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Why Data Storytelling is Shaping the Future of Financial Services

By Jill Harrison 02.08.22
Reading time: 5 minutes

The way financial services firms have traditionally targeted and sold to their customers looks… pretty similar to today.

After decades of email introductions, we have so much more technology available to help us target better, sell faster, and nurture business relationships. Our tools have experienced a quantum leap, but our strategies haven’t kept up. 

The reason? Ineffective data. 

The low-code technology revolution is here to stay, and Salesforce® is sending a clear message about how data will power growth. Data storytelling is the future of data in financial services, and teams need to develop some key skills to succeed in this new data landscape. 

With so much technology available, how can you innovate your operations? One thing is for sure: It’s time to leave the email introduction behind.

Salesforce is investing heavily in the future of data

Today, financial services firms have access to mountains of data at their disposal — they just need to know how to use it and which tools give them a head start against their competition.

In the last decade, Salesforce has acquired more than $60B in powerful new tools: marketing automation and e-commerce solutions, a best-in-class API platform, and a powerful suite of business intelligence analytics via Tableau™. In 2020 alone, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff paid nearly $27.7B for collaboration powerhouse Slack to stack on top of Salesforce Industries, his suite of industry-first apps. 

But what does all this corporate M&A mean? Salesforce is making a big bet on the low/no-code process automation revolution, and it’s paying off in a big way. For banks, insurance firms, wealth advisors, and asset managers, Salesforce’s Financial Services Cloud™ is leading the market in providing tailored solutions for its clients, custom-designed to suit their complex needs. Financial Services Cloud helps firms to:

  • Attract new prospects and automate personalized journeys
  • Build trusted relationships
  • Streamline middle and back-office processes
  • Ensure client satisfaction
  • Drive growth and innovation

Why data storytelling is what’s next

In 2018, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report predicted that automation and digitization will displace approximately 75 million workers and create 133 million new jobs by the end of 2022 — this year. It also predicted that the majority of these new jobs will require data skills.

While global data literacy has improved in the last several years, in large part due to a crash course in understanding COVID-19 statistics, actively developing data fluency in the workplace is paramount. Leaders must actively teach and model data fluency skills for their teams and provide learning opportunities, and individual employees must understand key metrics and how they contribute to or influence KPIs. 

This is table stakes to developing a data-fluent culture. But where are the most data-fluent Financial Services firms going next? Data storytelling. 

Creating one-of-a-kind client experiences with data

Here’s the thing: your clients already know you’re collecting their data. And they’re expecting you to use it to tell stories to them, too.

Think about the annual viral campaign from Spotify, called Spotify Wrapped. Each December, the music streaming service drops a colorful, detailed, personalized analysis of each user’s top songs, playlists, genres, and moods — including surfacing up overall trends and top artists for the year. 

As consumers, we understand the power of this storytelling and see its reach across our social media. This campaign brilliantly compiles our behavioral data into one big story – quite literally  – and allows us to to easily share to the network of our choice. Spotify highlights how many minutes we spent listening, how many genres we explored, and who tops our chart of favorite artists. In 2021, Spotify’s “Soundtrack to Your Year” was a personalized data storytelling exercise writ large, complete with songs for the opening credits, the big kiss, and the final battle.

What lessons can Financial Services firms learn from Spotify? 

First, it showcases how powerful data can become when it’s productized into a great customer experience. Spotify’s campaign unveils insights about ourselves and how we behave, and helps us compare ourselves to the world around us. Kelly Pau at Vox asserts these data stories even have the power to reinforce our very identity: “Algorithms have become integrated into the way we conceive of ourselves in digital consumer culture: as brands to be refined.” 

Second, it teaches us that trust in data is more important than ever. Spotify has accumulated the massive piles of demographic data needed to power this campaign through loyal users who trust the brand to deliver a high-quality streaming experience, ensure secure cross-platform support, and go the extra mile with recommendations and playlists tailored to unique tastes. 

It’s a great example of how nerding out about data can deliver a delightful experience for everyone (and that Spotify is always listening). And even though you’re not a consumer company, there’s no reason you can’t do a similar campaign for your customers with the right data in hand.

How FinTechs experiment with data storytelling 

While FINRA’s Audio Aura may not yet be chill or euphoric FINRA isn’t deciding your Audio Aura any time soon, but there are some recent examples of this storytelling in action that banks, credit unions, wealth managers, and other financial services institutions would be wise to inspect.

Before this past year brought the meteoric rise of meme stocks like GameStop and a $2T+ banner year for cryptocurrencies, Robinhood issued its first Robinhood Recap. In late 2020, the firm launched a “special personalized experience” for users to travel back through their investing journey which featured their biggest trades, key investing moments, and other market milestones. This experience helped users make sense of their activity and encouraged them to take a deeper look at how they’re investing. 

The data-driven customer experience reinforced moments of explicit value like earned interest, dividends, and trade returns. It also highlighted desired user behaviors Robinhood is keen to promote like referrals — to drive brand awareness and new client acquisition — and app adoption to promote brand loyalty.

Beyond Robinhood, many millennial and Gen Z-focused fintechs and personal finance apps weave these desired user behaviors into their gamification and storytelling strategies. Users can monitor dashboards that track the points they’ve earned from making deposits, connecting external accounts, and completing in-app guided learning. On some apps, users can even see if they’re on-track to meet their financial goals, how much their current rate of investing will return to them at retirement, and how they compare to peers in their demographic group.

Evolve your data storytelling with Silverline and Salesforce

These immersive experiences provide many benefits: Customers improve financial literacy, diversify their holdings, and redeem their points for real assets, while fintechs spend smarter marketing budgets, open new lines of business, and deepen their understanding of assets held away. 

These data-driven strategies are one of the major reasons that fintechs are gaining market share fast. Want to take your organization’s data strategy to the next level? Find out how Silverline’s team of experts can help. 

Ready to see real results? We can help.

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