The Importance of Differentiation in Financial Services


The Financial Services industry is a very good example of a market in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate through proposition alone, which is why the opportunity to differentiate through the expression of corporate values, beliefs and mind-set is becoming increasingly important. This is one of the reasons why organisations spend time and effort developing values-based mission statements and so on, in an attempt to undergo something of a ‘a cultural transfusion’ within their organisation, in the full knowledge that people prefer to work for companies that have ‘a sense of purpose’ and that the market prefers to buy from companies that make it clear they genuinely care about their customers’ interests.


All of this is very well understood by organisations that have a deep-rooted sense of purpose. They aren’t just behaving in a more enlightened way in the hope that doing so will lead to a better bottom line; they are behaving that way because it aligns with their very raison d'être; they are purposefully working towards a ‘higher objective’ which goes beyond just maximising profit in the short term. It is surely these sorts of organisations that will become the success stories of the future, because they have a fundamentally more advanced understanding of what success actually is.


If these ideas resonate with you and you like the idea of helping to move the Financial Services sector to ‘a better place,’ where it has repaired its tarnished reputation, regained the confidence of the public at large and seeks to serve honourably, then you are on our wavelength; please do read on.


Transparency is a Commercial and Cultural Virtue


There is no doubt that consumers prefer dealing with people and organisations they trust. There is also no doubt there is a close correlation between transparency, truthfulness and trustworthiness. It therefore follows that organisations operating in a transparent, truthful and trustworthy way are at a commercial advantage to those that don’t, all else being equal, because they will attract more custom.


We believe that ‘transparency is a commercial virtue’; and the commercial virtue of transparency can also lead to a cultural virtue of transparency within organisations; and vice versa.


Furthermore, organisations that authentically embrace the idea that transparency is a commercial and cultural virtue recognise the important part that transparency can play in helping to create a fairer, safer, more stable and more efficient market that delivers better outcomes and better value for money to consumers; and if they authentically align with the objective of creating that kind of market it follows that they should be wholeheartedly pre-disposed to actively supporting the Transparency Task Force, which exists to do exactly that.


This web page is therefore for organisations that want to explore opportunities to support the Transparency Task Force in the full knowledge that by doing so they will be helping us to ‘shine a bright light into the dark corners’ of the financial services industry and therefore accelerate the rate at which the market is changes into the market it ought to be.


‘Fixing Financial Services through the Transformational Power of Transparency’


That's exactly what the Transparency Task Force is all about.


Here’s a list of the sorts of problems we are working hard to fix:

  • The Trust Deficit
  • The Engagement Deficit
  • The Understanding Deficit
  • Miss-selling
  • Unstable markets - financial crises need opacity
  • Hidden costs
  • Hidden risks
  • Opportunistic and unjustified opacity
  • Opportunistic and unjustified obfuscation
  • Opportunistic and unjustified complexity
  • Short-termism with an 'ignore the consequences' attitude
  • Inadequate client-centricity i.e. not putting the client first
  • Asymmetries of information i.e. preventing good decisions
  • Regulatory Capture i.e. regulators becoming conflicted
  • Scams and scandals i.e. people becoming prey of crooks 
  • Reputational damage caused by the malpractice of the few
  • Conflicts of interest 
  • Rent extraction
  • Unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic regulation
  • Profiteering i.e. the exploitation of market failures 
  • Malpractice i.e. people cheating; sometimes within the law
  • Skewed incentives that encourage poor behaviour
  • Egregious abuses
  • Encouraging market behaviour that is contrary to what research, science and evidence shows to be rational; and so on. 

If you also wish for these problems to be managed out of the financial ecosystems around the world, then we are aligned; and on that basis please read on to explore the opportunities you have to support our efforts and thereby help achieve what you also want:


Corporate Social Responsibility

Given that having a fair, efficient and effective financial services sector is profoundly important to the well-being of society as a whole there is an opportunity to support and work collaboratively with the Transparency Task Force as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility programme. This opportunity will be particularly appealing to organisations that want to improve the way society is served by the Financial Services sector. Please get in touch if you would like to explore this opportunity.  


