Great content that cuts through the noise is key in a disrupted B2B world. In this episode of the podcast, I spoke with Eric Fulwiler who recently joined 11:FS – a financial services transformation company as CMO, overseeing their media and marketing teams across the group.
He spent the last 10 years in digital advertising agencies, most recently as UK Managing Director for US-based VaynerMedia – a creative, media, and production agency.
Before agency life, and as a side hustle along the way, he’s worked on and advised numerous start-ups. He’s a frequent speaker and contributor on the state and future of marketing, brand strategy, and digital media.
We discussed a range of topics including:
- What does the 11 stand for in 11:FS?
- What does 11FS do?
- Are you a consultancy or a tech company
- Digital banking is only 1% finished – what’s left to do?
- How do you differ from the big 4?
- Disruptive consulting – disrupting the disruptors
- Using podcasts to attract clients and share knowledge
- The quality of the content depends on the intent
- The Rise of UK Fintech movie
- Handling growth vs innovation
- Where do the existing banks have an opportunity to change?
- Will the challengers get scale before the incumbents get innovation?
- Fintech innovation
- Natwest Bank’s innovation journey
- What are your largest challenges as a CMO?
- The promise of Open Banking
- 3 things for next week around content marketing
- Put value at the top of the pyramid
- Be iterative and reactive
- You need to drive business results
Welcome to The Actionable Futurist® Podcast, a bi-weekly show all about the near term future with practical advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question. What’s the future off with voices and opinions that need to be heard? Your host is international keynote speaker The Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill. Like Yesterday is Eric for Walla, who recently joined 11 F s, a financial service is Transformation company as CMO, overseeing the media and marketing teams across the group. He spent the last 10 years in digital advertising agencies, most recently as UK managing director of UK based Vein A Media, a creative media and production agency before agency life and, as he says, a side hustle along the way, he’s worked on advised numerous startups. He’s also frequent speaker and contributor on the state and future of marketing, brand strategy and digital media. And I’m glad he’s joining me tonight. Welcome, Eric. Thank you for having me. We’re here today in London in the middle of Sai Boss, the annual conference exhibition of networking event organized by Swift for the financial industry. I have managed to grab Eric in between events, so I’ve always wondered, what is the 11 stand for in 11 F s?
So there’s a couple different ways that we tell that story. The more official one, shall we say, is that it’s one more than 10.
So if most people go up to 10 we go one more spinal tap way you nailed it. So that’s the unofficial story on While I wasn’t there at the beginning, something tells me if that’s become the unofficial story, there’s probably some truth to it.
It seems, you understand. Yes, if it’s 11 it’s really loud. It’s really cool.
Yeah, the problem is, either you get it because you’ve seen the movie or you have no idea what we’re talking about.
So how would you describe what 11 If it’s does Your website says we’re a new kind of firm, unlike any of youse before. It’s a very bold statement. What do you guys actually doing?
To be honest, I mean, it’s a very bold statement because the ambition of the company is very bold. I mean, we’re essentially trying to help figure out what the future fabric of financial service is. He’s going to be. So that’s a big thing, right? Yeah, And it kind of comes from, you know, historically, the company started as some really smart guys, both from the Fintech and more institutional incumbent. Financial service is world getting together and being like, Look, there’s this massive wave of disruption. Coming with technology to financial service is how do we help incumbent institutions figure out how to navigate that? And so there’s so much to unpack. But at the end of the day, a lot of what we do is helping big banks, insurance companies, et cetera figure out how they can go to market in a modern digitally. First way.
Would you describe yourselves is an agency or a consultancy
more consulting firm, but also a tech company? I mean service is is is more of what we do right now and more of what we’ve known for. But we have great product right now, impulse, which is ah, best in class design library. Essentially, that helps you ex designers, heads of digital understand what best in class digital looks like. And then we’re also building a fantastic modern decor banking technology that we’re gonna be launching next year called Foundry.
I read that on the website You say that 11. If s. You believe that digital banking is only 1% finished and your job is to figure out the remaining 99. That’s a huge area. Can you do this alone?
Definitely not. And we’re not trying to. And it’s funny because, you know, we’ve been around for three years now, and so every once in a while we get the jab of like, Well, it must be 2% finished by now. But of course, the point is like it’s not that we’ve done some type of scientific research and it really is 1%. It’s more of a mindset thing. And I think a lot of people, especially if they’ve been in using air quotes digital for 10 years, 15 years. They feel like they’ve gone a long way with it, and some of them have. But there’s so much more to go. So it’s more about keeping that mindset of always being the challenger, always recognizing that technology is disrupting everything. Software’s eating the world, etcetera, so you need to understand how it’s evolving and staying on top of it,
And how would you differ from a Big Four and IBM Accenture And who do you work with?
