Did I mention that I’ve been writing a book lately? Or that it’s called No Small Change and is available for advance order on Amazon? Oh, I did, did I? Sorry about that.
Writing a book makes you think about things so that you have something to say when you write about them. One of the things that my co-author Anthony Thomson and I had to think about was the question of what should, and what shouldn’t, be included within our definition of “retail financial services.” And without more than a few moments’ deliberation, we decided that gambling – whether in casinos, on sporting events or on who’ll replace Theresa May and when – was out.
If you think harder about it, this was a questionable decision. As consumers in group discussions never tire of telling us, perceptually gambling exists at the right-hand end of a financial services spectrum which has mainstream investing roughly in the middle or towards the middle-right, and building society savings over to the left. And in fact there are other things over towards that right-hand end which are undoubtedly gambles, but which are undoubtedly financial services too – things like spread betting, CFDs and these scary-sounding newish things called Binary Options. At the end of the day, they’re all about putting money in and hopefully, though not probably, getting more money out.
So why did AT and I take seconds to exclude gambling from the book?
I guess partly it’s that gambling doesn’t present itself in any way as a part of the financial services world. Gambling as seen on TV, at any rate, presents itself overwhelmingly as part of the world of sport – presented by football commentators and pundits, and featuring people, mostly young men plus Ray Winstone,either playing or watching the game and occasionally doing things on their phones while other youngish men plus Ray Winstone shout at us on the soundtrack.
But as financial services marketing professionals, AT and I aren’t taken in by this determination to break the category rules. Plenty of other brands do that – how about animated meerkats? – but Comparethemarket.com is still part of the financial services world.
No, I think the reason we made the decision to leave it out was simply that we hate it, don’t want anything to do with it and definitely don’t want it cluttering up our book. The business is horrible, the propositions are horrible and above all the advertising is horrible. There’s a lot wrong with financial services, and it’s taking a distressingly long time to put it right. But thank God we’re not working in gambling.