Do financial partnerships drive consumer trust?

For this edition of Attest Investigates we’re addressing a super interesting submission about how the existence of financial partnerships affects consumer trust.

Say hello to Attest Investigates! A series where I use the Attest platform to test popular hypotheses and answer your burning questions.

As a trained scientist, I am obsessed with experimentation, empiricism and using data to make decisions. We’ll delve into all things consumer research, using a scientific analysis style to lift the lid on the most important unknowns for brands, as requested by you!

Introduction and hypothesis

Can people trust a financial brand they haven’t heard of? If that brand partners with a recognised name, are consumers more willing to use the product? 

Here’s an ingoing hypothesis: people (of all demographics) will exercise varying ranges of caution when thinking about which financial products to use, and will choose a partnership with a known brand over an unknown, standalone product.

Method

We surveyed 250 UK national representative consumers to get to the root of this. 

You can see the full results from this research – head over to the Attest dashboard and have a play with the awesome demographic filters to dive deeper into the data.

Results

People are unlikely to simply start using an entirely unknown financial brand

Initially, to gauge consumers’ comfort with financial brands they don’t recognise, we asked how likely they are to use a financial brand they haven’t heard of before. Across all demographics the results were:

  • Very likely – 12%
  • Quite likely  26%
  • Not very likely – 39%
  • Not at all likely – 22%

That’s 61% of people saying they’re unlikely to use a financial brand that’s new to them. An expected result. People tend to demonstrate caution with financial products, and with very good reason. Building trust in a new brand – especially in personal, detailed activities like financial services – is hard (and expensive). 

It is still notable, however, that 38% are likely to consider/use an unknown brand – this is a sizable amount and should be an encouragement to fintech startups. 

We also see slight increases in people’s likelihood to use an unknown brand as we travel down the age spectrum:

  • Millennials – 40% chose Very/Quite likely
  • Gen Z – 45% chose Very/Quite likely

And while this builds encouragement for young fintechs, it’s worth positing that financial caution seems to grow with age. We absolutely shouldn’t take it for granted that younger generations will be more open to financial products later in life, just because they seem more open now.

And what if an unknown brand partners with a household name?

Getting to the nub of the issue of financial partnerships and if/how much they nurture consumer trust, we asked how much likelihood to use a new financial brand would change if that unknown brand partnered with a recognisable one. 

The results are emphatic: 

  • 81% said they’re more likely to use an unknown brand if it partnered with one they knew. 

As with the previous section, we also see slight increases among younger generations: 

  • 84% of Gen Z said they’re Very/Quite more likely to use a partnering brand. 

While it’s clear that it’s in the best interest of challengers to partner with established incumbents, great new partnerships partnerships:

  • Can work well for both sides (incumbents lending credibility and legacy, in exchange for new, flashy products that help to build/retain market share).
  • Beat non-partnerships’ brand innovation by a distance in willingness to try/use, especially with younger target customers.

What factors and features are important to consumers?

Going one level deeper, we asked our consumers to rank a range of typical features and traits that make up a financial partnership. 

These were the top three factors that placed in first position:

  1. Clarity on what the product is – Why is this partnership a good idea for me?
  2. Regulation of partner brands – What value does the incumbent create?
  3. One brand to be recognisable – Where does the credibility come from?

And, because why not, here are the three least important factors:

  1. Seeing ads about the partnership
  2. Seamless integration with an existing product
  3. For all partner brands to be recognisable

What can brands glean from this? Caution is clearly still a major factor in people’s financial decisions. They want to know exactly what they’re signing up for – nail the messaging and product interface, and consumers will be on board. 

Future scope

A particularly useful angle to explore in this vein would be to explore the areas in which brands should invest – should they focus on partnerships or on nurturing their own brand and product?

And, because this fantastic Attest Explains submission came from a UK-based member of my network, we asked UK residents. It would of course be super interesting to delve into the thoughts of consumers in other markets, particularly in the US. 

Conclusion

It seems we still live in a post-Financial Crisis era, in which consumers remember all too vividly being burned by un/loosely-regulated financial services. As we see from the data, for people to trust financial services, they have to see why brands deserve their trust. 

Even more interesting, some of the ‘trusted’ brands involved that register as great prospective partners for challengers… well, they’re the ones that were front and centre in the Financial Crisis. Consumer memory is either shorter than many may think, or large incumbents in finance have done a great job of repositioning for long-term credibility after the Financial Crisis.

Either way, with partnership products and services becoming more and more prevalent, financial brands must build trust in consumers to make sure they become customers.  

Our data shows just how cautious consumers of all ages are when it comes to their finances, and this must be reflected in brands’ products, messaging and go-to-market strategies. Finding out exactly what consumer think and feel about these products is crucial – at Attest we make this simple and quick.

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Jeremy King

CEO 

Jeremy founded Attest in mid-2015, following 9 years leading global teams across industries at McKinsey & Company. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, originally trained as a scientist with a focus on genetics, ecology and animal behaviour, and also helps to improve state primary schools with his charity work.

See all articles by Jeremy