Financial Services Digital Marketing Conference Enriches Attendees [Review]

Rob Campbell

Canadian Internet Marketing Association President Brian Rotsztein moderating a digital marketing panel with Milan Popodich (Advisor at Manulife Securities), Nick Parnell (Risk and Wealth Management Strategies at Freedom 55 Financial), and Chad Dawson (Employee Benefits Specialist at Select Path).

From June 10-12, the Toronto Hilton hosted the Strategy Institute’s 3-day conference,  The 4th Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit. I (Rob Campbell) was asked to moderate several sessions. Additionally, CIMA President Brian Rotsztein was in attendance as a speaker, panel moderator, and chair of the entire third day of the event. Here’s a summary of the event’s highlights and my experiences at the conference.

Banking Smarts

These particular bankers are very smart when it comes to using social media to accelerate their businesses, and it’s always interesting to hear what they will and will NOT do and why. I moderated three panels at the event and tweeted and promoted the gathering on several corporate and personal platforms.

The mobile marketing panel was the biggest challenge for me because it required that I brush up on lots of specialized knowledge about apps and analytics to measure the performance of mobile apps in order to even be able to ask a sensible questions to these highly knowledgeable panelists. Indeed when reading their introductions, I laughed at Sep’s self-styled description as being spawned by the “mobile gods to bring mobile technology to the world of humans.” It was kind of refreshing in a way that nobody here took themselves too seriously.

Mobile Financial Apps


Responsive and mobile strategies panel with Jimmy Dinh (Head Of Mobile Payments & Commerce Strategy at President’s Choice Financial), Sep Seyedi (CEO of Plastic Mobile), and Andrew Lo (CMO of Kanetix). The panel was moderated by Rob Campbell.

One of the sessions that I () moderated included a mobile marketing panel with Plastic Mobile CEO Sep Seyedi (), Jimmy Dinh () from PCFinancial and now CIBC, and Andrew Lo () CMO of an innovative online insurance quote company Kanetix.

Sep Sayedi, Jimmy Dinh and Andrew Lo represent an incredible amount of mobile financial app development prowess and knowledge. They’re smart phone software designers, and mobile wallets experts and ‘onboarding’ sign-up form experts respectively.

These guys happily shared stories as we all talked about engineering financial apps and the particular challenges presented by compliance, and everyday consumers, and the compromises made between usability and security, design and efficiency.

One observation I could make is that budget and funding wasn’t really discussed at all here in the enterprise level conference. This wasn’t a MeetUp for bootstrap start-ups, and nobody discussed or wondered aloud the cost of things.


Fellow conference speakers Brian Rotsztein and Jennifer Grazel (Global Head of Financial Services  at LinkedIn).

LinkedIn Keynote

Jennifer Grazel (@jgrazel), the Global Head of Financial Services at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions talked about how conversations in social media are important to help establish relationships.

She also mentioned how LinkedIn now has even more options as far as advertising opportunities go. She was exhausted, having just landed after giving a talk on the other side of the planet but she pulled it off with ease.

Innovative Custom Digital Sales

Mark Schoenbeck (@The_IdeaGuy), the CMO of Curian Capital in Denver gave an enthusiastic talk on generating new business and cultivating sales with digital channels. In his presentation, he featured a case study from his own company’s results.

He demonstrated how a custom system where personal greetings to prospective clients, delivered when the recipient wanted it, was able to increase sales dramatically.

Mark Schoenbeck, CMO of Curian Capital.

Mark Schoenbeck, CMO of
Curian Capital.

SEO & Content Marketing

Brian Rotsztein’s talk on search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing in the financial industry was equally enthusiastic. At the end of a long 3-day conference, many attendees were getting tired but his animated, funny, and informative session was very well received.

Some of his takeaways included the importance of anticipating consumer needs, creating personas that narrow down your target audience, the new rules of guest posting for SEO, and publishing smart content that resonates with consumers. His last point was to promote content using the right social media channels that reach the ideal audience. You can tweet questions to him at @brianrotsztein.

Twitter Activity

The 4th Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit or #DMFSToronto on Twitter has a lot of highlights that are still visible.

One glance confirms this is a conference aimed at C-Suite marketing executives to give them an opportunity to network and become more knowledgeable by listening and sharing their SEO, SEM and mobile marketing techniques.

This is not Boot Camp for Start Ups or anything less than enterprise financial institutions, vendors and suppliers. The rooms are filled with subject matter experts sharing their knowledge about existing and emerging marketing vehicles.

Post-conference Connections


Anastasia examines the bird photo booth.

Speaking of marketing vehicles, it was good to see Brian Rotsztein again. He lives in Montreal and runs the Canadian Internet marketing Association from that spectacular social city. He’s invited to give a lot of talks in Toronto so I see him from time to time when he comes in.

We went out for drinks after the conference, along with cross-channel marketing pro Anastasia Phillips. I got a chance to show them my Bird Photo Booth, and explain how the Birds of Toronto website hosts the 2014 Toronto Bird Photo Booth Business Challenge whereby companies can draw attention to themselves and their birds by hosting the booth for a week. It brought out a lot of laughs and good times, even as other patrons and waiters came to our table and asked questions about the bird photo booth, clearly fascinated by it!

In the end, the conference was a success and I’m happy to have been a part of it.

(Note: In addition to this conference review, I wrote about the event for Digital Journal where I shared even more anecdotes and behind the scene pictures, as well as a piece called “Digital Marketing for Financial Services” on the SMOJoe SEO blog.)

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