Insurance Services

| October 30, 2013

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Senior Managing Director Dana Mikstay provides a snapshot of the firm's insurance practice.

Spotlight

Commerzbank AG

Commerzbank is a leading international commercial bank with branches and offices in almost 50 countries. In the two business segments Private and Small Business Customers and Corporate Clients, the Bank offers a comprehensive portfolio of financial services which is precisely aligned to its clients’ needs. Commerzbank finances approximately 30% of Germany’s foreign trade and is the leading finance provider for corporate clients in Germany. Due to its in-depth sector know-how in the German economy, the Bank is a leading provider of capital market products. Its subsidiaries Comdirect in Germany and mBank in Poland are two of the world’s most innovative online banks.

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Investor Insight: Digital Marketing Trends in the Banking Service Industry

Article | August 18, 2021

With the growth of social media and a slew of technological changes, banking has changed the way it functions. Just as online shopping and e-commerce are boosting sales, similarly social media, blogs and the technology for sharing videos are also creating buzz about specific brands and products. Businesses need to adapt and keep up with the changing trends in digital marketing. Digital marketing trends in the banking industry is becoming increasingly important Everybody's digital today. Virtually any bank will have a digital presence from social media to PPC ads across Google and Bing. Most banks believe that their digital marketing spending must be increased and efforts must be across every digital platform to make their advertising more efficient. The number of digital advertising and marketing companies now accounts for more than 50% of their marketing expenditure, compared to 14% of 2017. The similar banking marketing trend has occurred in mobile marketing, which spends less than 40% of its budget but is increasing. Although the importance of digital marketing trends in the banking business demonstrates increased competition, it also makes it harder to distinguish. This means that banks must take uniquely different techniques, showcasing consumers and success stories, bringing value to market offering, and making the most of a highly competitive digital world utilizing non-traditional awareness campaigns instead of normal publicity campaigns. Transition from paid to owned media Paying or buying media is called paid media where investment is made through search, showing ad networks, or in the form of affiliate marketing where one can pay for visits, audience reach or conversions. The big share of paid media spent is still crucial to conventional off-line media such as printing, TV, and direct mail. Owned media is the brand's media. This includes online company websites, blogs, and mobile apps on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Brochures or retail outlets may feature offline-owned media. While neither is new, digital marketers are clearly warming up banks' options for both owned and paid media. Financial institutions may use these sorts of media to organize their media activities and use the media mix according to their marketing plan and budget. Marketing to Gen X and Y As millennials continue to age into their 30s and 40s, banks must adapt to the needs of this increasingly powerful consumer market. As more millennials reach credit age, they must have access to affordable banking products from a wide range of sources. Recent research shows that young adults are three times more likely to engage in a high-cost activity like signing up for bank loans and credit cards than their elders were at the same age. In the last five years, the overall number of bank account applications has increased by 165% -- faster than any other age group, according to a report from ‘The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).’ As the baby boom generation draws closer to retirement, banks have to figure out how to serve this growing generation of consumers. Marketing to millennials is no longer exclusively about offering something free or cheap -- think free travel or goods in exchange for checking out their accounts. Instead, examine how you can develop engagement with millennials as part of your overall banking experience and marketing mix. This includes pairing social media presence with mobile apps that allow millennials to check out different accounts or receive personalized services from banks. Consider a branded experience Fintech is a fast-paced field that allows users to interact with financial providers through apps and websites. The FinTech industry is growing rapidly, with a global reach and diverse competitive landscape. The FinTech culture is evolving rapidly regarding the customer base, service level, and governance factors. Digital transformation affects how organizations deliver services, deliver value and target their campaigns toward potential or current FinTech customers. Leveraging on the FinTech culture makes it possible for organizations to re-imagine their approach to customer service in a way that optimizes both results and cost-efficiency. There’s been an explosion in the world of FinTech. And not just in financial services but also software for everything from e-commerce to real estate. There has been a real shift in how people look at financial products. People want to feel comfortable investing their hard-earned cash in FinTech products -- including cryptocurrencies. It seems like everyone has an account at a financial services company. And they want access to new types of financial products that give them a branded experience. These services are designed to make it easier for ordinary people to get money from the banks, but not so easy that they miss out on exciting opportunities. Invest in personalized ad campaigns Personalization is the big concept behind any digital marketing campaign. It’s about figuring out which audience matches your interests so you can deliver the right product or service at the right time. In other words, personalization is about understanding your customer and discovering what makes them tick. How w0uld you know which customers will respond well to your marketing efforts is simply by understanding their specific needs and then tailoring your message to fulfil those needs. There is a growing shift from basic data science to more sophisticated personalization. Data science is an incredibly powerful way to understand your customer’s preferences, psychographic traits and other data points. Applied in the right way, it can provide a strong push toward