Brands2Life interviews

Aniq Ahmed, CCO at Perenna Bank

Last month we hosted the latest iteration of our blossoming Tech Trends Lates series – in which we focused on how communicators can build trust in an increasingly sharp-elbowed fintech environment. In addition to the comprehensive panel discussion (which you can read about here), we also sat down with a handful of PR pros who have direct experience building exciting brands in the fintech space.

Our first interview is with Aniq Ahmed, Chief Communications Officer at Perenna Bank – the digital mortgage bank – who discussed how to take an issues-based approach to building communications programmes, emotionally connecting with your audience, and how transparency is crucial in agency-client relationships.

1. How do you navigate the internal challenges of convincing the business that you need to move away from product comms and onto issue or theme based communication strategies?

At Perenna, our product was born out of the issue of homeownership in the UK – so I haven’t had to navigate that particular challenge. Every aspect of our work – from external communications to engaging with politicians and stakeholders – stems from this central issue. It can’t be right that first time buyers are now in their 40s and 50s, with that age group being the fastest-growing among first time buyers. This mission is at the heart of our communications strategy and is felt passionately across the whole organisation.

2. In a sea of uniform messages, a lot of companies turn to data to make their issue or theme stand out. Have you seen anything that’s really interesting in terms of uses of data, and why has that made an impact on you?

Over the last four or five years, there has been somewhat of an explosion in data that tells us how broken the housing market is for homeownership, which undoubtedly makes it more challenging to find what’s pertinent.

The differentiation comes when companies use data to tell a personalised story. This is nothing new of course. For example, combining data on housing market trends with personal stories of individuals who have successfully navigated these challenges are what creates a powerful narrative that resonates emotionally and intellectually.

For us to connect with our customers and stakeholders, data is useful. But we recognise that it’s how you use the data to tell a story that counts. It’s about how you can emotionally connect with your audience, gain their trust and provide them with a solution.

It should never be data for data’s sake; it’s the story itself that will cut through the noise.

3. Do you see value in attending big flagship FinTech events, like Money 2020, in terms of the story you’re trying to tell?

I definitely see value in big flagship events like Money 2020 and attend several a year myself. They offer invaluable opportunities for networking and collaboration, bringing together a diverse range of voices from startups to industry leaders and investors. Being in a room filled with ambition is contagious and creates a buzz that’s hard to replicate.

Echoing one of the panellists at this Fintech Lates, it’s about building communities. We’ve spent the last four years establishing our presence, but we recognise that we can’t do everything on our own. That’s where leaning on the fintech ecosystem at these events provides great value. We actively seek to partner with specialists in their respective niches to ensure the best possible outcomes for our customers.

4. Have you seen any communication tactics from brands, whether that be partners or competitors or other industries that you admire?

Trust is at an all-time-low. Followers of Edelman’s trust barometer would know those who command the most trust are typically visionary founders or leaders with a strong mission that can be communicated clearly and credibly.

Rocket Lab’s CEO, for example, actively engages on social media, alongside the corporate account, establishing personal connections that cultivate trust through direct interaction. In contrast, repetitive corporate messaging breeds scepticism and risks alienating your audience. I think people are simply tired of inauthentic messaging followed up by uninspiring actions.

5. Are there any particular channels where you think an executive voice works most effectively?

Linkedin is the clear winner. It’s a great channel for founders to create a community that champions their mission. The platform lends itself well to longer-form thought leadership content, elevating the message beyond a strapline to in-depth insights, industry commentary and meaningful discussion that resonate with a broader professional audience. It does depend however. We all have different sides to ourselves and being active across all social platforms helps to tell your complete story. So I do recommend trying out others as well particularly if it aligns very closely with your target customer.

6. What are the key ingredients for a good agency-client relationship?

Transparency; a readiness to address mistakes promptly. Most agencies can tell you the journalists they have relationships with, or show you great work they’ve done with other clients. But in a fast-paced environment where changes occur frequently, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s about owning up, rectifying those mistakes, and being transparent that makes for a strong and long-lasting relationship.

To learn more about Brands2Life expertise in Fintech and Financial Services please visit here.