The super fund CMO aka chief member, marketing, digital and growth officer role is developing rapidly.  How they intersect in a post stapling world will be existential for funds.  While there is a strong case for separate member experience and growth/marketing executive roles, allowing deeper focus on organic and inorganic strategies, here I discuss them together.

In my recent Future CEO article, I covered the 4Cs driving super funds – competition, complexity, culture and clarity.  For our future CMO, I asked leaders how they see the role(s) developing using the 5Ms of Members, Mass, Maths, Messages and Mergers.

Common challenges include: instilling an organisational duality of improving member value and sustainable growth; building diverse team capabilities across CRM, customer insights, acquisitions, communications, product, data, and digital; faster innovation; and, branding.  Wrap this all up with the ‘Best Financial Interests Duty’ (BFID) and an agility ribbon… a gift for our polymath CMO!

The 5M’s of Members, Mass, Maths, Messages and Mergers. 

Members: For the chief customer officer CMO, in addition, to member centricity and a frictionless CX, retention via increased customer value and organic growth will remain core. Engagement will move to entanglement which experts say requires mutual benefit and long-term commitment – perfect for super funds!

The growth-focussed CMO will instil an organisational growth mindset. Funds with little distribution or mergers experience will need to build expert capability sharpish.  They will use sophisticated marketing tech models considering customer lifetime value, member acquisition and merger costs to better target member cohorts. All this while testing their investment against BFID.

Mass: Mass can be fund scale, mass in member cohorts, and mass customisation. The CMO will be concerned with reducing delivery costs to all member cohorts.  Some may need more complicated advice, others financial education or better insurance.  Do they chase overall mass or target cohorts, that they may understand and service better, thereby reducing costs?

Mass means building a strong organisational-wide capability and culture of marketing and member experience excellence.  Great CMO’s remember Jan Carlzon’s ‘Moments of Truth’ principles ensuring an organisational attitude of quality CX delivery.  A strong investment and talent pipeline across IT, digital, data and CX will occur.

Maths: Our future CMO will love numbers.  As savvy data analysts, they will build stronger customer entanglement, adjust growth programs and extract the best bang for their marketing bucks. Competition, let alone, the regulator will demand this.

In partnership with their CFO they will fully understand the financial drivers on the organisation and build robust marketing programs. Balancing cost to serve and acquire while maximising customer lifetime value will be critical.

Innovation will be the hallmark of the best CMOs. They will build systems to capture ideas from across the entire organisation.  Innovation and agility will be rewarded, conservative mindsets punished.

Messages: Our future CMO is a masterful storyteller who will continue to build narratives that strengthen brands and attracts customers.  Strong brands build emotional connections with their customers who become advocates. Value narratives will integrate ‘head’ topics like net returns with ‘heart’ topics such as social and community issues just as ESG does today. Authenticity rules – the organisation must walk the talk every day!

Digital mastery will have super providing seamless service and advice. Super too will be assimilated by the metaverse. We will be experiencing our retirement pathways via VR as we can do now with VR travel.

Mergers: The rush to mergers could be analogous to a country B&S dance. There are many dance partners but few you want to take home to the parents let alone marry! The competition is intense so you want to make sure you have a great organisational offer.  A good outfit and haircut alone won’t cut it!  Be it a dance or a business partner, you better have a strong offer or stay home.  I fear many mergers, like B&S romances, may end up as one-night stands!

A sixth M could be ‘minimalism’.  A CMO lamented to me about super’s labyrinth of paperwork and processes asking “why do we need 3 forms? why can’t we have a digital signature and more?” A Chief Minimalist Officer would make super far more attractive.

The CMO will be the master connector bringing the customer-focussed organisation together. Success will depend on CMOs taking dynamic leadership of multidisciplinary expert teams.  Some described themselves as part artist, part scientist. I would add acrobat, hunter and perhaps the mystical skills of the ninja!

Michael Swinsburg is managing partner, Australia at Alexander Hughes Executive Search & Leadership Advisory

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