providing more relevant content, special offers and better customer service. The challenge is applying that knowledge in a way that totally works for your bank. Integrate Digital Marketing Search Optimisation for banks The difficulty in creating effective digital marketing search strategies lies in the fact that customer expectations have never been higher. With e-commerce on the rise, customers expect to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. As a result, SEO strategies that are once suitable for traditional search engine optimization (SEO) are now impacting organic search results. The problem is that it can be difficult to determine which approach will deliver the best results for your business through digital marketing search engine optimization (SEO). Banks are beginning to pay more attention to digital marketing. They understand that by providing their customers with easy and convenient access to information. They will be more likely to spend money on the products and services said company offers. Digital marketing is not just about getting people to read blog posts or engage with social media pages - if that were the metric, everyone would read everything online! Instead, it’s about getting people who might not otherwise engage with business opportunities, or simply wouldn't know where to start looking for information. Maintain focus on customer experience and commitment The customer experience is the heart and soul of every bank’s digital marketing effort and every bank should strive to provide this level of customer service consistently. The digital marketing trend in the banking industry has taken to transparency and customer-focused messages. Many banks are beginning to understand how marketing messages can best stand on their own feet. With the ever-changing digital landscape, maintaining focus on customer experience is becoming ever more important. For banks and their customers, this means developing a continuous and interactive digital experience that allows them to stay engaged with their valued customers. In addition to branding and marketing campaigns designed to continue growing customer confidence, banks should also continue developing relationships with their fellow business partners through digital tools and social networking. The Take-Away There’s a numbers game attached to online marketing: The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your approach and demonstrate ROI. This is why marketers closely watch industry trends – it helps them to understand their customers better. In fact, according to a recent study by AdRoll, half of the businesses that use customer data to personalize their online ad campaigns have seen CTRs increase by 20%. Banks should be doing the same and looking to integrate data into their campaigns this year. Some Frequently Asked Questions What are the latest trends in digital marketing for banks? AI, augmented reality, voice search optimization, programmatic advertising, chatbots, personalization, automated email marketing, video marketing, Instagram reels, shoppable content, influencer marketing, and geofencing are just a few of the most recent digital marketing trends in the banking industry to watch out for. These new additions in the banking industry paves the way for a revolution in how financial institutes market their services. How do banks use digital marketing? Banks use the following types of digital marketing to gain attention: Explainer videos to make complex financial concepts more understandable. Make your website the primary point of contact for your customers. Set up a YouTube channel to provide information-dense content. Marketing through email Marketing via mobile device How valuable is digital marketing? Digital marketing not only helps in saving money by bringing in customers at a cheaper cost than conventional marketing techniques, but it also assists you in increasing your income. The value of digital marketing can now be evaluated more precisely and the influence it has on your business may have a significant positive impact. How do you advertise banking services? Make use of these five tried-and-true bank marketing strategies to raise awareness, attract customers, and do more: Content marketing: Content marketing is a kind of marketing that uses written content to promote a company's products and services. Develop textual, graphic, and interactive components for your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising Social media marketing Online Reputation management { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the latest trends in digital marketing for banks?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "AI, augmented reality, voice search optimization, programmatic advertising, chatbots, personalization, automated email marketing, video marketing, Instagram reels, shoppable content, influencer marketing, and geofencing are just a few of the most recent digital marketing trends in the banking industry to watch out for. These new additions in the banking industry pave the way for a revolution in how financial institutes market their services." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do banks use digital marketing?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Banks use the following types of digital marketing to gain attention: Explainer videos to make complex financial concepts more understandable. Make your website the primary point of contact for your customers. Set up a YouTube channel to provide information-dense content. Marketing through email Marketing via mobile device" } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How valuable is digital marketing?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Digital marketing not only helps in saving money by bringing in customers at a cheaper cost than conventional marketing techniques, but it also assists you in increasing your income. The value of digital marketing can now be evaluated more precisely and the influence it has on your business may have a significant positive impact." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do you advertise banking services?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Make use of these five tried-and-true bank marketing strategies to raise awareness, attract customers, and do more: Content marketing: Content marketing is a kind of marketing that uses written content to promote a company's products and services. Develop textual, graphic, and interactive components for your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising Social media marketing Online Reputation management" } }] }

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Coronavirus Hits Economy. How Fintech is Affected?

