There is so much noise out there, it’s overwhelming. Who do you listen to? It all seems to be the same and the financial services industry is the worst. If it’s not the TV bobble heads on Bloomberg talking about the same story 24/7/365, then it’s the wanna-be-journalists writing the same stuff over and over again, that nobody reads or cares about or even understands. I don’t want to be that guy who adds to the noise.
That’s why I’ve kept quiet. That’s why I’ve given my marketing guy, Bastiaan, a tough time by not writing articles or blogs or tweets or whatever it is that is expected in this digital merry go round. Does the world really need another mouth vomiting more noise?
Does the world give a shit? Am I allowed to swear? Would I lose business if I am myself? If I had a PR or image consultancy company advising me, they would probably change my look, tell me to wear a tie, shave and definitely not to swear. This is the financial services industry and we manage people’s money. We are expected to look and speak like a financial services professional, which is the problem. Top professionals who are trusted by the public to manage their money are expected to behave in a certain way. That’s just the way it is, we must all be robots and we mustn’t be ourselves.
That’s not me, that’s not who I am. I do not look like an investment manager, I look like me. I can’t be somebody else. I’m trying to be the best me, I can be. This is the struggle; should I conform? Should I tone it down? How should I speak? What should I speak about?
I love to read. But the stuff the financial services industry is spitting out is boring! Where is the entertainment? Why do they use such big words? Are they just trying to show people who aren’t reading their articles that they are super clever? I’m in the industry, I love what we do and I want to learn and improve but I’ve stopped reading their crap. If the financial services industry has lost my attention, how do we expect the so called man in the street to be paying attention?
The world we live in has changed dramatically but the financial services industry still thinks it’s the 80s. Traditional media has lost people’s attention. We are not all watching the 8pm movie on Sunday after Carte Blanche. If we want to watch a TV show we stream it, I can get anything I want by pushing a button. Trust me, I’ve done it many times.
We are living in the attention age, where everyone wants our attention. You can become an Instagram or YouTube sensation overnight. People are famous for being famous. WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for billions before it made one cent in revenue. What is Facebook or WhatsApp anyway? Genius or a bubble?
I can watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it. I don’t need to flick through channels or watch dreadful ads. I can Uber, I don’t need to drive my kids around, because Uber does it for me. I love Uber, my kids love Uber and Uber loves us. I can get drunk and disorderly and Uber will get me home safely.
I can AirBnB and stay with total strangers who will be my hosts anywhere in the world. I don’t need to know anything, I can Google it. Why do we send our kids to school? All the information I need is on my phone. That’s another thing. You can mess with my wife but don’t mess with my phone. My phone is my life.
It’s 2016 and the financial services industry is still the financial services industry . It hasn’t changed. I hate going to our industry presentations. They are as sexy as Bakkies Botha in a thong, but the financial services industry says it’s good to stay the same. You can trust us they say. Especially the big brands, Give us your money because you know us and you can trust us, really? Does the public really know the big brands?
No, the public just knows the names of the big brands because the large financial services companies throw millions at marketing that nobody is really paying attention to, but after a while, if a big fat lazy rich kid on the playground is screaming all day long, you will eventually know his name even if you haven’t heard a word he has said.
People are like sheep, they go to the big brands because they feel safe. We all want to feel clever. Everyone else is doing it so it must be the right choice and if it doesn’t work out then I won’t look stupid because everyone else made the same stupid decision.
The world is about brands. The bigger the better, but are those brands the best? Are those brands performing? Does MacDonald’s really have the best burgers or is just “convenient” to go to the big brands. The big brands must be doing something right to be a big brand, right? Or are they the big brands because they have been around for a long time and just like cockroaches, they are hard to die?
What do the big brands do? What does the financial services industry do? They do everything in their power to make you feel like you’re safe and that you can trust them, because they have been around longer than your grandmother. They write articles that real people don’t pay any attention to. They might as well speak Russian because they use terminology that nobody understands. They look clever on TV with their big words. They make a lot of noise that nobody understands and I’ve just added to it, but I’m going to be myself, nobody else.