Dunstan Thomas Holdings is a fast-growing IT software and consultancy business with over 30 years’ expertise in the pensions market and a highly sophisticated suite of bespoke front and back office software tools
Re-positioning Dunstan Thomas for business growth
Dunstan Thomas’ original expertise was in providing calculation engines and pensions illustrations capabilities to pension providers and platforms. However, it had now built a much wider range of solutions, helping companies meet specific IT and regulatory compliance challenges including modernising legacy systems, engaging customers and creating usable, yet highly secure online servicing portals.
There was an urgent need to inform the market about Dunstan Thomas’ new capabilities and the increasing depth of expertise, particularly following the acquisition of financial services portal specialist Digital Keystone in late 2015.
Devising a consumer insights-led customer engagement campaign
Linked to a desire to increase market opportunities for implementation of Digital Keystone’s Adaptive Portal technology, Agility PR gained CEO-level agreement to develop a PR campaign designed to shine a spotlight on the importance of digital customer engagement for investment and pensions providers, platforms and wealth managers.
The idea was to demonstrate that Dunstan Thomas now had strong technical expertise and capability in the important areas of building improved online customer experiences (CX) and user-friendly interfaces and portals.
Agility PR proposed a highly ambitious consumer market research-led campaign, with detailed questionnaires to be completed by a representative nationwide sample of millennials aged 23 to 36, probing their current financial ambitions, savings habits and use of technology for helping to manage their financial affairs.
Insights gained from the findings of the 1,000-person survey were then summarised and launched to the pensions and investment trade media and personal finance nationals, garnering more than a dozen pieces of significant coverage and numerous interview and speaking opportunities.
Video vox pop highlights
To draw attention to key insights from this research, Agility PR directed a 4-day video shoot interviewing 10 or more millennials in each of London, Bristol and Liverpool. Adding these vox pops created highly visual insights. Agility PR worked with the videographer to produce one ‘highlights’ video and 4 other shorter vignette videos which highlighted specific sets of commonalities/ behaviours. The videos gave us a great platform to highlight specific behavioural insights which gave this campaign a highly effective edge.
Delivering millennial consumer insights
Where CX and functionality had been properly considered in financial mobile apps, millennials had become enthusiasts, even evangelists for specific banks or pension providers.
Their apps had worked to stimulate saving for holidays or the deposit on a couple’s first home, micro-investing in commodities and complex budgeting activities.
By contrast, where providers kept sending large reams of annual review-style paperwork, engagement levels proved low – one pension saver admitting he had no idea how much was in his retirement pot having ‘seen’ the paperwork.
In-depth thought leadership
Agility PR developed a 40-page report of the Dunstan Thomas Millennials Study. We worked with Dunstan Thomas’ in-house digital design team to complete the report which was then launched to the trade media.
The finding formed the basis of presentations which Dunstan Thomas directors made to forums at key trade bodies including TISA. During early 2018, marketing mailers were created to showcase key elements of the content created for this campaign.
Insights gleaned have been used repeatedly in industry roundtable discussions, referenced in trade media-commissioned by-lined articles and online roundtable discussions.
Delivering a second successful campaign
Such was the success of this campaign that Agility PR gained the go-ahead for a second campaign to shine a spotlight on the financial status and retirement plans of Baby Boomers aged 54 to 71 years old going up and into retirement. Yet more insights were gleaned from this second nationwide study. A series of 20 video interviews were also shot in two locations. We found that the average ‘full’ retirement age is now 69 years old and that ‘semi-retirement’ up to and even beyond that age was rife. We found out that about two-thirds of this generation are not taking regulated financial advice as they approach retirement and that levels of engagement were still quite low despite the advent of Pension Freedoms which demands some tricky decision-making to help optimise retirement income levels.
A press release of findings was launched to the trade and personal finance media, as before generating significant coverage across all key IFA trades. The 45-page report of findings was published in December and attracted further coverage.
Results: Dunstan Thomas extended the reach of its brand
The campaign served to highlight that Dunstan Thomas had stepped beyond its core back office administration, calculation engine and SMPI capabilities and into digital engagement and transformation projects.
Significant orders followed – linked to this capability – as perception became reality – and the business went from strength to strength as it took on parts of the value chain which were previously the preserve of only the large enterprise technology platform players.
In the first half of 2018, Agility PR assisted Dunstan Thomas in beginning to port content created for the media and in the Engagement campaign, across to marketing automation mailers to help support sales development more directly. From the second half of 2018, Dunstan Thomas’ in-house marketing team continued rolling out marketing automation campaigns aimed at wealth management firm prospects.
Chris Read, Group CEO, Dunstan Thomas Group:
“Miles at Agility PR has an ability to accurately read where we are heading. He then makes sure that our PR, media and marketing content is fully-aligned with that positioning. Like all fintech businesses this is a moving target, so the trick is to use creative campaigns, combined with fresh and insightful content to ‘thought lead’ – helping us increase our profile and engage more deeply with both prospects and existing customers alike.”