Our next conversation in the series features Caroline Cairns, the Client Services Director at marketing agency, Editions Financial.
What are the biggest challenges facing the agency sector right now? And what is specific to your industry, financial services?
I don’t think any sector has escaped the wake of the pandemic’s impact on talent acquisition and retention. We’ve noticed client teams being increasingly stretched and that can have a knock-on impact on our projects. Longer-term planning is tricky, so agencies need to be far more agile and swift to respond to demand.
ESG remains a huge focus for the FS sector, so accurate reporting and transparency of information are crucial. Similarly, regulation is an essential area for us to be aware of, particularly in newer areas such as digital assets. Keeping up to date with legislation and compliance is key.
Where are the big/new opportunities?
Much like the major challenges, the big new opportunities also stem from this changing landscape. Innovation is a huge focus for both clients and agencies so it’s an exciting time to see new platforms, new products and new ways of interacting coming to the fore. We’ll also see more from disruptor FS brands which will push further change and innovation which is always exciting.
Customer expectations are also changing. What people expect from a brand is evolving. People have higher expectations not just in terms of UX, but also in terms of a brand’s authenticity and purpose. That opens up opportunities in terms of content to tell a deeper story around a brand for us.
Perhaps the recruitment challenges will also bring about positive change since agencies and clients will have to look more widely for their next hires. We may see new recruits coming from a range of sectors, and with this brings refreshing new ideas and new approaches.
How (if at all) has remote working impacted creativity and creative collaborations?
As an agency with global clients and colleagues, we were pretty lucky in that distance working and collaboration wasn’t brand new to us during the pandemic. We just had to adapt to everyone now being remote. However, I felt it really made communication between the creative team and the strategic and account handling teams stronger. We focussed on overcoming physical distances by putting an emphasis on frequent, open and clear communication amongst one another…and I’m sure the creative teams don’t miss us hovering around their desks anymore!
I think we do all miss the in-person presentation of creative work. You can sometimes feel like you’re in a little vortex on a video call without having the usual body language cues we’re all used to in real life meetings. So, although remote presenting is really efficient – especially when working with clients who have teams across the country and beyond, I think we’ll still push to get in the room again as often as possible.
Same question, but for client relationships and building rapport/trust?
Strangely, for some of our accounts, switching to video calls during the pandemic actually meant increased client contact and so has strengthened our relationships.
Many of our clients are based around the globe and so in-person meetings were never a weekly occurrence, but with video calls, we receive more face-to-face time which we’ve continued even now that travel has opened up again.
During the pandemic, we won some new accounts and didn’t meet the clients in person – something unheard of a few years ago. But it’s a great sign when you almost don’t realise you’ve never met in real life. I recently had an in-person meeting with a client and we both laughed when we met in the foyer because we both expected the other to be taller after a year of just seeing each other sitting on video calls! Zoom is a great equaliser for short people like me!
What keeps you motivated/excited?
I think I’ll always be in awe of those moments when you see a genius concept perfectly executed as an advertising campaign. And as someone on the inside, I can also fully appreciate the countless hours of behind-the-scenes work (and negotiations!) to get to that final point. I get a real buzz from seeing smart work reaching people and genuinely making them react. The process to get there is very rewarding, working with bright people and brainstorming ideas is a favourite point of each day for me.
Seeing younger professionals develop and grow in confidence in the industry is also a great feeling. I did some mentoring work with graduates in my last role and surprised myself with how much I got out of working with them as they set out in their careers.
What is your crowning/proudest career moment ever?
For me, I think it’s more like a thousand little moments that all contribute to my career achievements to date. From things like client wins, innumerable funny moments with colleagues, brainstorms where the big idea is nailed out of the blue, nurturing teams and seeing them thrive – it’s all these parts which make me feel really privileged to be working in a career I love.
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