid working becomes the norm, analysing the right data will lead to genuine change.

 Building a security-first culture

The ultimate goal is to build a security-first culture. Organisations need to be honest with themselves – are they doing enough to create an environment where employees feel they can raise security concerns?

With the blurring of the lines between compliance and security, it is easy for employees to be wary of flagging security issues. The best results come in an environment where employees feel they can be open and honest about security and report incidents without fear of being reprimanded.

Personalisation is crucial in building this culture. One size never “fits all”. Most employees want to act safely, but we have to accept individual differences to achieve this. People respond to threats differently. Lina in accounting might react differently to the call of an “urgent financial issue” to Abid in customer services.

Appreciating the differences in teams means you can deliver tailored security initiatives. The result is greater employee confidence, changes in security behaviour, and lower cyber risk.

 The challenge and the opportunity

Hybrid working presents both a challenge and an opportunity for security culture in financial services. The difficulties influencing behaviour remotely have been a hot topic in the security community. But as organisations adapt to the new working world, we have a chance to elevate how we manage risk for every employee.

By building personalised security initiatives into the broader strategy for hybrid working, financial services businesses can empower their people to be the first and best tool in the bid to be cyber secure.

 

Finance

Why You Should Work on Your Financial Literacy

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Ebo Aneju

 

A lack of financial understanding plagues our society. Most people have very little understanding of finances, which means they struggle when making crucial financial decisions.

Making correct financial decisions is more critical than ever. The UK is currently in a cost of living crisis, and inflation has risen to around 9%. This means many people are seeing their disposable income fall quite rapidly.

Buying essentials such as energy and fuel is becoming increasingly difficult for many households as you will have noticed, fuel and energy prices with the energy inflation rate at an incredible 28%!

This means working on finances and ensuring you can sustain your lifestyle is something we currently need to focus on. Falling into debt is something that you should definitely avoid!

Read on to find out more about financial literacy and how it can help you manage your living costs.

What is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is the ability to use and understand various financial skills. For example, if your financial literacy is strong, you should be able to use skills such as budgeting and investing to make correct financial decisions.

This includes decisions such as mortgages and opening bank accounts. Mortgages are some of the most important financial decisions people will ever make. Mortgage payments will take a large chunk of your monthly income, and it’s a big commitment.

Financial literacy isn’t only about lifelong decisions such as mortgages. Improving your financial literacy will help more minor priorities such as your daily spending and subscriptions.

How Can Improving Your Financial Literacy Benefit You?

Ideally, everyone should have a good understanding of financial literacy. Borrowing money is a large part of modern life, with most people using loans regularly. Loans are not a bad thing and are, in fact, very helpful, but unmanaged borrowing can be very dangerous.

Strengthening your financial literacy can help you properly acknowledge the risks of borrowing money. This means you’ll be able to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to see if taking out a loan will benefit you in the long run.

This will prevent you from getting into some sticky situations where you overestimate your repayment abilities. Deferring on a loan will have many repercussions that will last most of your life.

Improved financial literacy can also help you manage day-to-day spending. One skill in the package of financial literacy is budgeting. Budgeting effectively will help you decrease unnecessary spending and increase savings.

A more significant savings account will help you apply for a mortgage. Furthermore, you’ll be able to react to any unexpected expenses that come your way. This will also help you increase your financial stability.

Increasing your financial literacy also means improving skills such as investing. Investing can help you increase the size of your savings and also your monthly income if done correctly. This will again help you fight against rising costs due to inflation.

Methods to improve your financial literacy

Start Budgeting

Budgeting is beneficial and pretty simple to start. A budget is a financial plan for a period of time and will help you track what you’re spending and increase your savings.

Budgets are pretty simple to outline nowadays. Many budget apps can help you track your spending and monitor your spending vs your saving. Make sure your budget is realistic, and you can actually stick to it.

Keep tabs on your Credit Score

Your credit score is fundamental when taking out any loans. A good credit score will give you access to the lowest interest rates, which will make the loan a lot cheaper.

Moreover, if your credit score is very poor, some lenders will be unwilling to lend you money, making finding loans much more complicated. A healthy credit score will make it easier and cheaper to take out loans. This will help boost your financial literacy in the long run.

Give Yourself a Savings Goal

Many people struggle to save because they don’t stick to their saving goals. One trick is to set out some money as soon as you get paid. By effectively paying into your savings account first, it makes sure you focus on boosting your savings account.

