Frances Gordon


Content strategy applied to a fintech start-up in frontier markets

While in the first world, micro-finance is considered a murky last resort, in frontier markets, MFIs (micro-finance institutions) are essential enablers of individuals, families, communities and businesses. But unlike larger and first world financial services firms, which are underpinned by both regulation and infrastructure, MFIs are institutionally and technologically excluded.

Many frontier market MFIs still run on paper. Loan officers travel for hours to collect on loans, and here's a content problem: there are no electronic records. Opportunities for human error (fraud) are rife, worse - how do you run a loan business with no real-time view on how much money you've lent out, how much is overdue, how much is returned?

This case study is about a content strategy to help startup Fintech company, Oradian, to refine and sell a cloud-based solution to MFIs to help them collect, centralise, analyse and provide reports on loan and customer data.

Content is the foundation of both Oradian's technical solution and the way they sell and service it in the world's toughest markets. The case study will look at the creation and benchmarking of some aspects of the Oradian content strategy:

  • Why cloud banking means for financial services content
  • Digital content and the marketing funnel in frontier markets
  • Setting up a content team worldwide
  • Editorial decisions focused on specific sales-driven insights not thought leadership
  • International English not differentiated tone


Frances' career started in rural South Africa where she wrote and designed educational materials for NGO and community programmes, especially in the field of microfinance. During her 20-year career, she has held tenures at Datatec as communications strategist, at London-based Siegel & Gale as Head of Content (EMEA), and at Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy (UK).

Together with lawyer, Candice Burt, Frances co-founded Simplified, a training and consultancy firm working out of Johannesburg, London and Lisbon. Its services include communication and content strategy, writing coaching, content audits, Treating Customers Fairly consultancy, and plain-language rewrites. Over 5 000 professionals have benefited from the Simplified training programme. Frances has worked on documents and websites for blue-chip international companies such as Capital International, NatWest, Royal Mail, Discovery, Liberty Group, NS&I, Old Mutual and Vitality. She also consults to start-ups in the financial sector and has an active interest in financial inclusion programmes across developed as well as emerging markets. Frances sat on the board of international plain language organisation, PLAIN (Plain Language Association InterNational) in 2010. She is currently part of the IPLWG (International Plain Language Working Group), which comprises international experts working to professionalise the field of plain language. She was part of the advisory committee of IC Clear, an EU-funded initiative that is developing a post-graduate course in clear communication. She is an active member of Clarity in the UK, which is an organisation devoted to writing legal information clearly.