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The sixth CX50 list of the UK’s top 50 customer experience professionals (CX) reveals the key trends in a complex and highly regulated sector. Find the 10 names from the second of this year’s five sector categories below.

Brands in the financial services (FS) sector bear huge responsibilities to their customers, but they also have immense opportunity to earn loyalty through great CX — something that is vital in a transforming industry which is growing increasingly competitive. 

In the second of five featured sectors in this year’s CX50 list, below we reveal the names of 10 customer experience professionals who have stood out from their peers as high achievers and thought leaders at financial brands. Compiled by Marketing Week in partnership with Cognizant and Adobe, the CX50 list celebrates those who are excelling at customer service, digital innovation, data-driven insight and more.

As John Da Gama-Rose, Cognizant's Head of Banking and Financial Services, Global Growth Markets, points out: “In an ever-evolving industry like financial services, where competition is fierce and trust is paramount, exceptional customer experience isn't just a goal — it's an imperative. It's our responsibility to not only meet but exceed customer expectations, earning their loyalty through every interaction. The CX50 list holds significance as it underscores the pivotal role CX professionals play in today's constantly evolving business landscape.”



Chief Marketing Officer

Lloyds Banking Group



Chief Operating Officer 

The Co-operative Bank



Interim Chief Marketing Officer

Direct Line Group



Director of Growth and Marketing Operations

Starling Bank



UK Country Manager

American Express



Chief Product Officer




Chief Executive Officer

First Direct



Chief Client and Commercial Officer

Hargreaves Lansdown



Chief Operating Officer

NatWest Group



Chief Customer and Marketing Officer



Trust is paramount

There are plenty of headwinds making it difficult for brands to offer exceptional CX in the worlds of banking, insurance and investments. Rising interest rates, the cost-of-living crisis and the risks of online fraud can make financial decisions far from comfortable for customers. For market disruptors and incumbents alike, putting minds at ease is a prerequisite.

Gemma Johnson, Director of Growth and Marketing Operations at Starling Bank, has all of these hurdles to jump plus the need to establish credibility as a challenger brand. CX is central to all its efforts, she says.

Building and maintaining trust is essential for banks; the experience we provide goes a long way in defining whether people trust us, whether they will become a customer and whether they will stay as a customer. Starling was founded with the ambition to change banking for good by creating an experience that puts the customer first.”

At more established financial services companies, the challenge is very different. Customers are very familiar with them but, being large institutions, they usually comprise multiple brands with different customer relationships and perceptions. 

Lloyds Banking Group is 15 brands,” explains group CMO Suresh Balaji. “If the brand promise is to translate to experience, how do we multiply that 15 times and not add oodles of cost, or oodles of complexity? It’s a challenge that stares at me every day. The Lloyds brand needs to stretch from first-time buyers to private banking, from children’s SmartStart to Scottish Widows pensions. It’s a tough one to balance a multi-branded portfolio and still build deep connections.” 

Building experience by design

Whether a brand was founded 10 years ago like Starling or over 250 years ago like Lloyds, today’s customers expect dealing with financial providers to be simple. For example, Balaji joined Lloyds in October 2023, and the organisation is in the midst of transforming its customer-facing functions to operate as a more cohesive whole. 

There is a systemic advantage in putting brand, marketing and experience teams together,” he says. “The way Lloyds Bank is designed is to support different platforms with end-to-end accountability. Homes, lending and markets are each a platform, and those teams are cross-functional teams; they work in an agile manner. This strategy is two years old and is still evolving as we speak.”

Johnson at Starling is similarly in favour of a joined-up approach to CX in financial organisations: “Good communication brings skills together; the different components of CX only work well together if the people creating them are talking to each other.”

Unifying teams, enabling them to work together across customer journeys that zig and zag, is an essential foundation of great CX, says Balaji. “The opportunity is to bring the best of experience design into the organisation to make sure brand promises are kept. There’s no point in building advertising-led brands anymore. The phrase we use internally over and over again is experience-led brands.” 

Running through the Lloyds business like a stick of rock are the letters ‘UUDD’, which form the bank’s ‘experience pyramid’, standing for useful, usable, delightful and desirable. Balaji says his 450 experience designers will use this hierarchy whenever they develop new products or experiences.

We have to make sure that all the work our teams produce sits in one of those four levels and is appropriate for each customer journey.

Yet, even with a drive towards consistency, there is scope to experiment and innovate in the sector. “At Starling, we look for people who are inquisitive, willing to learn, and open to understanding our customers, their needs and their expectations,” Johnson says. “We need many different skill sets in our team, which has a balance of the logical skills required for data analysis, testing and research, as well as the creative skills that help build our user experience and brand.”

The customer experience ‘trinity’

For Balaji, there are three key components to CX. “I look at it as the Venn diagram of data, technology and creativity. At Lloyds Banking Group there are 25 million-plus customers. If you can look at what customers in the UK want, and look at our transaction data, then bring in external data around what people are searching for – between those we can get a good understanding of customer needs.”

Balaji adds that there is a wealth of internal technology at the bank to support this insight generation, including an operating system providing everything designers need to make sure the customer journey is consistent. It’s also designed to be flexible, allowing experimentation and innovation. 

For example, he says: “We are in early experiments around GenAI and how we can use it to build journeys. We’re working with a partner now to test whether the technology can help us with customer communications, with a few prompts so there is a ‘brand brain’ to create communication.”

It's clear that, while brand stewardship is vital, Balaji wants to build an environment where employees can take chances. “It’s psychological safety. Can we give our designers a safe space to be creative? Can they test and learn and come back saying this is what has been successful, or this is what we have learned?” 

When striving to evolve and improve the CX, the possibilities are vast and growing, so experimenting can make all the difference, and this is something CX50 members know all too well. As Cognizant's Da Gama-Rose notes, those who have made it onto the list "possess a diverse skill set, impacting not only customer-facing elements but also broader business strategies and even employee satisfaction. Furthermore, they maintain a forward-looking approach, closely monitoring trends that will shape future customer expectations." 


The Marketing Week CX50, in partnership with Cognizant and Adobe, is the pre-eminent annual list of the UK’s top 50 CX professionals, now in its sixth year. For 2024, we have taken a new sector-driven approach to compiling the CX50 list, in an effort to better represent the diverse range of customer experiences and priorities present across the economy – particularly increasing its coverage of B2B organisations and the public sector compared to previous years. The CX50 2024 is divided into the following five sectors, each featuring 10 professionals:

  • Retail, consumer goods, travel and hospitality
  • Financial services
  • Public sector
  • Manufacturing, logistics, energy and utilities
  • Life sciences

Our criteria and methodology for determining the CX50’s members remain the same as in previous years. In order to create a pool of candidates, we combine nominations from Marketing Week and Cognizant’s professional networks with independent measures of brands that perform highly on CX. To select the final list, we then assess individuals’ achievements in the past year and over the course of their careers against the three criteria of impact, innovation and influence.

The CX50 members possess an eclectic set of skills and responsibilities, all crucial in the effort to deliver exceptional customer experience, so while we have not split the CX50 2024 into the five categories we have used previously, these nevertheless remain relevant as descriptions of who the CX50 are and what they embody, namely: organisational leaders, brand guardians, technologists, disruptors/challengers and growth drivers.

Discover more on CX50 here.

Cognizant UK & Ireland
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