“The Triangular Model of Financial Communication” by Tina Chang

Earlier this year, Chia-Yen Tina Chang, a graduate student from New York University, attended several FCS events while she was working on her thesis. Freshly graduated with her M.S. degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communication, Tina shared her summary report "The Triangular Model of Financial Communication" and full thesis paper "Agile Financial Communicators’ Adaptation to Digital or Data-Driven Transformation," which FCS members should find to be quite interesting.

Originally from Taipei before moving to New York, Tina is "an explorer with a pinch of adaptability and creativity." She's actively looking for marketing/communication entry-level roles in Finance & Technology.

The FCS is proud to share her academic work, excerpted below, with links to the full report and paper.

The Triangular Model of Financial Communication [Page numbers refer to the paper.]

Two-thirds of businesses recognize their company must digitize by 2020, in order to stay competitive (p.4). People expect organizational communications to be transparent, efficient, dynamic and to flow easily between the communicating entities (p.4). Financial service firms are dealing with other people’s money and this nature of the financial industry demands strict standards to engender trust. The impact of COVID-19 has led to a more expansive permeation of digital communication tools, at a rate not previously predicted. This triangular model of financial communication is concluded in a deductive notion, based on the findings throughout the paper. It aims to reach a greater clarity by conceptualizing the correlation between the utilization of technology, and the establishment of a trusting, long-term relationship in financial communications (p.45).

Findings from both the literature review and primary research conducted through interviews with subject matter experts. Combined, the study explores the correlations among “communication technology, measurement technology and trust and long-term relationship” in a triangular model. The model demonstrates a strategic implementation of human touch in deployment of technology.

  • Tina's advisor on her thesis, NYU Adjunct Instructor John Santoro, commented, "Tina completed a very good paper on the relationship (one could even call it a 'love-hate relationship') between the revolutionary digital technologies reshaping business and the old fashioned element of human touch, as these both relate to the financial services industry. The Triangular Model of Financial Communication, which Tina conceived and introduces in her Capstone, is intriguing and should be noted by all financial communications and marketing professionals."

Agile Financial Communicators’ Adaptation to Digital or Data-Driven Transformation

Hypothesis: While today’s financial communicators must quickly adapt to advances in communications technology, a process that challenges them and their institutions, technological savvy is not enough, as the most successful communicators combine
technological mastery with skill in relationship-building. There will be three explorative directions within this hypothesis – the adaption speed, the learning curve, and the human touch requirement in financial communications. First, in order for financial communicators to stay current and effective, they need to quickly adapt to measurement technology tools and new digital mediums. Second, the learning curve for such adaptation is often steep and complex. Finally, in addition to being adept at using technology, human intuition and skill in relationship-building remain critical in successful financial communications.

Modern technology tools are making communications much faster and more convenient, often eliminating the restrictions of space and time, and enabling the immediacy and variety in expressions through different communication mediums. Hence, it is an inevitable requirement for financial communicators to adapt to technology in an agile manner in order to stay current and competitive. While harnessing the technology, financial communicators should not lose the sight of the ultimate goal of maintaining a long-term relationship with their audiences – that is, not to lose trust in communications.

The findings of this study confirm two of the three elements in the hypotheses: the importance of adapting to technology, and the enduring value of trust in financial communications. The evolving technology leads financial communicators to navigate which
tool or platform is best for them to use, with the first-mover advantage to precisely reach their target audiences. With technology tools becoming more intuitive, it will be less difficult for financial communicators to learn to use a new technology. On the other hand, putting progressive technology development aside, there has always been an inherent value of trust in the financial industry. In a situation where technology makes communication easier and faster, communicators should pay extra attention to the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It is true that the cost of complexity in using technology is decreasing, but on the other hand, technology also increases the chance for receivers to misinterpret the message because it is not delivered with commonly accepted projections of tone, eye contact, body language, and attitude, and other elements in human interactions. With one impact of the coronavirus pandemic being the normalization of technology in enabling business, the future of financial communication technology can now be reimagined with a purpose to recreate the benefit of in-person communication remotely. Therefore, the Triangular Model of Financial Communication can help communicators think through their communication strategies by putting trust and long-term relationship as top of mind, and adding human elements in a digital way in developing tactics and measuring results. The future can bring the best of both worlds—the warmth and bonds of human connection, now unbounded by the limits of time and space.