You know, So we work with probably a lot of the same companies that they dio tier one banks to your two banks. Big technology companies looking to get into financial service is. And to be honest, I think it be easier to tryto identify ways that were similar rather than ways that were different. Just because, you know, we’re a three year old startup that is really challenging the model of consulting overall, how it’s done, the way that the teams are built, the way the work is delivered, the way that we work with our clients, like all of it, kind of bottom up is really the modern day equivalent of what a challenger consultancy should be. So those, you know, those are I guess you could call a competition. But to be honest, it’s it’s a very different thing that we’re trying to do.
So you really disrupting consulting? Yeah, yeah, for sure. In a digital fintech space. So you’re disrupting disruptors.
Yeah, Yeah, I guess that gets very meta very quickly. But again, it’s like you know, any any business that has been around for a certain period of time. You get to a certain scale, whether that’s a bank, whether that’s a consulting firm, whether that’s any type of business. You were built for an era when things were different, and it’s sometimes it can be tough to evolve. Some of them do. But more often than not, you have kind of a new version that’s built for the landscape as it looks today, with different people, different processes, different ways of working and different outputs. And that’s kind of what we think we are.
The reason I came to you guys before I knew you were working. There is the podcast I think everyone knows about FINTECH. Insider Blockchain Insider and ensure Take insider How important the podcast view not just to attract new clients, but also to build your build your fault, ladyship.
Yeah, it’s a lot of it. I mean, I wasn’t there when they were started. It was three years ago, but it’s been incredibly successful. We have hundreds of thousands of listeners and 180 countries now and really was started in the earlier wave of podcasts. But the way that we think about it is not as a direct business development or even marketing tool. To be honest, of course, it has the 11 F S brand attached to it. But we run that team because, you know, it’s a dozen people that just work on producing not just podcast, but the video content, the social media. We’ve a content machine internally. That’s really much more like a media company, and, you know, we even monetize it through sponsorship and events and all that. So it is more focused on building an audience and bringing value to that audience through content and experiences. Which, of course, has benefits to us is a B to B company in terms of brand awareness, brand equity and leads. But the focus is not on that. The focus is more on what it be to see Media organization would look like.
And, as you know, from your days in my days in social media, it used to be all that you know. It’s getting the likes and everything else I think now would be to be content. You want great continent, people wanna access and then people will talk about you. And so I think the traditional players out there. Well, let’s do a podcast because someone might listen to him. We can measure it and everything else. But you’ve gone the other way to say, Let’s put the content out there. Let’s make sure it’s great if we can monetize it even better if we can actually do legion and beads develop that fantastic as well. But I think a CZ you say sort of armed length. If it wasn’t making a whole lot of money, you probably still do it. But you can actually monetize it now.
Yeah, I think the quality of what you do depends on the intense with which you go into it, meaning a lot of businesses that try to do call it content marketing. You can tell when they’re actually just trying to do it, to deliver on their marketing or sales goals in the short term, whereas we like to think, you know, of course there’s some overlap. But for the most part, what we’re focused on is building an audience. You know, we’re trying to give value with really no direct expectation of it in return, and I think that just leads to producing better content. I think in the landscape of 2020 where everybody can be a publisher, Everybody can create content. People don’t really care where it comes from. They just care that it’s good. Yeah, so they don’t care that we’re a B to B financial service, consulting and product company. They just care that we put out good content about what’s happening in the world of fintech in financial Service is so That’s our focus.
You gonna be on the podcast? I’m going to premiere of your movie. Tell me all about the
booth We’re super excited about that. Made a movie for the last. It’s been a number of months. Six months. Call it. The team has been very hard at work, producing a feature length documentary when one that you would see in the movie theater on Yeah, I mean for us, you know, it’s it’s back to what I was saying about the podcast. We just wanna bring value to our audience, and this is a different way to do it. It’s been 11 years since the financial crisis left NFS.
