You know the good ole days weren’t always good And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems --Billy Joel, "Keeping the Faith" Remember the good ole days of financial services marketing? You had a nice stable of customers. You kinda understood them. They kinda understood you. And the competitive universe was manageably small, staid and everyone kept to their niche. Yeah okay me neither. It's never been easy to acquire and retain customers. New technology platforms and brands seem to spring up like chanterelle mushrooms from the mossy forest floors of the Pacific Northwest--I live in Portland Oregon. So it can seem like our hold on our best customers is tenuous at best. You can see readily see this in complex financial services. (See the Consumer Outlook: Financial Services 2021, subscription required.) This is the corner of financial services that deals primarily with investments, wealth, retirement and the like. One only needs to look at the headlines to see that so-called traditional investments brands are seeing their share of wallet being siphoned off by well-positioned "democratized" platforms such as Robinhood. Everyone, it seems, is in love with your best customers. What Matters Most To Consumers Of Complex FS New research shows that the bar for attracting and hanging onto customers in financial services is lower than we may think. The Gartner Cultural Attitudes and Behavior Study (September 2020), sought to understand brand engagement across a variety of categories. What we found can be heartening for CMOs, or anyone else in the financial services organization. (We'll report on this more fully in the coming weeks.) Since we focused on investing here, let's take a look at what matters most to investments customers. We asked more than 1,200 consumers to identify up to three (out of nine) factors that mattered most to them when choosing an complex financial services brands. The top three criteria. Here are the criteria that they revealed as most important. Not surprisingly, customer service--clearly communicating about and solving issues and problems--played a significant role in in determining competence, which is in line with a similar sentiment I wrote about a couple of months ago. This echoes the excellent work unveiled by the Aspen Institute back in 2013 which showed that "helpfulness" was the key driver for trust in banking. As Susan Ochs said at the time, “‘Helpful’ goes far beyond full disclosure or fair dealing – it implies a measure of active support.” When everyone is in love with your best customers it behooves you to double down on active support.