More than ever, as marketing continues to be at the forefront of digital transformation, the function must work aggressively to move from being a cost center to being a true engine of growth. For this to happen, many critical organizational changes must take place, ranging from cultural changes, to building information infrastructures for better measurement, to closer alignment between the different functional roles of the C-Suite.
With that in mind, I wanted to speak to a digital innovator known for his data-driven transformation strategies that drive growth. I recently spoke with Kirti Naik, Global Head of Marketing and Communications for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. She is a digital marketing pioneer and growth strategist with years of experience with major financial brands such as OppenheimerFunds (now Invesco), Russell Investments and Citibank. We’ve talked about everything from the ever-changing marketing landscape to the need to always identify ways to help grow the business, even after benchmarks are met. Here’s a summary of our conversation:
Billee Howard: Nice to talk to you Kirti. For a year and more, you have assumed your role as a leader in digital transformation at BNY Mellon Wealth Management. Tell me about your journey and the process that led to it, please.
Kirti Naik: First of all, thank you for inviting me and our brand to have this discussion. I joined during a very complex time. The pandemic had really just taken hold of the world and the US market, and I started in July 2020. Our business was going through a major transformation at that time and the role of marketing very quickly became quite relevant to the organization. in terms of Wealth. Management. As an industry, these are high quality premium experiences. It all depends on how we interact with each other in person. Marketing before the pandemic hit was really seen as a service and a support function. When I joined us, we had just started to look to virtual events, looking at how to do it best, how to implement it and how to get customers to participate? Because events were really at the heart of what marketing did to support the wealth management business, the obvious question was how can this be online?
I quickly read the situation and saw that we weren’t really taking advantage of all the different channels available to marketing to add value. We not only pivoted to virtual events, but we also had to look at this new proprietary framework and platform that was being rolled out in the market and called “”Active wealth. ‘ It is about applying the right framework to build, perpetuate and develop your wealth strategy. This is really important because there are five key practices in the process: investing, borrowing, spending, managing your taxes and expenses. Also, how do you protect your assets and your legacy? I was looking at this frame and thought it was great that we were turning to virtual events because it’s a great platform for us to do that. But, how can we actually connect with our customers and educate them? We’ve really changed our entire strategy from being much more of an on-demand warranty center, to a digital experience that allows us to help clients identify key strategies that are going to help move business forward.
Howard: You and I recently talked about best practices for CMO / CTO alignment and building a data driven organization. In fact, you mentioned that you established a close relationship with your CTO from day one. Tell me more.
Naik: I come from a digital marketing training. I was doing digital even before it was considered a wagering requirement in most brands. Because of my story, it was really important for me to start day one and identify who are the people who are driving this business forward in terms of data, technology, information and data collection. I really integrated into the processes my CTO and CIO were building for wealth. I knew right away that I wanted marketing to partner with them first and foremost to uplift what they were already doing, but also work to identify solutions to move the business forward.
It was really important that marketing did not work in a vacuum, and I spent many weeks with them, not only from an operational and financial point of view, but collaboratively, it would allow us to work together to have gains. fast in the short term. , but also build a long-term strategy. In the first three months of arriving and aligning with the right digital and tech players, we were able to create a business case for investing in marketing technology, as well as getting the right kind in place. support structure so that I can start rotating our organization to absorb digital. You can’t do it alone as a marketer, you need the help of operations and technology to bring your ideas to life. We have actually increased that mandate tenfold this year and are now working hand in hand with the same elements to build towards 2022 and beyond.
Howard: That’s a great answer, and I think it will be very informative because a lot of people struggle with a lot of what you’re talking about. With that in mind, I’d like your take on another big challenge right now: moving from the personalized to the individualized, in a way that accommodates business intimacy. Can you tell me what you think?
Naik: If one segment requires individualization, it is the ultra-high net worth segment. They are very, very important investors in our market. These are people who run businesses, create jobs, donate to charities, start up and give grants to those in need. It is a very important population that we not only serve, but with which we also collaborate in various capacities. We have to be very careful and judicious in our process and approach to make sure that we are still very delicate and surgical in the way we promote ourselves and our offerings. Digital technology allows us to do this in a very concerted and evolving manner. Now what I mean by that is it’s not about going out and just putting banner ads all over the internet or throwing emails for no reason.
It’s really about taking elements of behavioral targeting and collecting that data in a meaningful way. It’s about applying some of these algorithm-based data elements and then actually identifying the overlapping needs of those constituents and personalities. We also work in very close partnership with sales. The way we’ve done it is really to partner closely with the client-facing strategist, the wealth managers, complementing them to help them open the door to creating meaningful interactions. That’s where I think the power comes in. It’s not in the micro segmentation, or the spray and prayer model. There is a balance needed between the two to approach your clients so that it is truly personalized and they feel that we can advise them on what they need most, at the right time.
Howard: Finally, we discussed the shift of marketing from a cost center to a hypergrowth engine. Tell me about the best practices around this idea, especially since you’ve used marketing to bring in a lot of assets since you took office.
Naik: I think marketing has always been seen as a complement to visibility, generally speaking, and in particular the wealth management industry has undergone a massive transformation, as a sector of the larger financial services industry. Wealth management companies need to be able to embrace the skills of the new age. These include technology, social dynamics, new ecosystem players and even the rise of different digital channels and assets. We need to understand that the investor population is changing rapidly. We have the Baby Boomers and Generation X, but now we also have Generation Y and Generation Z. They all have different needs. Yes, it is essential that we really understand who we are talking to and what we want to offer them. Frankly, marketing should be one of the most powerful business levers to generate measurable hyper growth.
To achieve this vision, we began to identify mechanisms for number one, measuring the effectiveness of what we still do. This is the first rule of thumb that I introduced in every organization. You have to prove your worth and you do it by driving strategy. Second, how do you equip the field, the sales teams with new opportunities? It absolutely always has to be about that part of it. People have often told me that in B2B marketing cannot generate leads. It’s ridiculous. Yes, we should help you with all the tools you need, your various media, but marketing should do a lot more than that. I think it’s up to us as marketers to figure out how to create the demand. Third, I think it comes down to the customer experience. We need to empower those in contact with the customer and really increase the value of online experiences. Therefore, we always have to think about how we leverage traditional owned and acquired digital, all the different channels available to us to deliver the best customer experience.
At BNY Mellon Wealth Management, a recent and powerful example that I can share to demonstrate how we have leveraged all of these channels is the launch of our Active Wealth Accelerator. It is a commercially available, interactive, educational and immersive platform. The Active Wealth Accelerator is a mobile and desktop experience, easily shareable via a QR code and intended for potential clients to help them assess their wealth strategy through a series of 15 questions related to our five Active Wealth practices. Based on the responses, a personalized recommendation is presented, showcasing the strengths and opportunities of the investor through Active Wealth, and promoting the relevant content to help unlock their financial potential. The value of the tool is that it helps individuals better understand their wealth needs, as well as ask the right questions of themselves and their advisers ultimately.