Living The Brand Helps Banks

Increase Insurance Sales

BY

Miami

“Living the brand” is credited by 2 separate bank investment program executives as a key reason for their companies success in building sales of insurance and investment products.

The concept of living the brand is a marketing strategy that shifts focus away from traditional brand-strengthening programs based on sales promotion and other external media and toward strengthening employees role in building a companys brand recognition.

As explained by the 2 executives during the recent Bank Insurance & Securities Association annual meeting here, living the brand means a couple of things for a financial services firm. One is to establish the company as an expert ally of customers in reaching their own financial goals and the other is to do what top management needs to get all elements of the company dedicated to establishing a strong brand in consumers minds.

Brian T. Moynihan, executive vice president and head of regional commercial financial services and investment management for FleetBoston Financial, said his bank surveyed thousands of consumers before determining that it wanted to establish itself with customers as “a forward-looking financial services leader working with you in pursuit of your success.”

In short, FleetBoston sought to project the image of a knowledgeable financial partner that can help the client make smarter decisions about money, he said.

Part of that strategy includes building relationships on trust and integrity. Moynihan acknowledged that has been a challenge after the bank was implicated with a number of other firms in recent scandals involving late trading in the banks mutual fund business. “Were trying to get the mutual fund issue behind us,” he said.

Setting the tone has to come from the top, and FleetBostons top management intends to push that message down through all levels of the company, he said, adding the bank also has enhanced policies and procedures to bar unethical business practices.

Because customer satisfaction is another key component of living the brand, FleetBoston is strengthening the financial knowledge of the banks own investment advisors, he said.

Employee satisfaction, too, is an important part of the strategy, because the quality of FleetBostons customer service hinges on it, said Moynihan. To that end, the bank has given employees interfacing with customers additional freedom to take action independently to clear up customer problems, he said.

Because of that and other moves, Fleet found that employee satisfaction levels have risen at the bank, Moynihan claimed.

A similar dual focus on customers and employees has been a factor behind the growth of RBC Insurance Services sales in the U.S., says Mark Tonneson, vice chairman and chief financial officer for RBC Insurance Holdings, Toronto.

His units version of living the brand involves “always earning the right to be the clients first choice” for insurance solutions, he said, by providing multiple distribution channels and product lines, as well as investment services.

Living the brand means “understanding what the company stands for and what you want it to stand for,” Tonneson added.

But in getting employees behind the effort, RBC faced a conflict between its retail banking operations and its mutual fund business.

“They were competing with each other for similar client business,” Tonneson said. “We needed to find a way to identify which clients would benefit from deposit accounts and which would prefer mutual funds.”

RBC sought to provide what Tonneson called a “seamless” referral experience for customers. One result: an increase in total business from referrals last year of 52% over 2002 levels.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 2, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.