Most people wait until the end of the month and put any spare change in their savings account. Although this can work if you’re consistent, it’s very tempting to blow the extra cash on some new shoes or other luxuries. If you set out money for savings first, you won’t have to deal with this temptation.

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Business

A new beginning for financial services B2B marketing

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Financial services B2B marketing is dead. A bold statement with B2B ad spend set to pass $30bn next year in the US alone. But it is dead, or at least, it’s dead boring.

B2B marketing has long carried a reputation for being dull, lacking emotion, heart or guts. Indeed, the same could be said for financial services, with its technical jargon, long-winded T&Cs and an array of complex services and products to promote. Put the two together and you have a considerable marketing challenge on your hands.

Michael Richards

But there are green shoots of change springing up on the beige horizon, as financial services businesses begin to recognise that they deserve better and start to see the lessons to be learned from their B2C peers. For example, many financial services B2B brands moved to digital to refine client experiences and grow relationships during the pandemic, meaning they could connect with businesses in a more accessible way through tailored and creative solutions. But it’s not enough to just convince a business to buy a product or service with a smattering of data and a selection of charts. There needs to be a focus on provoking the truth about these progressive brands; giving them what they deserve: intelligence, imagination and emotion to provoke their truths and tell their stories in ways that just can’t be ignored.

There are so many financial services B2B brands that are missing the mark on creating provocative work and telling their stirring stories. The industry is full of inspiring stories but needs to adopt the techniques of B2C (and fast) to avoid being left behind.

Below, I’ve outlined three approaches B2B financial services marketing should take from B2C:

 

Be 100% brand and 0% product

Let’s look at the lessons we can learn from one of the biggest brands in the world. Coca Cola used to advertise on a single poster with simple descriptive messaging that didn’t make a lot of sense … but that was in the early decades of the 20th century. Coke is now one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the world. It has evolved so much from that early uninspiring product messaging that some Coke ads today feature nothing more than a red background, a white glass bottle silhouette and the message ‘Open Happiness’. 0% product, 100% brand.

Financial services business brands can learn a lot from this. Very few are tapping into the vocabulary of emotional marketing. They sell their product in line with industry jargon, expecting their ever-changing audience to understand what they mean. When really their product or service should be learning to speak a new language. One that showcases the brand over the product, communicating to their audience with a personality and values of their own.

No company can rely solely on their product features because no product is unique anymore. The power of a brand can generate that differentiating value that will set it apart from the competition.

 

Use data to personalise your offer

Data is the beating heart to personalisation. It gives businesses the foundation to build a product that is bigger and better than its competitor. One that entices new audiences while maintaining loyalty.

Consumer brands are obsessed with collecting data to better their product and reach audiences far and wide. In fact, nearly 90% of UK shoppers will hand over their personal information for improved online customer experiences.

B2B businesses also use data, but on a much narrower scale. In a survey of B2B companies, only 25% of B2B businesses use data weekly to understand customer needs, while 9% admitted they never use data at all. This is evident given that 47% of B2B buyers who need a new financial service go straight to their existing bank, and 75% of those who claim to shop around also end up with their current bank. Most buyers don’t even consider more than two brands. Meaning lots get left behind.

This is where B2B marketing shouldn’t just rest on its laurels of tedious white papers and limited data. It should inject its own personal touch and emotion by undertaking its own research and data collection to produce insightful pieces of research and showcase its unique findings. This can include specific consumer trends and behaviours in the financial services space, so they can really understand their audience and further improve their product.

 

Be audience aware

Audience Blindness is a condition that hinders B2B brands from seeing that business decision-makers have changed. They have become younger; they’re millennials. The content they consume is worlds apart from what their predecessors consumed and is constantly evolving – particularly as we enter Web 3.0 and the metaverse.

Even in the finance sector, B2B marketing is still about appealing to ‘people’ and their needs. B2B isn’t a machine and shouldn’t just cater for a computer. It needs to connect to real life audiences – those with feelings, thoughts and emotions. Because behind every business partnership is a room full of people interacting, debating and sparking ideas.

The B2C financial services sector has progressed significantly, understanding changes in audiences and catering to new needs and desires. The rise in neo-banking, investment made easy and services specifically for young adults and children looking to save is testament to this. They’ve introduced digital-first approaches, influencer techniques and new ways of improving the shopping experience through buy now, pay later (BNPL).

We’ve seen glimpses of B2B’s new beginning, but its future is to live in the present, and inject it with the power of B2C. Only then can B2B see the new audience, hear the new market and feel the new world.

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