How the changing demographics are affecting wealth manager brands

The Bank of England

Russ Welch

Lead Creative

Posted on June 10, 2019

Over the first half of this year, a couple of projects have required us to conduct a visual audit of the private wealth management market – and the sea of heritage brands, lions, shields and vague promises in latin left us deliberating what a modern wealth manager brand may look like.

It is not difficult to understand how these brands came to exist. After all, the values of long-term experience, protection and stability remain valid. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The problems with heritage branding

The problems arise firstly when you’re attempting to stand out in a sector where you look and sound similar to everyone else. In a market where many companies are offering very similar services, it is important to identify what it is that makes you different; why somebody should choose you ahead of the others. This point of difference, if successfully woven into the fabric of your brand, is what will help you to stand out.

A second problem with heritage branding is that it can make you appear out of touch with contemporary issues. Establishing yourself as a knowledgable voice on the current state of a rapidly changing economic environment can be hindered by a visual style that has both feet planted firmly in the past.

With this in mind it is clearly advantageous to have a brand that balances both tradition and modernity. That in some way engenders trust and stability but is clearly focused on the road ahead.

Worst off are the relative newcomers to the market who choose to adopt a heritage brand. Even the scantest of research will reveal this to be, at best, disingenuous and it must be difficult to marry this fake heritage with ideals such as transparency and honesty.

In addition to this they are left doubly burdened: appearing out of touch with contemporary issues, on one hand, whilst not having the loyal and established customer base of a genuinely established company to fall back on.

Changing demographics will drive modernisation

One of the factors that will continue to influence wealth manager brands is changing demographics.

A lot of wealth management companies grew from initially managing the finances of a select few high net worth friends, families and contacts; often white, often male. Due to the prevelance of heritage branding across the sector, it is safe to assume that this aesthetic appealed to the tastes of this demographic.

However, as these wealth managers move into retirement and their clients’ capital gets passed down a generation via inheritance, the shape of the wealth management market is changing.

As the target demographic becomes younger, less male dominated, more racially diverse and increasingly digitally native, wealth manager brands are going to require a long overdue rethink in order to appeal to a new set of aesthetic sensibilities.