General Sponsorship

General Sponsorship will only work for organisations that are truly aligned with the Transparency Task Force because no amount of sponsorship will steer us away from our mission to drive up the levels of transparency in financial services. If your organisation wants to help create a fairer, safer, more stable and more efficient market that delivers better outcomes and better value for money to consumers then General Sponsorship is an obvious option that should be considered. Get in touch to explore this opportunity further.


Sponsoring a Transparency Symposium

Get in touch if you like the idea of sponsoring a Transparency Symposium. We plan to run these in every major financial centre around the world. They do wonders for galvanising support for the cause, generate volunteers and Ambassadors; and even lots of free publicity because we always have journalists attend. Sponsoring one of our conferences isn’t expensive at all, especially if you have a room that takes 30 or more people that can be used. Sponsors can have a speaking slot, provide materials to delegates, be referenced in event marketing collateral and so on; all the normal event sponsorship options are available but we will never allow sponsorship to interfere with the credibility of our activities.


Sponsoring a Bespoke Event

Get in touch if you like the idea of the Transparency Task Force running an event in conjunction with you on a particular topic of your choosing. With our Bespoke Events offering we will work together to help you get across a particular message that you want to ‘get out there’. Of course the topic would need to authentically align with our desire to help create a better market so this option will only be available to organisations that have thought leadership that truly aligns with what the Transparency Task Force is all about. Again, this option isn’t expensive at all, especially if you have a suitable room that can be used. We can consider anything from a ‘round table’ format with as few as ten carefully selected people all the way through to several hundred. The Transparency Task Force would take care of all aspects of event management including generating the attendees. We would work together to define the ideal audience profile.


Sponsoring an Office, in full or in part

Having a small office opens up all sorts of opportunities for the Transparency Task Force to go to 'the next level'. Perhaps you would like the opportunity to sponsor a small office, in full or in part?


Sponsoring an Apprentice, in full or in part

There is much work that needs doing in the 'back office' of the Transparency Task Force and we have great career opportunities for apprentices wishing to embark on a career in business administration or digital marketing - we can offer several great 'all-rounder' apprentice opportunities. Perhaps you would like the opportunity to sponsor an apprentice, in full or in part?


Other Specific Sponsorship

If you prefer, rather than sponsoring the Transparency Task Force as a whole through General Sponsorship or Sponsoring a Transparency Symposium or a Bespoke Event you can take the opportunity to sponsor something specific such as a particular Team, project, initiative or activity. We have so much ‘on the go’ that you have a great deal to choose from; or perhaps you have a particular idea in mind that you wish to sponsor. Please get in touch to discuss your preferences.


Exhibiting at our Events

Subject to there not being a conflict with the main event sponsors we can provide space for exhibition stands at our events. Depending on the venue this may be in the format of just a table with brochures and leaflets on display with a pop-up banner; all the way through to full-size exhibition stands. Please enquire for further details.  


Funding and Grant Giving

We would be delighted to hear from Funding and Grant-Giving organisations that may wish to support our endeavors to ‘fix financial services through the transformational power of transparency’. We are most likely to be compatible with Funding and Grant-Giving organisations keen to harness our ability to change the way the system works through our highly effective influencing activities.


Attending our Events

Our events are pay-to attend so being ‘just’ an attendee helps the cause. Note that there is always flexibility on our pricing – we don’t want to refuse anybody the opportunity to attend an event if they have limited budget so we can be very accommodating.


Being a ‘Logo Sponsor’

If you are attending one of our events, then why not go one step further and become a ‘Logo Sponsor’ whereby we include your logo on sponsor slides and, by arrangement other collateral too. You would be making a positive statement in wanting to be seen to be aligned with what the Transparency Task Force is all about.


Materials Distribution – Events

If you have leaflets, brochures, research papers and so on that you would like to raise awareness of then we can arrange for such items to be placed on the seats at our conferences


Materials Distribution – Email

If you have leaflets, brochures, research papers and so on in electronic format that you would like to raise awareness of then we can arrange for such items to be emailed to our community of over 10,000 people. We can send sponsored Emails to all our community or ‘target market’ particular parts of it depending on your requirements. We can filter by geography, job title, organisation type and so on.



