What does fintech demand of a CMO? Let’s find out….
(Don’t forget to check out the Econsultancy jobs board if you’re looking for a new role yourself.)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Nathan Levi: I am Chief Marketing Officer for TotallyMoney. We make credit better by giving customers control of their data and helping them make smart borrowing decisions. I am responsible for the marketing function at TotallyMoney and manage our channel vertical teams including TV, CRM, paid search and social, content and PR
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
NL: I manage a team of 10 and I report into our CEO Alastair Douglas, and work closely with the whole management team to grow our business and make it successful. The marketing team works across the business and team members are part of various cross functional squads, including the creative, data and eCRM squads.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
NL: The primary role of any CMO is to create a customer centric culture. This is one reason we launched our free credit report last year, which helps our customers improve their credit outcomes and adds real value to their daily lives. The skill of a marketer is not to assume what customers want, but find out; admitting you don’t know what customers want is an underrated skill.
The other skills required for the CMO role are very broad, including those in strategy, branding, acquisition and creative. Like any senior role you need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and get buy in from other stakeholders. You also need to appreciate the different lenses of the business, especially tech, commercial, product and finance, where you’ll need to tackle for lots of meaty negotiations.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
NL: Having a performance marketing discipline I look at the numbers every morning. I do a quick sweep of how we’re doing against our targets and sense check anything I don’t understand. The rest of my day will be split between working with the management team on strategic projects (GDPR, open banking) and with my direct reports on marketing strategy and tactics.
As we’re a small business I’m just as involved in the operational side of marketing as I am in strategy, I enjoy this balance. Today I’ve met new agencies who are pitching for some creative work, written an award entry, worked on a repositioning strategy for a partner, caught up with our head of search, Henry, and written this. Tomorrow will be different.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
NL: I love the people, they love what they do and are a passionate and committed, it makes being at work a pleasure. I’ve always enjoyed managing and mentoring teams, especially bringing in graduates and nurturing talent. This is a very rewarding part of my role.
I enjoy growing the business and working on the really big marketing challenges we’re all facing today. I enjoy being involved in the day to day activities of the marketing team, we have stand ups every day to understand what we’re all working on. I encourage and foster an open culture, we have a ‘no HiPPO ‘ policy, everyone at any level is free to voice their opinion or come up with an idea. I want everyone in my team to feel they are all contributing and part of the massive success we’re having.
I love working with data, and being accountable for the numbers. I love working for a brand which is growing quickly and on the way to becoming a household name. I love working out what our customers want and talking to them about our fantastic service.
What sucks? I’m impatient and always want to move faster, so waiting for stuff you want to happen sucks.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
NL: We have business objectives and marketing objectives which sit underneath these. Every year we set at least 3 business objectives – this year we have some large acquisition targets. My job is to work out how we can scale marketing to hit these big numbers and be cost effective at the same time. Each member of my team will have a specific set of goals for their discipline. They also all have ‘moonshots’ which are aspirational or larger than life objectives. We have already achieved three of these this year – winning Moneynet’s Best Credit Report Provider in January certainly got us off to a good start.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
NL: I’m a big fan of Slack, we use this as our internal company communications tool. It’s increased knowledge sharing across the business tenfold. We’ve also recently implemented Looker as our data visualisation tool. This means anyone in our business can have ready access to data in any format, essential for all fast paced consumer businesses today.
E: How did you land in this role, and where might you go from here?
NL: I used to work agency side but got frustrated with seeing only part of the picture and not being in charge of the strategy. I also felt I had achieved as much as I could agency side and saw a lot opportunity around Silicon Roundabout. My ambition was to join a business to help grow it significantly.
I moved to a very early stage start up before I took the role at TotallyMoney. Whilst that particular venture wasn’t successful I learnt a lot about what I wanted and more importantly, what I didn’t want. It’s really difficult to move from an agency background to a client side role, especially at a senior level. My advice on this is to make as many contacts as you possibly can. I was attending meet ups, going to networking events and start up events. Most of it was fruitless but it’s really important to do because you never know who you’re going to meet.
I want to make TotallyMoney a household brand, and be part of creating a service which transforms the way people think about and borrow money. We are on the path to creating one of the most personalised and intelligent financial service consumer products by unlocking the power of big data for UK consumers. We have also just launched our second TVC featuring none other than Anthea Turner.
E: Which brands do you admire for their customer experience?
NL: I’ve been using Freeletics for two and half years and can’t recommend it enough. It’s changed the way I think about exercise and their app is amazing. Ocado has an incredible online and offline experience – they justify their higher prices based on this experience. I have to mention Amazon & Apple (the obvious choices). I think Pret A Manger have an outstanding offline customer experience.
The thing about all these brands, small or big, is that they have consistency across their customer experience you actually grow to expect it from them. This helps them justify the higher prices that most of them charge. They also benefit from the network effect of having so much data with which to personalise their service and make the experience meaningful for each of their customers.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in fintech?
NL: The exact same things are true when deciding whether you want to work for a fintech as they are for any company. Choose a company where you share the same values as the people who work there. Don’t get drawn in by hype as there is a lot of that in this space right now. Be prepared that you are taking a risk by joining this industry, there are many new players and they won’t all succeed. Learn about fintech, a lot of people have misconceptions about what it means. Become a user of great fintech products, like our free credit report!
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