Mission North’s New EVP and General Manager on Fintech and Her New Role: Q&A with Nicole Messier
There isn’t a lot that Nicole Messier hasn’t done. Throughout her dynamic 20-year career, Nicole has worked at agencies large and small, spearheaded communications at high-growth startups and led large organizations through pivotal moments of growth. At Mission North, Nicole leads our fintech practice, counseling clients including Betterment, Honey, Gemini and Policygenius. Recently Nicole took on a new role — Mission North’s executive vice president and East Coast general manager — to help lead our team through its next phase of growth and scale our award-winning culture.
As she prepares to tackle this next challenge, I sat down with Nicole to talk about her new role, what tech trends she’s watching and why she’s especially passionate about the possibilities of fintech.
What distinguishes your new role and how does it line up with your superpowers?
As GM, my job is to put together the right team to meet a client’s needs. We structure our account teams around subject matter expertise — in practice areas like Trust (cybersecurity), Future of Work and Life Sciences — as well as specialties like media, content and digital strategy. This depth of expertise is a big part of what differentiates us.
My favorite part of the EVP role is ideation. It’s my job to keep pushing our teams to come up with creative ideas that will help our clients meet their broader business objectives.
Another passion I’ve brought into the role is helping teams enjoy where they work and what they’re working on. Over my career, I’ve gotten a close look at what keeps people excited and engaged. It comes down to good management, transparency and real-time feedback.
You lead our fast-growing Fintech practice and are closely watching the space. What excites you most about the category and how it’s changing?
Fintech has an incredible trajectory. Honey’s $4 billion acquisition by PayPal and Plaid’s $5 billion acquisition by Visa can give you a sense of how big and dynamic the market is. Mission North has built a fantastic practice area on the back of that momentum, growing 140% in 2019. We attribute that to working quickly and thinking big.
Fintech is at the intersection of so many things that drive our world — not just at the global economic level but also in terms of day-to-day consumer finances. I appreciate that our clients are building sustainable businesses by helping their users make smarter financial choices. Betterment is a great example. They’ve aligned people’s retirement savings goals with banking, and as a result, customers are saving more for retirement. Another client, Honey, is breaking down the barriers of fair and affordable shopping and helping households save thousands of dollars a year.
There are a lot of exciting ideas in this sector, and it’s given us an excellent opportunity to flex our muscles across paid, social and educational campaigns.
What technology categories and trends are you keeping a close eye on?
I’m paying close attention to companies that are helping people become financially informed and independent in easy, even automatic ways. Take Monzo, which has created a credit card and banking system that can automatically reject transactions from gambling sites. Think about the kind of protection you could put in place for a family using that tool.
The insurtech sector is also fascinating to me. Younger generations often underprioritize the basics like life or umbrella insurance as a means of financial protection. Not only are tech companies making insurance more affordable and transparent, but they are also building awareness for consumers and making them think differently about these solutions, earlier in their lives.
What stands out to you most about our culture at Mission North?
I love that every person here is rooted in positive intention and drive. That’s our secret sauce — great, smart people. Although we’ve grown rapidly in the last year, it still feels like a family.
We also pride ourselves on being practitioners, and I love that ethos. From our executive team down, we’re all engaged in the client work and our team’s wellbeing. People take pride in pushing the needle for clients, helping them make a big impact for their customers.
What advice would you give brands trying to navigate the current marketing and communications landscape?
I’d counsel brands to always keep in mind how their audience is digesting information and plan integrated campaigns around that. More brands are leveraging content across an extensive network of platforms and channels. There’s a lot of attention on influencer marketing, social media and short-form video. A strong brand moment still comes down to a great idea that news outlets pick up on, and drive real conversion for sales and marketing. It involves all departments working together with a real understanding of how and where people are engaging with content.
What do you spend a lot of time thinking about?
I’d like to contribute more of my time to promoting financial literacy for everyone. I have three kids, and I want them to be more financially savvy than I was as a young person. I left the education system having learned nothing about budgeting, debt or investing. Unfortunately, that’s still a common experience. From both a client and a community perspective, I’m hoping to dedicate myself to programs that are breaking down those barriers.
Are you interested in joining the Mission North team? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here.