Traditional financial institutions have been working for a number of years to develop deeper consumer relationships centred more around consultation and guidance. The pandemic has made this challenging, and in fact, recent reports suggest Canadians’ trust in banks has been declining. Only 34 percent trust big banks “a lot” to look after their long-term financial well-being, down from 47 percent two years ago, according to research from Accenture.
However, the current housing market frenzy—and consequent consumer anxiety—could be an opportunity for the banks to deepen their engagement with customers. Prices for new and existing homes have been rising sharply: StatsCan’s Consumer Price Index, which is closely tied to the price of new homes, rose 7 per cent year over year on Wednesday, March 17—the largest increase since 2007 (the beginning of the global recession).
This kind of market volatility leaves consumers feeling unsettled. Yes, there’s opportunity for sellers, but for those buying—and, more than ever, for those trying to get into the market—there is uncertainty and even frustration.
By addressing that sentiment in a way that’s relatable and, where possible, personalized, the banks have a chance to reinforce their role as relevant, invested financial leaders. They need to be seen as adding value and easing anxiety—trusted experts who “get it” and are thinking ahead on behalf of their customers.
To do that, their communications need to:
A single person or young family might want to know about creative ways to finance a down payment. A retired couple might be more interested in a reverse mortgage or downsizing. Not targeting these differences—or addressing them with the wrong audience—is a sure way to erode relevance and credibility.
Relatability comes from being targeted, and from taking a straightforward, transparent communications approach—for example, by raising and responding to consumers’ most pressing questions head-on:
- Will I ever be able to afford a house?
- Will the market get much hotter?
- Is the housing bubble going to burst again?
- Is now the best time to sell?
The stability and strength of Canadian banks is renowned around the globe (and helped minimize our collective fallout from the 2008 recession). Now’s the time for our banks to capitalize on that reputation and remind consumers of the supporting role they play in Canadians’ financial well-being.