Article | March 7, 2020

From stock market swings and billions wiped off of the airlines, hotels, transportation revenues to drug, soap or iPhone replacement shortages – the coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on many business aspects of life. Euler Hermes calls this a "quarantined trade". The company's analysts estimated that Covid-19 costs $320bn of trade losses every quarter. But what about fintech? It’s not immune to the virus either. As the side effects of Covid-19 will be unfolding in the weeks to come, we’ll see some fintech or finance companies taking hits. But other companies or solutions will be gaining traction.

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WHY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ARE ON CLOUD NINE POST-PANDEMIC

Article | June 4, 2021

Financial institutions have, for a while now, been operating in a highly cost challenged environment. These firms will continue walking the tight rope of executing on efficiency, digital transformation and supporting the business. Post-COVID when our dear planet begins to get back to some form of normality in the months ahead, it does not necessarily assume that wallets will be loser and further budget constraints are expected to be with us for some time. As we know the Genie is out of the bottle on the whole “agile” working theory and the Cloud providers have responded in kind such as providing virtual desktops and VPN solutions. Of course not forgetting the Video calling enablement which has coined a phrase never to leave our vocabulary “sorry I was on mute”. Cost pressures aside businesses are already reassessing the effectiveness of their technology stacks. I believe we will see an acceleration of an already giddy pace by firms to move parts of their estate and applications to the public cloud. It is not only essential from a practical basis covering the usual themes of cost, storage planning on demand compute etc but if you want to retain the best talent in technology you need to be exposing them to the likes of AWS, GCP and Azure in some form. Data is the new oil As to my world in data various analogies “data is the new oil” etc, but getting beyond the taglines the public cloud is shaking up the status quo. From off-the-shelf Amazon style access to data products via a web store or to throw in another term “supermarket”. Fundamentally the barrier to entry for clients to access data, storage and enormous compute resource is really down to what you can afford. Efficiencies on compute, serverless technologies pay for what you use not pay for standby is changing the paradigm in architecture. Thereby pushing boundaries in innovation, experimentation and exposing teams to AI/ML as a utility as opposed to things you read about in journals or online. No two businesses are the same which is why certain firms are further in the journey than others. But regardless of the path financial institutions decide to go down, it does not change the fact that data needs to be delivered to the right place, at the right time, and in a preferred format. Some firms will simply want their channel partners to ship data into the cloud as an end point. From Satellites to the Cloud This leads me into my next comparison. I was lucky enough (or unlucky) to be there when the internet created another paradigm shift as a delivery end point for data. Prior to that I spent many years plugging firms into Satellites or Leased lines for the delivery of Market Data. As a younger man I thought those days would never end! If the internet became the end point that people used to get data into their own network, then the cloud to a certain extent is the modern day equivalent. After all, if firms want to use cloud as an end point into a physical data centre or on-premise, they can do that. Alternatively, if the firm wants to use the data exclusively within the cloud, then that is also achievable in this day and age.

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Bitcoin, Rare & Gold Coins—Which Investment for You?