Actually, the link they I see what you did that
and what’s happened since the financial crisis. A lot of people thought there was gonna be real challenges for financial service is in Fintech in the UK and while there certainly were in the short term, you’ve seen through a lot of smart and hard work by a lot of people. This brilliance, incredibly powerful fintech ecosystem that’s been created. And so we went out and talked to all the different people that had a hand in making that happen. We talked to the government. We talked to regulators. We talked to big banks. We talked, too, of course, all the start ups that are now part of the scenes. We got some fantastic people, too, lend their perspective to it, and we’re really excited to be releasing that on October 3rd. So it’ll be on YouTube Fri to view so everybody can can come watch. And we think that there’s a lot to just kind of acknowledge and celebrate in a way what this community has done, but also a lot for other people to learn from as they go about in different countries in different markets. Trying to replicate the success
of this, maybe you could get popcorn watching
movies were actually giving away popcorn at the at the premiere. So
I read somewhere you said almost like Channel. We’re gonna need a bigger boat. So how do you handle growth innovation at the same time
so far? I mean, I’ve been onboard three months, and it’s that classic kind of start up time where three months actually feels more like nine in a good way. There’s just so much flowing through the system. And so when you have that type of attitude and that type of energy and that type of hustle and you have a good product that’s really resonating with the market on a bunch of different fronts, it means that we’re growing. So I think this will be our fifth office, maybe in three years. But is that class that kind of rocket ship hypergrowth? It’s been going on, So the biggest thing for us is, to be honest, just making sure that we keep the bar where we’ve said it in terms of talent, and we spent a lot of time on recruiting on telling our story to people that potentially want to come on board, making sure that we get the right fit. But yeah, our ops team has been hard at work moving into our new office, which actually happens at the end of this week
so you can see up close now. What’s happening with the Challenger and the existing banks? Where do you think the existing banks have an opportunity to change? Or are they just so Amir did in the old way? I know we’re in event tonight about open banking that’s gonna help things. But can the incoming banks change? Or will the challenger banks get their head of head of the time?
They certainly can. The smart money, I think if you were, if you knew nothing about the space and knew nothing about digital transformation would be on the company that was much, much bigger, head the vast majority of the customers and had most of the money. I think that’s probably the one that you would bet on. But of course, as we both know, it can be hard for incumbents when they get to that scale. To really change, you get the classic innovator’s dilemma where it’s really tough to both build for the long term and sustain what you have in the short term, and that’s really the crux of it. at the end of the day. So there’s that quote. I think it’s Mark and resume. It says. Will the challengers get scale before the incumbents get innovation? And that really is what it is at the end of the day, I think at the end of the day it comes down to the people that lead these organizations, and so it’s really up to them. There is no reason that a big bank can’t win the future of banking. If anything, they’re in a better place to be able to do it. But they need to get the mindset right. They need to get the culture right. They need to get the process right. And, of course, the technology product, et cetera. And that’s a lot of what we’re helping or trying to help them. D’oh!
Look at what people like Ash would have done with Barclays and launching Barclays rise around the world. That firm Iwas someone who was really smart, put some money where his mouth was to say, We want to see the best of breed Finn, Tex come through. We want to run them through incubators to give them awards. We also want them in our building. So we get the first look at these ones. What do you think? Other banks haven’t done? What Barclays have done.
I think some of them are trying to. I mean, those are not small investments in what they’re doing in the time and the attention that it takes to do that right. NatWest is another one. That I think is for good reason. Getting some credit for not only getting closer to the fintech and start up space and financial service is but also investing in kind of developing these financial technology products that you could actually argue our competitors to their business. So taking the kind of classic flanker brands approach. And so they’ve had we actually were involved in helping to build metal for NatWest with which is Ah, SNB Bank that’s launched here in the UK So I think a bunch of them are, But it’s either either you build it or you buy it right. That’s what you do if you’re in the incumbent facing a challenger, and I think that whether it’s Ashok or not West and Alison Rose, all of them that are getting closer to that to that world, I think that’s just a smart thing to
do. So as a senior moment, transformational companies such as living if it’s what your largest challenges of the moment,
figuring out what we do when there’s so much opportunity in front of us, which sounds like a cheeky kind of champagne problem. But it really is. I think, that focus is so important, especially when you’re young company. That hasn’t really defined itself yet, so I mean, there’s so many different things that we could do. We could launch another podcast. We could really focus on scaling up our email newsletter. We could go heavy into video. We could like a movie. Exactly. So there’s all these different things. And so the thing that I’m really thinking about is with the audience that we have. Where can we bring the most value to them from a media standpoint, Right. So if you kind of plot a graph of what is valuable to them and where they underserved by the current content that they get what’s in the upper right corner of that graph, is it? Another podcast is in a different type of content is an event. I’m not sure we’re working that out as part of 2020 planning and then the other side of it marketing. We do have a marketing function that is more what you would expect for a B to be servicing product company. So how do we make sure that we are helping the service lines consulting, pulse, foundry, etcetera really deliver on their sales and revenue goals for the year? So it’s all that stuff rolled into one and then, as part of the leadership team in 11 f s tryingto figure out how we deal with all this hyper growth and make sure that again, we keep that bar high in terms of talent and culture.
