‘You don’t need to be a prick to make a profit’: Wisr’s James Goodwin

“There’s this view in financial services, or what’s come out of the Royal Commission, is that you’ve got to be a prick to profit. But you actually don’t need to be a prick.”

Wisr is a fintech company focused to responsible lending, and that was its CMO James Goodwin’s message to marketers in the finance industry.

Goodwin speaking at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit

Values are meaningless, argued Goodwin, since it’s behaviour that truly speaks volumes about a brand and what it stands for.

“I’m sorry to say, but no one cares about your brand. No one cares about your logo … your million-dollar campaign,” he said, speaking on a panel at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit.

“What people actually care about is what you stand for.

“Your values actually mean nothing. People come up here today and tell you that they will sit in a room and pontificate about ‘What does our brand actually value?'”

In explaining why values don’t matter, he drew upon a few examples.

“Integrity. Communication. Respect. Excellence. These are good values,” he said.

“I think lots of financial brands may have these values. You might put them in your marketing messages, your collateral. You might even put them up on your wall. Well, these were the values that were on the wall of Enron, who oversaw one of the largest corporate embezzlements in American corporate history.”

Values are easy, he said. Actually embodying those values is hard. And what you do, rather than what you say you’ll do, defines whether your business is profit-led or purpose-led.

“If your only key metrics are reducing the cost of acquisition, for driving ROI, for driving customer lifetime value, your business values profit. That is a very important point to make,” he said.

“As the CMO of a purpose-led organisation, the kinds of conversations I have with my CEO are around how many people we help, how much debt do we help pay down?”

The panel, including Goodwin (centre)

But for the Big Four banks and other financial services companies, Goodwin added that it’s not as easy as deciding to invent (or reinvent) a purpose and fit it into a mature company.

“You can’t retro-fit purpose into a brand. You have to bake it in from the start,” he said.

“So brands who want to bring purpose into their brands at a later date, it’s actually really difficult and shouldn’t be done.

“For instance, a credit card product, by its nature and design, makes money off someone who can least afford it. So by nature of that, that cannot be a purpose-led organisation.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.