We can take donations. This opportunity will suit organisations that want to financially support the Transparency Task Force in the achievement of its aims and objectives. Donations can be made for the Transparency Task Force generally or for a specific activity, Team, project and so on. Please get in touch to discuss your preferences.


Advertising in the Transparency Times – Main Section

We can carry advertising in the Transparency Times which goes out to over 10,000 people. As it is an online magazine we have the flexibility to carry advertising in many formats including video, slide-share and so on.


Advertising in the Transparency Times – Directory of Pro-Transparency Organisations

The Directory of Pro-Transparency Organisations is at the back of the Transparency Times and is organised into directory sections such as Asset Managers, Investment Consultants, Pension Providers and so on.


Advertising in the Website – Main Section

We can carry advertising in our Website. Many formats are available including Banner, video, slide-share and so on.


Advertising in the Website – Directory of Pro-Transparency Organisations

The Directory of Pro-Transparency Organisations is also going to be on our website; so you can choose to appear in just the Transparency Times, just the Website or both; but if your organisation is pro-transparency you should be represented in at least one.


Market Research

We are able to carry out online, telephone-based or face-to-face interview Market Research. This can be to all or parts of our existing community of over 10,000 people, or to new completely new audiences as required. Research can a be simple and straightforward or complex and involved.


Web design

We know there is huge scope to improve our website. Do you/your organisation have the skills and resource to help take our website 'to the next level'. Perhaps you have copy-writing skills that would help? Perhaps you know how to add donations mechanism onto the website?


Sponsored conference call line

All 12 of our Teams of volunteers have a monthly conference call. Perhaps your organisation has an existing conference call facility we could use at no cost?


PR and Media support

Our media and PR activity so far has been fine but there is a great opportunity for a PR firm to take on the Transparency Task Force as a pro bono client - the media and PR potential of the Transparency Task Force is huge, globally. Perhaps you are a PR firm that would like to have our account? Or perhaps you are a large corporate that has the services of a good PR firm and could add the Transparency Task Force's work to your contract?


Legal and accounting support 

We are looking to convert Transparency Task Force Ltd into a Community Interest Company or some kind of Social Enterprise. Perhaps you are a legal or accounting firm that can take care of the transition for us?



We want to make many informal but effective videos to help us get our message out there. Perhaps you have the skills and equipment to help?


Crowd-funding expertise 

We want to run crowd-funding campaigns to attract financial support. Do you have expertise that can help?


Grant and funding application experience

We want to apply for grants and funding. Perhaps you have expertise to know who we should be applying to and be able to help with the application process?


Strategy and Planning Support

We are already getting fantastic support from key individuals helping with our strategy development and business planning. Perhaps you can join that effort?


Cash Flow and Financial Management

This is a key area for us to get right. Anything to help our financial management would be very appreciated including basic accounting and book-keeping.


Coaching and Mentoring

We are already getting fantastic support from key individuals helping with coaching and mentoring. Perhaps you can join that effort?


Social Media

The Transparency Task Force has enormous potential through Social Media. Do you have those skills and capabilities? Or perhaps you are a corporate that is paying a firm of Social Media gurus and could pay extra to look after the Transparency Task Force's requirements?


Speaking Opportunities

The topic of transparency and the work of the Transparency Task Force are highly topical. Speaking opportunities are great for awareness-raising, 'winning hearts and minds'  and recruiting volunteers. If you have any relevant upcoming events perhaps the Transparency Task Force can get into the programme?



The idea here is that we publish an account of our events such as our Transparency Symposia to give people unable to attend an insight into what was covered. Are you able to attend events and write them up? The write-up would be supported by speakers slides so not too difficult.



If you have interacted with the Transparency Task Force in some way and genuinely felt good about what we are doing, perhaps you would be happy to provide a testimonial. For example, Testimonials from people that have been to a Transparency Symposium and thought it was good are very helpful as they encourage others to attend. We will put your testimonial onto the website.


