12th September 2022

Interview with Kamyar Naficy, Founder of KNECTCOMMS

Financial services firms need to manage their brand, reputation and growth in a fast-changing world. International Investor Magazine caught up with Kamyar Naficy, founder of KNECTCOMMS, to learn more about his company and discuss financial marketing and communications trends.


First, please could you give us an overview of your company and what it does?

I am the founder of KNECTCOMMS, a strategic communications consultancy dedicated to the finance and fintech sector. We’re based in London but operate globally, working with investment banking, capital markets and asset management businesses, as well as fintech entrants disrupting various aspects of these markets with new and exciting ways of doing business. We also help professional services firms, technology and data providers, and other suppliers and vendors who serve the market. In addition, we’re increasingly involved with family offices that are playing an ever-greater role in capital markets.

We provide marketing and public relations counsel to drive business development and growth, manage reputation and crises, and help support fundraising. Most of our clients are communicating with specialised B2B buyers of their services, or with institutional investors or financial counterparties, and are looking to influence a buying or investment decision.


Linked to this is our financial communications work, which is sector agonistic. We help companies from various different industries with their communications needs in support of financial transactions such as IPOs and M&As.


How did the idea for your company come about?

I previously worked in marketing and communications roles at global financial institutions, including JP Morgan, London Stock Exchange Group and UniCredit. As well as managing their communications, I often worked on joint marketing and communications campaigns with their partners, counterparties, vendors and suppliers. This was often a constellation of smaller firms, some of which were very agile and innovative. Increasingly, I was seeing the large and small players cooperate and work together. But I noticed there was limited agency support that understood and operated in both worlds and could help both groups with their marketing and communications efforts, especially when they collaborated.


I also noticed that in-house teams often look for agencies that provide not just expertise, experience and network but also an approach that fits seamlessly into their own way of operating. For example, companies look for agencies that can hit the ground running and quickly figure out the true communications requirements for

particular products or markets, or how and when to work with the in-house communications team versus the executives in the business, or when to act as an idea generator and when to focus on tactical execution. It all depends on the brief of course but often agency staff who have worked in-house have a more intuitive grasp of these issues.


Seeing this gap, I established KNECTCOMMS to help firms and the industry innovate and progress, and to commercialise new ways of doing business, find new markets and better serve customers. I wanted to deliver fresh thinking, excellent execution and deep experience of what actually works on the ground, especially in our core B2B finance market where we know the stakeholders, markets and media well.


What are you focussed on now?

Our focus is always on understanding the unique needs of the client and providing smart, thoughtful and integrated communications support to help them achieve their long-term goals. As a senior-led consultancy, we have extensive experience working in-house at leading financial institutions. We have walked in our clients’ shoes and understand the pressures they’re under and the need for highly effective communications that drive true business value.


A major focus of our approach is thought leadership and content marketing. This is one of the main ways for a financial business to signal its competence and character. And it’s particularly important in B2B where trust and credibility are crucial to success. Content needs to be technically and intellectually sound and convincing. But it also needs to be engaging and inspiring. It can make all the difference when influencing stakeholders to take action, especially when deployed at the right times in the buyer or investor journey.


So we’re often called upon to develop and manage programmes for clients that demonstrate their thought leadership or specialist insight and deliver it through the right channels. This involves establishing the strategic approach, writing white papers, creating content for client marketing or fundraising campaigns, and managing conference, speaker and panel opportunities. Third party endorsement is particularly important to build trust and credibility, so we often emphasise public relations and work with the media to showcase our clients’ content and achieve media coverage. It’s crucial this is all done in a strategic and holistic way to maximise the benefits of the different channels and tactics.


What trends are you seeing in financial marketing and communications?

Content remains king. Developing high-quality content that inspires customers and other stakeholders to take action is crucial. And the use of digital channels to distribute that content continues to grow in importance. Given the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation, creating content that works in a digital and remote-first environment is important. This requires marketers and communicators to become increasingly multi-disciplinary in their skills and approach.


Sustainability topics, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, are increasingly important to all stakeholders. We’re seeing businesses engage us on developing ESG communications and integrating these into their wider communications to key stakeholders. The narrative has moved on from why ESG is

important to how it’s being delivered. So businesses need to communicate their ESG progress and results, not just their plans and commitments. It’s important to develop

an overarching ESG narrative and communications plan that spans customers, employees, media, investors, regulators, suppliers and vendors. It should be coherent

and consistent but also resonate with each stakeholder group.


It will also be fascinating to watch the interaction between incumbent financial institutions and fintech innovators. This will increasingly take the form of collaboration as well as competition. Marketing and communications professionals need to excel at partnership marketing, as well as the other marketing services disciplines, such as public relations, advertising and content marketing. Partnerships need to be articulated properly to all stakeholders and their perceptions continuously assessed and fed back to the business to implement improvements. Channels, tactics and audiences will all need to be leveraged through collaborative marketing efforts by both partners in the partnership. The success of partnership marketing will drive the success of the partnership as a whole.


Finally, I would add that we’re increasingly seeing marketing and communications leaders take their seat at the executive table and that’s essential for the long-term success of the business. Finance, banking and investment firms face numerous threats and opportunities, significant market disruption, and multiple choices for how to market and communicate their proposition to the market. Carefully developing, calibrating and managing communications – across its component parts of strategy, content and distribution – is crucial for laying the groundwork and building sustainable value.