The finance industry is a complex arena, requiring special insight and expertise to excel. With the last few years, the industry – like all other industries – had to make monumental changes to adapt to the changes in human behaviour.
In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we talk fintech, banking and how they’ve changed. More than that, we are given the rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the industry. Our guide for this journey? Kevyn Eng, vastly experienced, Head of Growth and Marketing at Hugosave, Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app aimed at helping users manage their finances more healthily.
Hi, Kevyn, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?
I started my career in Public Relations with two of the world’s most respected consultancies—Fleishman-Hillard and Burson Marsteller—serving finance, industry and B2C clients. I had the chance to be exposed to the dynamic world of Banking and Finance.
In 2009, I entered the banking space, specifically, payments. In those days, marketing was an end-to-end function that combined today’s business (product marketing) and marketing roles (marketing communication). I’m always grateful for the wide exposure and opportunities to be involved in almost every component of the integrated marketing spectrum. For instance, I was fortunate to have entered banking at the point RBS took over ABN Amro’s payment business and, within two years, executed another brand change to ANZ. In this short span of time, I was thrust into two major bank rebranding exercises and that experience really taught me much.
2011 was another interesting year when I worked on Marketing Communication for private banking clients in Southeast Asia. Though frequent travels were tiring, the direct exposure and working relationships formed with agencies and partners across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were valuable. Today, I still keep in contact with some of them.
2019 was yet another milestone year when I moved into the Intelligent Banking business. Leveraging open banking, cognitive banking and ecosystems, we pioneered changes in mindset, processes and business models, all within a giant bank with a global presence.
Today, I’m leading the Growth and Marketing department of Hugosave, Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app.
You’re the Head of Growth & Marketing at Hugosave. Please tell us about Hugosave and the work you do there.
Launched in July 2021, Hugosave is Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app which helps users become financially fit by spending smarter, saving more, and investing diligently, starting with gold.
Today, more than 50,000 users in Singapore are using Hugosave to optimise their finances. The Hugosave Growth & Marketing department commercialises the business, driving customer acquisitions and CLV whilst optimising acquisition and customer costs. This is done through an in-depth understanding of users’ needs and behaviours, and close coordination and collaboration with many internal stakeholders. We actively acquire and engage our clients through a mixture of broad-based marketing to personalised communication triggered via our CRM platform.
Building the Hugosave brand from a nobody to a multi-award-winning name, the high-performing team deploys a multi-lever approach involving PR, Branding, Content, Social, Communities, Digital Marketing and advertising channels. We also plan and execute innovative campaigns, rewards and partnership activities.
What sort of impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on Hugosave?
Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way the world works. On a macroeconomic level, it has significantly disrupted supply chains, impacting the global movement of goods and services. This increased the cost of doing business and jacked prices of goods and services up across the globe.
In Singapore, where natural resources are scarce, we are heavily reliant on global supplies. The increases in prices have definitely eroded our savings, disrupting our financial plans and reducing our purchasing power.
The need to save has never been more apparent. Consumers have now a heightened awareness of the need for sufficient emergency funds and saving for rainy days. It’s a double whammy when they now have to spend more on daily essentials due to inflation. Hugosave is well-positioned to help customers save in a painless manner. In line with our Little, Often, Early mantra, we think consumers can still achieve savings when they set aside small amounts of savings on every spend they make. Our Roundups feature on our Hugosave Debit Card does just that. It rounds every transaction up to the nearest dollar and saves the spare change, aka Roundups, in Gold. The precious metal is widely accepted as a safe-haven asset and an inflation hedge.
Consumers can also set scheduled savings in Gold, in any amount starting from S$0.01. This automation at the back allows customers to continue with their daily lives with minimal disruptions and pinch.
Hence, this is a golden time for Hugosave to engage our prospects and encourage them to start their Wealthcare® journeys, and hopefully with us.
How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your strategies as Head of Growth & Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since 2020? How have you overcome them?
From a marketing outreach perspective, we see the shift in our budget and investments fully into digital marketing, content creation and public relations.
Whilst we continue to believe in face-to-face interactions with our prospects, the situation during Covid-19 forced us to be sharper in the way we communicate, to further simplify complex finance terms for consumers. Online attention is also way shorter than a physical interaction and so messages needed to be more succinct and on-point.
What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?
The digital wave has accelerated faster as a result of the pandemic. From eCommerce to content consumption, the digital space is now the default for many Singaporeans. As a by-product, our push towards a cashless society has also moved quickly.
Does this then see the death of the piggy bank since there’s even lesser use for coins? Here’s where we introduce Hugosave’s digital piggy bank. Rounding up transactions to the nearest dollar, the cents are now saved and invested in Gold. So not only do customers save from incurring unnecessary processing fees from banking coins, they have a good chance of seeing the investments grow and protecting savings from inflation.
In the world of personal finance and Wealthcare®, a similar wave is happening. Innovations and tech disruptions to traditional banking services have grown tremendously.
Opening banking and SGFinDex paved the way for data democratization, and clients now have greater control over their information. With that, it also spurs growth in Wealthtech apps with better journeys and simpler and easier-to-understand propositions that help clients manage their finances more efficiently and effectively.
Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?
Definitely, Hugosave is primed at the right time with the right proposition built by the right team.
In times of FUD, people turn their attention to saving opportunities as they tighten their belts. This makes the environment ripe for a business like Hugosave. We provide a platform for our clients to protect, preserve and grow their savings without feeling the pain. From automated savings with every spend via our Roundups feature to scheduled money pots, savings are invested in relatively lower-risk assets such as Gold, enabling their growth.
As a Weathcare® and savings App, we naturally reach out to our customers on a mobile-first principle. Over the Covid-19 period where physical interactions are limited, we make our marketing investments digital. Social media, in particular, Instagram and TikTok is key channels we utilise to get our messages out.
We have also taken the opportunity to explore audio podcasts via Spotify and Twitter Spaces. These platforms enable us to deliver our messages where our clients are. Apart from performance buys, we have also embarked on building our communities on Facebook & Telegram. It’s very interesting to note that our TG community has grown and overtook our Facebook Group within four months of its inauguration.
Communities will continue to be our focus and way to drive multi-way conversations. As we continue to dish out information and bite-sized education on personal finance, our communities will benefit from discussions with us, and amongst themselves.
How do the last few years impact your insight into how personal finances should be managed? Do you have any suggestions for people on how to better control and manage their financial situations?
Savings has almost become a forgotten topic as Cryptocurrency speculation sweeps across the youth’s mind space with the ‘get rich fast’ opportunities. The bull run of the crypto space prior to 2020 saw many trying their luck. Arguments that savings were too slow in accumulating wealth and such investments would work far better.
Looking back now, many have now understood that such speculations are highly risky and should be taken with much caution. With a gloomy economic outlook, people now turn their attention back to savings.
In Hugosave, our philosophy is to start your savings journey with a little, often, early. Start small to avoid feeling the pinch and slowly increase once it becomes second nature.
Keep a schedule going so that you continuously buy into the market, achieving dollar averaging and the potential to mitigate timing risk. Finally, start as soon as you can so that you enjoy the power of compounding interests.
Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?
My personal mantra is, “Keep going, you’ll get there”. Marketing is a diverse, dynamic, ever-changing industry that continues to reinvent itself as it responds to consumer and social developments. Sometimes, it feels chaotic and frustrating when plans change and we pivot fast to keep ahead and stay relevant. Bite the bullet, keep going and you’ll get there.