Flipping the fintech script

Why US fintech disruptors need to take notice of established financial services brands.

There’s no shortage of articles and blog posts about what can be learned by banks and financial institutions from start-ups and (so-called) disruptive fintechs.

Established brands are characterized as being stuffy and dry, as needing to be ‘more human’, ‘more customer-centric’, ‘more digital’, ‘more disruptive’ – and some US banks, such as Chase, are actually following this advice.

But, as we’ve seen, the B2B fintech world overall is becoming more bland and samey. To an extent, this is reflected in an overall drop in fintech investment globally (although both the US and UK are still very much holding their own).

On the other hand, the US banking & finance industry is at it’s biggest high for the last decade:

And with some brilliant marketing activity coming from this space, we actually think that it’s the disruptors which could learn a thing or two from the incumbents.

Amex-ing things out

American Express has been around for almost 175 years, but you’d be hard-pushed to find a finance brand that does more impactful or more effective B2B marketing.

They’re the brand that created Small Business Saturday – an annual celebration of SMEs which was championed by Barack Obama when he was president – which is now, alongside Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an established shopping holiday in the US.

Their partnerships with social influencers and utilization of emerging technologies and platforms – including Instagram and a members hub built on Medium – shows that Amex really does take a fresh approach to all things B2B.

Banking the trend

We’re now also seeing best-in-class marketing from US banks – historically some of the ‘safer’ brands out there. 

Citizens Bank, which has a big East Coast presence (and also where Earnezt is based) recently partnered with Questlove – probably the world’s coolest individual – to help revitalise their marketing.

The ‘Made Ready’ campaign is creatively strong and also embraces smart glassware tech to help appeal to a younger audience, getting them to provide crowdsourced campaign content.


Finally, Umpqua Bank based out of Oregon have been around since 1953 and are growing at a fast pace. They take a bold, human, and digitally-savvy approach to their marketing, with initiatives such as:

  • Open Account’ – a podcast series that discusses the role of money in modern American life
  • The Seed and the Moon’ – a beautifully-made short film on the subject of growth
  • Exhibit: Growth‘ – an experiential art installation which toured the West coast


[Header photo: dylan nolte on Unsplash]

Whether it’s creating a movement, teaming up with B2B influencers, or producing emotive content – there’s plenty that the world of new fintech’s can learn from the old-school.


[Header photo: dylan nolte on Unsplash]