Just back to open Banki for a moment. So you guys must touch it, given your clients. Are the beagle small there? I really haven’t seen it. Take holding the UK just yet. If I do a show of hands of my talks who knows about open banking, very few hands go up. Do you see the huge promise of open banking and for your clients? Even if they’re challenger clients or incumbents, have they really embraced what open banking could be? Yet
a lot of them are trying to for sure. I think it’s still really early, and I think people like us that sit more on the bleeding edge of things can sometimes underestimate how long it takes to actually change, you know, So it’s that classic analogy of Ifyou’re annoy all tanker, it can take you a while to actually turn the boat. So even in the three months that have been at 11 f s have met a lot of fantastic people from big banks that are tasked with mapping and figuring out open banking and how their organizations, they’re gonna take advantage of that. So I have faith that they’re trying to go about it the right way. It’s just back to the question of Canadian innovation before other people get scale.
But I think the consumers, once they see that it’s there and what happened in Australia there. Now I’ve been beyond just banking. I think we’ll have open everything. Consumers will start to demand that I want data transparency, want data ownership. I want value exchange. Where do you think? Banks complaining.
And I think that’s such a good point and something that we don’t talk about enough in the world of financial service is is. It’s not just what people expect of banks. It’s general consumer expectation for the brands that they have in their life. So a lot of what you’ve seen with the rise of, for example, Mondo in the UK Starling Revolution any of the challenger banks is just the user experience of the mobile app is much more like a new uber or a Spotify or an instagram than it is a banking app. And consumers in the world, the 2020 again just have a different expectation for that user experience for how their data is accessible and can be used for anything. So it’s really this rising tide that’s lifting all boats. So think Banks and Finn tax can’t just sit in there swim Lane because the consumer doesn’t on Lee deal with financial service companies. They deal with all of these
brands, and all that money is flowing between utilities, you, tacos and Eubanks.
Yeah, yeah, it’s all getting connected.
So before, ask if you three tips. What’s the one transformational technologies your process you’re seeing in Fintech At the moment?
I might even push back on the question a little bit because I think that sometimes we, as you know, call it innovators or people that are helping companies innovate, can get too focused on the technology. And really, what we try to do with our clients is have them actually focus on the customer. So technology at the end of the day is a means to an end, right? So it’s kind of like if you see a technology that people are starting to use, you need to understand what impact they’re using it for in their life and reverse engineer from that. So it’s almost It’s not being technology agnostic because you need to understand the technology. But at the end of the day, you’re delivering a value to people, and you need to understand what the value is.
It was almost a loaded question. I expected you’d say I would. I would push back on you to say, How does that benefit the customer? I think that any sort of technology doesn’t make my life easier. And with uber experience in the challenge of banks, your best digital experience is what you expect within next experience with anyone. So if you have a great experience on a transportation for banking app. Then you go. Why can’t I have that Amazon like experience?
Yeah, yeah, We work a lot with the jobs to be done. Framework. So it’s not old. Quote of people don’t need banks. They need banking, right? So what is the job that financial service is is actually getting done and consumers lives like nobody wakes up thinking about specific account that they want to open. They think about saving for their retirement and getting to the end of the month or anything like that. So we try toe, always be customer first and how we think about it. And technologies, that’s a means to an end to adding value to customers.
Last degree. So it’s just the practical futures podcast. I’m gonna ask you the three things there listen should be thinking about next week when considering a content marketing strategy, let’s nail down to that that area.
I think you need to put value at the top of the pyramid value needs to be your religion. It needs to be the Holy Grail, because at the end of the day, if you are producing content, there is no barrier to participation or entry in the world of content marketing anybody, any individual brands. So you set up here in the hotel room looking at, you know, across the Thames, everybody produces content. There is such a massive ocean of content out there. You need to focus on quality and adding value. I think that’s the first thing I think you need to be iterative and reactive in your approach. Called out the second thing. So you need to not just think about a brilliant idea, but also listen to the market and listen to your audience to understand what’s actually resonating and what’s not. And then the 3rd 1 call me old fashioned, but it needs to drive business results at the end of the day, right? The role of marketing is to drive growth in an organization, So I think it’s very easy, especially when you take this not disconnected but extended or longer term view of content marketing that is meant to drive interest that then drives demand. You can sometimes be somewhat disconnected from the funnel, but you need to keep an eye on bottom line business metrics at the end of the day and make sure that what you’re doing is actually delivering?
Absolutely. I believe you. How come people find out more about you and your work?
Yeah. Online 11 f s dot com. I’m also Eric with a C at 11. If s dot coms would love to hear from anybody. And you could just do a quick Google. Also on Twitter. LinkedIn etcetera.
Eric, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you. This is great. Thank you for listening to The Actionable Futurist® Podcast. You confined all of our previous shows at actionablefuturist.com If you like what you’ve heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your favorite podcast app. So you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporate Navigator disruptive digital world with keynote speeches on dhe. See sweet workshops at actionablefuturist.com Until next time. This has been The Actionable Futurist® Podcast.