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Compliance takes too long and we’re perpetually at odds: financial marketers share their woes in new study

  • Eight out of ten senior marketing professionals in financial services (82%) see their relationship with legal/compliance as adversarial
  • 79% think the process takes too long
  • However, 84% of legal/compliance specialists think that it would be much easier to complete reviews if they didn’t have to check the basics repeatedly.
  • 85% of all respondents think productive conversations about how to make things happen are needed.

New research has highlighted the continuing tensions between the marketing and legal/compliance teams in the financial services sector.

Eight out of ten senior marketing professionals (82%) in the UK, US and Australia admit that they see their relationship with compliance and legal as adversarial and ‘us and them’, while a similar number (81%) believe that those teams get in the way of marketing getting its job done.

When it comes to getting ad copy or other marketing content reviewed and approved, 79% of marketers think the process takes too long and say there are too many steps to go through. A quarter (25%) also believe new(er) channels like social media lack a comprehensive set of rules for compliance.

And yet, eight out of ten marketers (80%) believe that being fast and nimble is the key to success.

In fact, the relationship between marketing, legal and compliance – or lack thereof – is seen by marketers as their single biggest challenge (28% think so) in the compliance review process.

However, it’s certainly not just the legal team’s fault: 84% of legal/compliance specialists think that it would be much easier to complete reviews if they didn’t have to check the basics repeatedly. More than a quarter (28%) also say that marketers seek approval too late in the creative process.

The study was commissioned by software company Red Marker. It surveyed 550 senior marketing, legal and compliance specialists across the UK, US and Australia, working in organisations across the financial services, retail banking and insurance sectors with 5,000+ employees.

Mark Wood, COO at Red Marker comments: “The tension between marketing and legal/compliance illustrates that the delicate balance between creativity and compliance can easily become adversarial.

“The marketing compliance process has traditionally been under-analysed and there has been a lack of optimisation, with a certain ‘we have a process’ complacency. Many organisations have built quick-fix solutions or outsourced this process, but new technology means there’s no longer an excuse for inefficiency and apathy.

“With organisations identified as having misled customers receiving publicised penalties, there’s nothing more important than ensuring the marketing compliance process is watertight. That starts at the most basic level with robust communication and openness between teams.”

Although the research didn’t identify a single change that would drastically improve the compliance review process for marketers, the change respondents frequently felt would be most useful was automatic ‘suggested changes’ for compliant content so they can change anything risky.

It also found that common ground exists and is hugely important: the majority of legal and compliance teams (89% agree) and marketers (81% agree) think that the ideal review process would have the minimum amount of human subjectivity.

Furthermore, 85% of marketers believe that they need productive conversations with their legal and/or compliance counterparts about how they can make things happen more efficiently.

The study also highlighted the value of technology. Almost all marketers (95%) think AI-based solutions that intelligently scan marketing content for compliance would improve the review process: 33% think it would make the process faster and 32% think it could provide automated checking of standard marketing content like disclaimers, sources, T&Cs, etc.

Although unsurprisingly, their main concern about using AI (31% agree) is identifying what happens and who would be accountable if an AI tool missed a risk.

Wood adds: “One of the key barriers between these teams is the stereotypes: marketers seeing legal and compliance as being deliberately hindering, versus legal/compliance teams seeing marketers as too ‘gung-ho’.

“Giving marketing teams the training and tools to consider compliance issues early and often could pave the way towards a more symbiotic partnership.

“However, cooperation is paramount and both sides agree that they need to work together more efficiently to improve the business and help it meet its overall goals. That means having constructive conversations – and it could also mean using AI-driven technology to enhance processes by focusing on automation and standardisation.”



For further information contact:

Rose Haanen – Marketing Director

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