Article | March 19, 2021

Coin Conundrums: Expert vets 3 popular ‘flight to safety’ coin assets amid forecasted financial strife As the financial markets strive to rebound from what has been a hugely trying and tumultuous period, courtesy of a deadly global pandemic, we may need to brace ourselves for yet more trouble ahead. This as an ongoing Harvard Business School study predicts a 40% probability of a financial crisis in the next three years, which is largely based on unprecedented growth in credit coupled with the reality that interest rates will eventually rise, making debt service unbearable. “Now factor in over $10 trillion in global economic stimulus, as well as increases of 26% in the M2 money supply and 78% in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet over the last year, and the lack of sustainability becomes readily apparent,” says alternative investment pundit Thomas Neptune, Esq. “As the economy artificially recovers and we inch toward full employment over the next few years, the reality is that the Federal Reserve is trapped. It only seems logical that the Fed will, at some point, be forced to raise interest rates to combat inflation, while doing so could put a giant pin in several asset price bubbles.” When financial markets collapse, it’s known that non-correlated “flight to safety” assets generally perform very well. Due to the heightened level state of uncertainty in the current climate, many investors are already increasing allocations to alterative investment vehicles like Cryptocurrency, U.S. rare coins and gold bullion coins while prices are relatively modest (depending, of course, on whom you ask). The question then becomes, which of these distinctive “coins” is right for you relative to your situational needs for downside protection, upside opportunity, inflation hedging and overall utility? Below, Neptune offers his analysis of all three. ** Bitcoin In simple terms, Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system that utilizes an accounting ledger called the blockchain. Bitcoin is the unit of accounting. It can be used as a medium of exchange for some goods and services, but there has not been universal acceptance of Bitcoin as a form of payment. It has recently garnered attention as an asset class as the price has skyrocketed. Almost anyone can own a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin through sites such as Coinbase. Downside Protection The supply of Bitcoin is capped at $21 million, with approximately $18.5 million currently in circulation. The annual supply increases similar to that of gold, unlike monetary and fiscal policies that promote unlimited growth through the printing press. With 78% of the circulating Bitcoin classified as illiquid and not changing hands, there is not a high likelihood of sellers flooding the market. That being said, the price has been historically volatile as demand varies and competitor cryptocurrencies enter the market. Theoretically, the price could plummet to near-zero if demand shifts elsewhere or regulators step in with force, although Bitcoin has institutional traction and its loyal following is most likely here to stay. Upside Opportunity It is no secret that the price of Bitcoin has unlimited upside opportunity based on its supply and demand dynamics. Now almost everyone is getting in on the action. What might have been shocking news only a few years ago, even college endowments like Harvard, Yale, Brown and others have been placing bets on Bitcoin as have influential business leaders such as Elon Musk. It will be interesting to see whether Bitcoin can sustain its meteoric rise. Inflation Hedging As an inflation hedge, Bitcoin does not have a long track record, as it was created in 2009 just prior to a market expansion where we saw little inflation for the last decade. Although the supply may increase now at a rate consistent with inflation, its demand and the ensuing price history have been extremely volatile. As such, buyers are placing a bet that, regardless of their entry price, the performance of Bitcoin will outpace inflation over the long-term, despite high volatility. Overall Utility The technology around how Bitcoin is stored, sent and received is rapidly advancing. For example, the Bitpay wallet can now be added to Apple Pay to use Bitcoin as payment anywhere that accepts this type of monetary exchange. This is a significant development as there are over one billion active iPhones and these crypto-wallets can automatically settle transactions in the users’ currencies, potentially eliminating the risk of price volatility for transactions. Two other major benefits include portable wealth and instant liquidity for retail buyers. ** U.S. Rare Coins Collecting financial artifacts of various civilizations has been in high demand for over 2,000 years, from when wealthy Romans were collecting Greek coins up to the present day. Representing the birth of the United States economy, its sovereignty on the world stage and notable events throughout the nation’s history, the U.S. rare coins that have survived in spectacular condition have been in high demand from wealthy global collectors and investors since the birth of this young nation. Downside Protection There is a finite supply of high-end U.S. rare coins, which can be publicly verified on the census reports of the two major authentication companies: Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. These historical artifacts are not known to flood the market, as wealthy individuals with holding power generally do not need to liquidate them for less than their purchase price. Further, there is immense passion and competition to own the best trophies—why this market is known as the Hobby of Kings—which has evolved to sport for the affluent to locate and own these elusive artifacts in a private market. This passion-driven market with an extremely long track record has attracted investors to hold these highly sought-after assets as a long-term wealth protection strategy. As such, the market has demonstrated long term stability and steady price appreciation for well over a century based on these driven collectors and investors. Upside Opportunity The U.S. rare coin market has benefited from numerous advances in technology and other innovations, most recently the introduction of the two major certification companies in the 1980s, followed by the ubiquity of the Internet in the 2000s. Although the market has largely flown under the radar from institutional investors, there has been a massive increase in demand for U.S. rare coins over the last decade, which has ramped up during the pandemic, as wealthy individuals have more time to pursue their interests and compete (via a publicly available points system) to own the finest rare coin portfolios. According to Michael Contursi, Partner at Contursi Rare Coin Investments, “The high end of this market is currently dominated by ultra-wealthy, sophisticated collectors and investors who can afford to own multi-million dollar portfolios. Imagine if these assets could be fractionally owned by the masses. We are already currently seeing this in collectibles such as fine art and baseball cards. The upside for U.S. rare coins is astronomical when you consider the potential for an exponential increase in demand.” Inflation Hedging With unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, coupled with a finite supply of U.S. rare coins with intrinsic value, these assets have proven to be an excellent hedge against inflation due to this disequilibrium of supply and demand. As the least volatile of the three “coin” markets here, the high end value of the U.S. rare coin market can be a safe diversification tool for those seeking an inflation hedge, largely based on historical price appreciation data from the last 125 years. Overall Utility The two major certification companies secure these little treasures in sonically-welded holders with a certification number, barcode and other methods for protecting against counterfeit threats. Due to the weight and size of these items, owners can transport large amounts of wealth with extreme ease. Further, there are no reporting requirements for owning these assets, which makes them extremely private and can be a great way to retain wealth outside of the banking system in case of a financial meltdown or digital economy. ** Gold Bullion Coins There are many ways to participate in the gold (and silver) bullion markets, some of which include owning mining company stocks, futures contracts on the commodities exchanges, ETFs, or physical control. To this extent, gold bullion can be owned as both a digital asset (like Bitcoin) or a physical asset (like U.S. rare coins). Downside Protection Many people forget that from 1933 to 1975 it was illegal for Americans to own gold in the United States. Since then, investors have been making small allocations to gold as a diversified investment. It is globally-accepted that gold is a non-correlated, flight-to-safety asset during times of great uncertainty, such as The Great Recession of 2007-09 or the current global coronavirus pandemic. However, the spot price of gold is also extremely volatile, similar to Bitcoin, and the price could move significantly lower depending on one’s entry level to the market. Upside Opportunity The value of the U.S. dollar, as well as virtually every other major fiat currency, has drastically declined in its purchasing power over the last century. Since the gold market is currently transacted in U.S. dollars, it becomes cheaper for international buyers (mainly governments or large institutions) to own gold as an alternative to holding dollars or their own currencies as the currency continues to decline. For the retail investor, it is clearer than ever that fiat currencies will continue to decline as governments print an unlimited supply of money to monetize their debts. Similar to the masses that have already entered the Bitcoin frenzy, and those poised to enter the various collectibles markets such as U.S. rare coins, the upside opportunity for gold has already been demonstrated by the Reddit black swan event last month that caused silver spot prices to soar. The same could happen for gold, perhaps in a more sustained trajectory. Inflation Hedging Gold is known as an inflation hedge, which to some extent creates a self-fulfilling prophesy—as inflation expectations increase, institutions purchase gold and the increasing spot price protects their purchasing power. In addition, only approximately 2,500 to 3,000 tons of above ground gold are added to the global supply each year, with the majority used for jewelry. These relatively small increases to supply (similar to Bitcoin and finite rare coins) are a significant benefit when compared to printing binges for fiat currencies, thus helping protect against inflation. Overall Utility The utility of owning physical gold is primarily as a store of value where the owner maintains direct control and access to a tangible asset. Many believe they can use their gold to transact during a doomsday scenario, as these are uniform products owned globally. The downside is that gold is very heavy, making it difficult to store or transport. Nonetheless, it is highly liquid and easy to turn into cash during times of need, like an insurance policy. Which Coin is Right for You? All three of these “coins” have either a finite or slowly increasing supply, making them very attractive during times of economic uncertainty, as even relatively small increases in demand can move prices higher. Depending on needs, there is a case to be made to own any of these assets, including small positions in all three. According to Neptune, “Many of the families who invest with us side by side in the U.S. rare coin space also own small positions in cryptocurrencies and precious metals. Bitcoin is fun and people are speculating on its tremendous upside, whereas gold bullion is highly liquid and has a long track record as an inflation hedge. People have preconceived notions of all three markets, but I think with education and more transparency you will find more portfolios containing small allocations to all three of these assets.” As investors become more comfortable with the idea that they do not have to be renowned experts to own these tangible assets—similar to the idea that they do not need a Ph.D. in mechanical physics to drive a car—investors can utilize all three markets for various needs in a diversified portfolio. Since many financial advisors don’t yet know how to access or offer these types of alternative assets, they simply aren’t included in the investment mix and, thus, clients can’t reap the benefits—ostensibly suffering opportunity loss. Therefore, the prudent entrée to owning one (or all) of these “coins” is engaging with reputable companies or trusted experts. They will certainly help wealth-seekers make heads or tails of the burgeoning coin category. ~~~ Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist, futurist and marketplace trends pundit who reports on industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all B2C and B2B categories. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram, Twitter & Facebook @LuxeListReports Sources: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=58289 https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/default.htm https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttrends.htm https://cryptoguidepro.com/buy-fraction-piece-percentage-bitcoin/ https://news.bitcoin.com/data-shows-78-bitcoin-supply-illiquid-only-4-2m-btc-constant-circulation/ https://www.coindesk.com/harvard-yale-brown-endowments-have-been-buying-bitcoin-for-at-least-a-year-sources https://bitpay.com/wallet/ https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-supply/gold-mining/how-much-gold

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Spotlight

Commerzbank AG

Commerzbank is a leading international commercial bank with branches and offices in almost 50 countries. In the two business segments Private and Small Business Customers and Corporate Clients, the Bank offers a comprehensive portfolio of financial services which is precisely aligned to its clients’ needs. Commerzbank finances approximately 30% of Germany’s foreign trade and is the leading finance provider for corporate clients in Germany. Due to its in-depth sector know-how in the German economy, the Bank is a leading provider of capital market products. Its subsidiaries Comdirect in Germany and mBank in Poland are two of the world’s most innovative online banks.

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