Unshackling the Narrative: Revitalising Strategies in Financial Services

Unshackling the Narrative: Revitalising Strategies in Financial Services

In the global world of financial services, where numbers reign supreme and regulations drive change, I’m going to argue that strategies, visions, and missions have started to feel like they belong to the world of bedtime stories rather than captivating narratives. I’m going to take you on a short journey through time to explore the evolution of strategies and the importance of storytelling in our shift from the bottom of the food chain to the top. I’m going to suggest a dire need for a revolution, but with much greater precision in this modern age, in how these components are crafted – aligning them closer to the heart of each of our organisation’s strategic objectives.

From Bottom Feeders to Apex Predators – The Power of Storytelling

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t our opposing thumbs that elevated us to the top of the food chain. Our true superpower lay in our ability to tell stories, to share knowledge, and to strategise collaboratively over time with nursery rhymes, songs, news, and storytelling.  As early humans sat around flickering fires, exchanging tales of triumphs and tribulations, the seeds of strategic thinking were sown – it allowed us to survive, and stopped us being the hunted.

Survival was based on learned experience and fact. That strikes a number of chords in today’s world, not just around the need for evidence-based research for decision making, but also the damage that fake news can do as it hampers and obscures the facts we do need to survive. The fear is created, but how can we be sure that we’re fearful of the right threats or taking the right opportunities and managing the right risks. Even more topical today, the political uncertainty and narration that each and all is creating. How do we know what is true to survive in business or as a society?

Back to the Stone Age

Here’s the quote that also struck me, that when you apply proper economic principles, those of abundance and scarcity, capability, or limitations, can you guess when the most affluent period in our civilisation was?  It was the Stone-Age. Sahlins said “No-one will ever again be as affluent as stone-age humans during the best of the stone-age times – they had everything they needed around them in abundance, and they became very good at getting it. Sophisticated language was their secret weapon”.

Fast forward to the present day, and we find ourselves in a world of facts, figures, regulations, and data-driven decision-making, and we’re losing touch with the power of storytelling in crafting engaging strategies.

The Mundane Trinity – Purpose, Vision, and Mission

Purpose, vision, and mission – the holy trinity of every financial service organisation’s strategic framework. Yet, all too often, they are nothing more than lifeless jargon lost in the corporate labyrinth. The purpose, once meant to be the North Star guiding every decision, becomes a stale echo in a vast ocean of annual reports and the satisfaction of regulatory imperatives. The vision, once the spark igniting innovation, is reduced to mere words on the walls of boardrooms. And the mission, once the rallying cry that united teams, fades into obscurity. It’s high time to breathe life back into these lifeless concepts.

With only a quick scan of the horizon, I can see mammoths out there with statements based around being customer oriented (we exist for our customers), having integrity, being honest and creating sustainable business and environments – these are by far the most common themes. But, when organisations make these statements I always ask myself “What’s the alternative?” Are they otherwise not customer centric, are they not honest unless they’ve set it as their mission? Surely, these are just the things that get you to the mouth of your cave, they might give you a mundane survival, but they don’t expand your horizons.

The Missing Link – Proximity to Strategic Objectives

As we look deeper into the disconnect between the strategic trinity and an organisation’s core objectives, the problem becomes glaringly apparent. Strategies are formulated in silos, detached from the reality of the organisation’s goals. The end result? A cacophony of disparate plans that lack the harmony and power to create meaningful impact. By bridging the gap between purpose, vision, mission, and strategic objectives, financial services companies can pave the way to a more cohesive and impactful future.

Unleashing the Untamed – A Better Strategic Framework

To reinvigorate strategies within the realm of financial services, we must look beyond the mundane and embrace the untamed. As leaders and visionaries, we’ve got to dare to weave tales of purpose that inspire and resonate with our teams, allies, customers, and clients alike. We’ve got to paint visions that ignite the flames of ambition and drive innovation. And our missions should not be mere lip service, but powerful oaths that unite us in pursuit of our shared dreams.


In the world of financial services, the time has come to break free from the shackles of blandness and ignite the power of storytelling in our strategies. By infusing purpose, vision, and mission with authenticity and proximity to strategic objectives, we can lead our organisations to new heights of success. So, let us embrace the edgy, the unconventional, and the compelling narratives that breathe life into our strategies, and invite financial service companies to refresh their approach and embrace a more powerful and engaging strategic framework. Let our stories shape our future.

If you’re interested in looking at your strategy, strategic objectives, or decision-making frameworks, then I’d love for you to get in touch.

Keep exploring...

The Advice Guidance Boundary Review: Solving the demand-side equation
Governance in IT 
Stop Ignoring End-of-Life Core Operating Software


Don't miss out on news and opinion pieces from Altus experts

Insights - Subscribe form

Business email preferable
Please confirm what you would like to receive from us