Most of us thinking about wealth management and financial planning as something meant for the 1% – those with enough money to actually need such services. The truth is, wealth management and financial planning is something we should all be doing – if only to safeguard our retirement funds.
Helping us fully understand the importance of correctly managing and saving money for a secure and safe future, is digital marketing expert Jason Huan, Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as Jason lets us into the world of wealth management and financial planning.
Hi, Jason, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with some background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?
It’s been a good 15 years since I last graduated from the pioneer batch of a Technopreneurship program in NUS (National University of Singapore) which focuses on Technology entrepreneurship. From there I’ve honed my functional capabilities across various sectors from education, financial services, and recruitment, to my recent 5 years where I’ve spent time in fast-growth technology companies as the CMO for Lazada Singapore / Philippines as well as Endowus, a wealth management app where I’m currently based.
I was largely on a generalist track focused on digital marketing skillsets. And in the various roles that I’ve served at, I was razor-focused on ensuring that these roles would attend to the knowledge gaps for me to effectively strategise and execute marketing campaigns in an integrated manner.
You’re the Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Please tell us a little about the work Endowus does and your role there.
Endowus is the first and only digital advisor in Singapore that is able to manage the core of Singaporeans’ wealth in 3 key sources – namely, the national pension scheme (CPF), a retirement scheme (SRS) and cash. The founders came together to solve for retirement adequacy by curating time-tested and more affordable investment products in the market, as well as removing errant fees being levied on investors that eat into returns by introducing an all-in-one simple fee structure.
The result is creating an investment platform that’s 100% aligned to our clients’ interest as we are not incentivised by anyone else but the client to act in their best interest — as we rebate a 100% of trailer fees back to our clients.
As part of the founding team, I was entrusted with the role of building a brand that is underpinned by core principles of trust, transparency and security. And as a brand which launched through Covid-19, we were thrust into hyper-growth as we doubled down on paid performance on digital channels, as well as content and community marketing, creating video and web content to help people manage their wealth better over periods of uncertainty. Amidst orchestrating content initiatives that are focused on delivering financial literacy, brand campaigns are developed to help people understand how we can help grow their wealth, alongside amplification via paid performance channels.
Is there a part of your role you enjoy most?
I think more than just the role itself is the company’s mission and values. We were founded on improving accessibility to better investment products, as well as lowering the cost of investing which overall improves investment outcomes, so people can live better tomorrow. And I find the work that I do extremely meaningful as a result.
Retirement planning is typically not on the top of the priority list for most, but it doesn’t take a lot to be better planned for that important eventuality. At Endowus, we want to make that first step to building a retirement nest easier.
You also spent some time at Lazada Group – how do those experiences differ from your time at Endowus? Did it prepare you for your current role in any way?
I think the key similarities between the two were that they were hyper growth-focused, where traffic and customer acquisition are key objectives on top of building a strong brand. But where the length of the sales cycle is concerned, they differ vastly in that there’s absolutely a lot more products that can be attractive to a customer on Lazada, versus considering an investment product that requires a minimum investment on Endowus that may fluctuate with market changes.
While the consumer psyche between an e-commerce site and an investment platform is vastly different, from digital marketing touchpoints to the UX onsite, optimisations to improve content discovery and eventual conversions are conceptually similar. Overall, the way we optimize ROI for traffic, as well as customer acquisition, is similar, adjusting for revenue projections based on customer lifetime value.
How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as a CMO? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?
We pivoted very swiftly when news of an islandwide lockdown broke. We converted in-person events to webinars to which we broke down a curriculum-based seasonally on the market and economic events that were unfolding, to help people understand the benefits of taking ownership of their financial health.
The key challenge was convincing investors that they should be looking at managing their wealth more than ever during this period of volatility. But in doubling down on education, as well as outlining our track record from a sound investment strategy—we managed to increase client acquisition many-fold as well as trend strongly as one of the leading robo-advisors with the largest video reach on YouTube, on top of gunning awards for supporting financial literacy.
What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?
Specific to the industry, I think there was a pronounced impact on the need to enhance one’s knowledge of personal finance and investing. As Covid lockdowns affected economies everywhere, shuttering companies and causing people to go out of work, there was a need to be more financially responsible rather than live paycheck to paycheck.
For the savvier investors, there was also the need to be personally empowered to make their own financial decisions as physical bank branches and financial advisors were out of reach. The acceleration in the adoption of digital advisory services like ours while met with initial apprehension is now understood as the new way forward to managing and growing wealth.
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?
Financial advisory services have typically been a high touch business—, particularly wealth management. Banks have long depended on their physical presence to reach their clients with more sophisticated products and services. Our work requires us to optimise the way we manage wealth for our clients, from setting up the stage to understanding their needs, to performing KYC, all on a digital platform—enhancing and continually improving on an app-first experience is critical to business success.
In terms of overall strategy, we are hyper-focused on app-first enablement, and optimising the experience around that. From engaging and acquiring our clients via performance marketing channels, to enhancing their ability to explore other products and services we can offer based on their needs at different life stages. We need to be able to offer a holistic one-stop experience that continues to delight them as they grow their wealth with us.
Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?
Never stop learning. The world has evolved tremendously over Covid, and the world of marketing will continue to evolve at a fast pace with changes that are not within our control. Tightening privacy laws, changing regulations—no matter which area of functional expertise, it’ll inadvertently affect your strategy.
It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Jason, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Endowus?
Feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn anytime!
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