Ismail Sheriff, VP & Head – Corporate Communication, Fino Payments Bank shares the bank IPO listing journey & other Corp Comm initiatives adopted by the bank:
Ravi Lalwani: Describe 1 or 2 strategic initiatives under Corp Comm in the last 12-18 months at your organization.
Ismail Sheriff: At Fino Payments Bank, we went through a once-in-a-lifetime event in 2021. We came out with our IPO, a first by a payments bank. It was a step-by-step learning process for everyone, especially the corporate communication team.
There were stringent communication guidelines to follow, including social media, and any deviation could have resulted in action from the regulators jeopardizing the listing process.
As we got closer to the listing date, the corporate communication team’s perspective started changing as we now needed to think like a listed company. It was a new phase for us post listing. In addition to the banking regulator, as a listed entity, we now adhere to the guidelines of the market regulator as well. The pre-listed days’ media engagement approach changed in line with regulators’ communication guidelines. It is exciting as well as caution is needed. We are gradually getting used to it.
What kind of data/information is becoming critical for effective decision-making for Corp Comm?
Conveying the intended message effectively through storytelling is a critical element of corporate communication. To evoke an intended response or connect with the viewer or reader of the story, corporate communication teams need info that helps them be adequately prepared to create the desired messages.
Info such as factual business data, analytics-driven info on customer behavior trends, macro and micro economic factors to look at a bigger picture, update on the latest tech or digital communication platforms, and most important information that helps differentiate the brand from the competition would be beneficial.
What social media metrics do you follow closely and how do you apply those?
The majority of Fino Payments Bank’s customers are from Bharat or rural India, who are largely considered to be not so tech savvy. However, we have seen encouraging trends in the way our customers engage on social media, especially Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, and use OTT platforms.
We do social media listening and closely track metrics such as reach, followers, impressions, and engagement rate (interacting with content, as against only viewing) on each platform. The data so gathered helps us understand customer preferences in terms of kind of content, preferred platform and time, etc, one the basis on which effective engagement strategies are worked out. In terms of business impact, in FY22 around 20% of our merchant onboarding happened through leads generated on digital platforms, including the website.
Financial companies are partnering with companies in other sectors such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, travel, education, etc. Do you see Corp Comm playing a role in empowering these partnerships? Please share some insights.
As a critical bridge between the company and its various stakeholders, especially the general public, customers, associates, and investors, corporate communication has a role in effectively carrying forward the message of such partnerships. Using a mix of traditional and new age media platforms, the benefits of the associations when conveyed and received well can translate into a win-win for all.
When potential customers notice info on tie-ups that could add value to them, such as insurance, credit, gold, or consumer loan, or even travel aggregators, chances are high that they might experience the product or service. Every positive experience is an affirmation that helps in nurturing and building partnerships. Partnerships are one of the critical pillars of Fino Payments Bank’s business model. We have witnessed an increase in cross-sell opportunities courtesy of effective communication, which in turn has strengthened our bond with partners.
How is creativity evolving within the Corp Comm community? What major changes do you expect in the next 3 years?
The need to be different and stand out from peers and the crowd fuels creativity. Also, the emergence of social media and OTT platforms as a powerful tool to contextualize the content with a set target audience is taking brand messaging to a different level.
Covid has changed the communications mix as well. Interestingly, digital has made deep inroads in Bharat, from where the next phase of growth is expected.
We expect social media and OTT platforms to take a big leap in terms of marketing spending by corporates. Influencer engagement will also grow as an effective medium to connect and engage meaningfully with customers.