COVID-19 has forced change on many industries all around the world; pushing businesses and individuals into a digital transformation that they may have preferred to forestall. Given these changes, the resulting growth in e-commerce and e-business shouldn’t be that surprising. Retail and business services have had to rethink their current and future approaches to success and growth. The finance industry is no different. 

Meet Roger Leng, head of the E-Business and Digital Marketing team at UOB Kay Hian. An experienced marketer and content strategist, Roger has worked in and around the finance industry for many years. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as Roger takes us through his experiences in the industry, navigating the changes and challenges of digital marketing and the essential digital transformation of the global pandemic.

Hi, Roger, thank you for taking part in the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with some background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Hi! I currently lead the E-business and Digital marketing team at UOB Kay Hian. Previously, I was the Head of Content and Marketing for, the business-to-consumer division at iFAST. 

During my time at iFAST, there were marketing agencies that used to come to us to pitch their strategies to increase our web visibility and to “clean up” our technical setup so that our webpages are “search-friendly”. It was during this time that I realised it is much better to learn the basics of digital marketing to better understand and be able to relate to their suggestions and validate their claims. Hence, I took up a digital marketing course at the General Assembly and that is how I ended up where I am today.

Was there something that drew you to this line of work? Were there any specific experiences that attracted you to it?

When we were advertising on Facebook and Instagram, I was intrigued by the potential outreach which could number to millions of viewers since everybody is on social media these days.

Furthermore, I was very interested in the ways we could design the website from a technical standpoint to make sure Google “can find us” and the potential clients will “see us” at the front page of their search results.

As you mentioned, right now you are the Head of E-Business and Digital Marketing for UOB Kay Hian. Can you tell us a bit more about how E-Business and Digital Marketing fit together?

E-business at UOB Kay Hian refers to the equity trading business. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the commitment from the biggest Central Banks in the world to shore up the financial systems, there is an increasing number of first-time users who are just starting out with trading.

More importantly, demographically, these users belong to the emerging affluent generation aged between 25 to 40 years old. They will be on social media on a daily basis and most of their daily routine tasks are digital.

In order to reach this audience, UOB Kay Hian needed to engage in digital marketing to showcase who we are and let people know about our capabilities. We are then able to capture a certain percentage of their mindshare and follow with remarketing strategies.

You have a bit of experience in the finance industry in Southeast Asia. How have marketing strategies evolved for the world of finance over the last few years?

The strategies have certainly evolved tremendously over the past 3-5 years. I would say that COVID-19 has accelerated this evolution, and now more and more businesses recognise that adopting some form of digital marketing is essential to their survival and success in the future.

On a cost-benefit analysis, the ability to reach out to a specific target audience for a fraction of the cost is certainly very attractive to the executives. The key is to clearly identify which channels should be used. Those channels need to then be reviewed and evaluated along with any digital assets. It’s also important to be bold enough to change channels, tactics, and assets when necessary.

COVID-19 has impacted a lot of companies and industries all around the world in the same way. Have your own marketing strategies for UOB had to change because of the pandemic?

Yes, certainly. Here at UOB Kay Hian, we have to accelerate our digital marketing strategies and to revamp our digital footprint. Our goal is to ensure our website is visible on Google whenever potential leads search for investment ideas and a platform to start trading.

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

I believe there is more to come in the digital marketing space. I will be keen to learn more strategies and push the boundaries on the combination of both digital marketing and business requirements. 

Traditionally, businesses have been reluctant to spend marketing dollars on digital media due to the lack of quantitative results. However, with this pandemic, it is clear that going digital is essential and costs can be managed. 

We have to evolve from having impressions and click throughs. These are basics and we need to go beyond this basic level to have a more meaningful engagement session with our target audience. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring finance or banking marketers? 

Always be bold and try new strategies but remember to evaluate and don’t be afraid to ditch it if it’s not working at all. Be humble and accept that not all methods will work but keep an open mind. 

Thank you, Roger, for sharing your experiences with us. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Feel free to reach out to me via my LinkedIn profile and I will be happy to share my experiences. 

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

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