Volunteers for our Teams

The Transparency Task Force has over 250 volunteers, organised and mobilised into 12 Teams; we are always on the lookout for collaboratively-minded people that want to push for positive change.



Nothing flash needed (sorry, couldn't help it); anybody with an iPhone or better that is going to a Transparency Symposium anyway and is happy to take snaps for the photo gallery we are developing for the website could make a great contribution to our efforts


Article-writing opportunities

Articles are also great for awareness-raising so if you control a publication, perhaps we can have the opportunity to submit an article about our work into it to help raise awareness? 


Articles for the Transparency Times

We publish the Transparency Times monthly and are always hungry for good, relevant articles. If you have thought leadership to offer, share it!


Transparency Statements

Transparency Statements begin with the words: "I believe there ought to be higher levels of transparency in financial services because.............................." and can be completed in any way the author wants. We've got dozens of these but we want thousands. They are free to do. All you need is a few moments to think about what you want your Transparency Statement to be and to then Email it to us.  Here's an example, from Tom Tugendhat MBE MP, Member of Parliament for Tonbridge and Malling:         


“I believe there ought to be higher levels of transparency in financial services because it is the only way that markets can function without distortion to the benefit of the true customer, the 



Anything else?

Thank you for working your way through a long list of opportunities to help fix financial services by supporting the Transparency Task Force. 


Please get in touch about any one or more of those ideas, and of course if there is any other way you can think of to support the cause we would be very happy to listen:


+44 (0) 7501 460308



The Great Divide

You can read the speech by  Andrew G. Haldane, FAcSS (the Bank of England's Chief Economist and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics) that he gave on 18th May 2016 at the New City Agenda Annual dinner.


The speech is entitled The Great Divide and it is a first class explanation of why the trust deficit really matters and why it makes sense to try to do something about it.


Please click on the green button to access it; if you're not convinced of its relevance to our initiative, here's part of it:


..."The most important and compelling message the Bank received at the Open Forum came in the first session. The Bank had conducted some polling of perceptions of the financial sector – for example, by asking people what one word best described the future of financial markets. Among the Bank’s usual contacts, including those in the financial sector, the most used word was “regulated”. Many of us will have heard that message from financial insiders concerned about the perils of over-zealous regulators.


For me, the more revealing responses came from the general public, from the customers, rather than the producers, of financial services. The word most used by them when describing financial markets was a rather different one: it was “corrupt”. Not far behind were words like “manipulated”, “self-serving”, “destructive” and “greedy”. I am sure many of you have heard those messages too. They are certainly ones I have encountered frequently on my visits around the country."...


Please click the green button  below to access the full speech. If you need to read another piece first, here it is:


..."At least until recently many economists like me, when faced with this evidence, might have shrugged our shoulders. Social capital had no real role in our models of economic growth, unlike physical capital and human capital. Trust did not butter our parsnips and nor did it enter our production functions.


Recently, however, that orthodoxy has changed and the importance of trust has become clearer.


Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity. 


At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.


Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.


Those social capital effects appear to be particularly potent when it comes to financial decisions. Evidence suggests that a lack of trust leads people to retreat from the stock market and banks and to move towards cash holdings and informal sources of credit, such as payday lenders and loan sharks. That jeopardises the second key benefit of finance to society – improved risk-sharing by households and companies.


So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.


That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.


The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being."...


Please click on the green button to access the full speech. If you're not yet convinced you should, here's a final snippet:


..." As a survey in 2013 of financial professionals found, rather remarkably, that over half believed their competitors engaged in illegal or unethical behaviour.  A smaller, but still high, fraction of 24% believed their own company engaged in such practices. Similar percentages believed their industry did not fulfil its fiduciary function of putting clients’ interests first.

The significance of these findings is not the precise percentages, as striking as these are.


More fundamentally, it is because of what they reveal about finance’s perception of itself, the mirror it holds to the social identity of finance."...


Click onto the button below to access the full speech; you'll be glad you did, it's profoundly thought-provoking for anybody interested in the future of the financial services industry:

If you are not already on the right page and want to read about our major international project to help rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services, click on the orange button below:

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