Coutts is a fascinating organisation. 325 years old, sometimes secretive, often philanthropic.
Coutts’ head of products, services and marketing, Ian Ewart, spoke at the Festival of Marketing 2014. He gave the lowdown on exactly how such a venerable institution goes about remaining relevant and delighting demanding customers.
Take a peek into the world of those with at least £1m of investable lolly.
What do the wealthy want?
The Coutts brand is worth around £1bn, so protecting an asset like that is pretty important.
Its logo represents an institution that understands what the wealthy want, which is frequently to hold on to what they’ve accrued.
Ian also made the point that the wealthy attribute highest value to the same things as the poor, namely health and education for themselves and their families.
The Coutts brand is the Coutts people
Coutts aims to be cosmopolitan, human and networked.
The people are important because Coutts doesn’t have a tangible product for sale. It’s the defining service business.
Interestingly, Ian talked of Coutts’ people acting as advisors, so there’s no ‘butler speak’, nothing deferential or in the ‘Jeeves’ style.
Attention to detail is incredibly important. So much so that the marketing and events staff have to wear this comfortably and remain ‘always on’.
Coutts can arrange spectacular events, but if there’s a spelling mistake in a letter, if the letter doesn’t get there in time, or if it goes to the wrong person, these clients do not forgive very easily.
Sophistication is defined by many things, the small, such as the company’s palette, and the large, such as inviting clients in for a dinner to meet the team working on graphene at Manchester University, to chat and network with them and potentially invest in the product.
However, Ian points out that unless Coutts gets envelopes and business cards right, it can’t do the sexy stuff.
Perfecting the experiential
Events are incredibly important to Coutts – the experiential moment.
Events are about money-can’t-buy experiences. So, rather than going to the Rolls Royce factory and driving the new model, perhaps clients can spend an afternoon with the engineers, getting an insight into how they approach a design challenge.
Creating a legacy
Most Coutts clients have an idea of legacy. They have a wish for their money to do something after they have gone. They think about such things as a wing in a museum, a collection with their name on the door.
Coutts has great heritage in this area with Angela Burdett Coutts, one of the wealthiest women in Victorian England, being a major benefactor of the NSPCC and social housing projects, amongst many other causes.
Coutts maintains close links with The Connection (a charity run out of St Martins in the Field church), which was connected with Burdett Coutts and her close advisor, Charles Dickens.
Coutts staff continue to work providing breakfast, helping with CVs and suits for people getting back on their feet. In 2014, Coutts also worked with the Army Benevolent Fund, as part of the Chelsea Flower Show, with RAKE and Stella McCartney on a series of scarves for women battling cancer.
This range of philanthropic work is attractive to clients who also want to use some of their assets to make a difference.
New clients and a new image
Over 80% of Coutts clients are entrepreneurs. Self-made men and women.
The institution is aware it needs to present itself as contemporary. This is done in a variety of ways, from Damien Hirst sculpture to ensuring digital needs of tech-savvy customers are met, whether it’s booking a Coutts meeting room online or viewing insights on a customer dashboard.