How Financial Services Firms Can Avoid the Quarter-End Headache

It’s almost that time again…the end of the quarter. Marketing teams at financial firms around the globe are taking aspirin and getting sleep in while they can in preparation of the long, tedious hours ahead of updating sales and marketing materials. It’s an ironic process; firms make these updates a top priority yet the updating process that most employ is sufficiently outdated and inefficient.

Financial firms have created productivity problems for their marketing and distribution teams by using mostly manual processes for these quarter-end updates. As the quantity and complexity of investment products continue to grow, and clients come to expect more personalized experiences, these problems are only exacerbated. Instead of going through this robotic process again this year, let’s take a step back and think about what the quarterly update process really looks like:

  1. The quarter ends and a list of materials that need updating is created and sent to marketing
  2. Marketing manually gathers all the existing templates, logos, imagery and other graphics, hoping they’re the most updated
  3. Marketing sends requests for all updated data and information to all relevant internal and external sources
  4. Marketing makes the required changes to data and information, as well as necessary compliance disclosures, legal notices and footnotes, in each document
  5. First draft documents are submitted to all relevant stakeholders/compliance department and awaits feedback
  6. A number of edit rounds occur; marketing sends final draft to portfolio manager for approval
  7. Content is optimized for all distribution sources (web, print, mobile, etc.)
  8. Content is delivered to distribution sources

This whole process can take weeks or even months to complete—and then it’s nearly time to do it all over again. One Seismic customer, a leading capital management firm, stated that before using Seismic it took 30 days to conduct and update client reviews each quarter. But these updates no longer have to be an inevitable challenge each quarter. Here are a few ways marketers at financial firms can get ahead of the headache this quarter-end:

  • Create reusable document templates: Instead of having Marketing create new documents every quarter, firms should employ reusable templates that marketers can quickly change each quarter. These should be stored in a single repository so marketers can easily access them when the time comes to update. This will help cut back on time spent searching for the most recent versions of documents.
  • Streamline compliance and approval processes: One of the most frustrating and tedious parts of the quarter-end update process is Marketing’s repetitive outreach to Compliance and other approval teams for update edits and approvals. By using reusable templates, Compliance should only have to approve changes once, and marketing can incorporate those changes into multiple documents. This streamlines the process, saves marketing time, and lessens tension between marketing and compliance teams.
  • Connect data sources to content: A final tip for avoiding the quarter-end headache involves connecting data sources to “live” content. When data is changed or updated in a data source such as CRM, it should be linked directly to the document so it updates there as well. This “change once, publish everywhere” approach saves marketing a ton of time by eliminating manual changes, allows Compliance to rest easy about data accuracy, and shortens the update process drastically. One Seismic customer was able to save individuals 8-12 hours per week on manual report updates, just by integrating with its Salesforce database.

Content automation platforms can help financial firms perform all of the steps above and more. One Seismic customer shared the difference content automation has made for his firm’s productivity: “every three months, my team’s productivity would tail off because we had to grind through this chore. It’s great to be out from under it. Now we can stay focused on projects that have more potential to drive growth.” The three tips above should help you on your road to content automation, and hopefully will put the headaches at bay during this upcoming quarter-end.