Toronto bank towers

Although the financial advisors surveyed for this year’s Report Card on Banks praised their respective bank’s brand-building efforts, the assessments of the banks’ marketing support initiatives were mixed.

Advisors gave the banks an overall average performance rating of 8.5 in the “firm’s consumer advertising” category, up from 8.1 in 2017. Meanwhile, the overall average performance rating that advisors gave the banks in the “firm’s marketing support for advisor’s practice” category was only 7.7, up slightly from 7.5 last year.

Advisors with Bank of Nova Scotia and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), both based in Toronto, as well as Montreal-based National Bank of Canada, were particularly pleased. In fact, they gave these three banks higher ratings in both categories.

In the cases of Scotiabank and RBC, their advisors were satisfied with those banks’ advertising efforts. In fact, the advisors pointed to their bank’s promotion campaigns surrounding high-profile sporting events.

“We’re the national bank of hockey in Canada,” says a Scotiabank advisor in Ontario. “We’re involved in numerous charitable events [related to] hockey, which I think is really good.

“I like the fact that [RBC] is a high-profile sponsor for a lot of community and national events, such as the Olympics,” says an RBC advisor in Alberta. “This is important exposure for my business.”

Meanwhile, National Bank’s advisors in the bank’s home province of Quebec were especially pleased with their bank’s overall efforts to enhance the bank’s brand in that market.

“I find that [the bank is] very present in the media, television and newspapers,” says a National Bank advisor in Quebec, “[and] the campaigns are excellent.”

But National Bank’s advisors outside Quebec would like to see the bank take a similar approach to advertising in their regions.

“In Ontario, because we’re the small guy, there’s not enough [advertising to consumers],” says a National Bank advisor in that province. “The other banks are in a lot more stuff than we are.”

As for these three banks’ marketing support efforts, advisors praised the variety of available marketing tools – particularly because of the customization options available in the marketing material advisors can use.

“When I’m meeting new clients, it’s important that they have a takeaway,” says an RBC advisor in Alberta. “We get wonderfully printed brochures, on which we can put our pictures, to remind clients who we are.”

“We have an internal website that we get all our marketing material from,” says a Scotiabank advisor in Ontario. “[This portal] gives us a standard introductory mailout that includes space for a biography and a picture.”

The web-based portal is part of bank’s Local Area Marketing Program (LAMP), which provides a dedicated team of marketing experts whom advisors can access, says Laurie Stang, executive vice president, Canadian branch banking, with Scotiabank: “[The portal] offers material that [advisors] can customize to engage their customers, with a focus on driving financial advice conversations. Over the past year, [the content] was enhanced to promote more financial literacy – and a lot of digital resources were added to help advisors communicate with their customers.”

National Bank’s advisors were similarly pleased with their bank’s digital efforts. New profile pages for advisors were added recently to the bank’s revamped website.

Having this material in place allows the bank’s advisors to send information to a client prior to a meeting, says Nancy Paquet, vice president, investment, with National Bank, who noted that the new material gives advisors “more visibility and more credibility because the client knows [who the advisor is] before [the client] actually meets with [the advisor].”

“The marketing support got better,” says a National Bank advisor in Quebec. “The profile pages are attractive for clients. They can even book an appointment online.”

Although many advisors were happier with their banks’ advertising and marketing support efforts year-over-year, that wasn’t the case at all banks. Notably, advisors with Toronto-based TD Wealth Financial Planning, a division of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), were happier with the bank’s consumer advertising initiatives, but more dissatisfied with the available marketing support.

TD’s advisors said they were pleased that their bank’s brand is being advertised virtually “everywhere,” but also suggested that more options should be available in the marketing tools the bank provides – and advisors shouldn’t have to pay for that out of their own pockets.

“We’re limited in our ability to advertise [our businesses],” says a TD advisor in Ontario. “I did some local advertising, but that was all my initiative.”

The bank, for its part, aims to provide more customizable tools for advisors to promote themselves, says Rowena Chan, senior vice president of TD Wealth Financial Planning.

“We have a digital welcome kit [that advisors can send to clients] that’s totally customizable,” Chan says. “There [are web] pages [on which advisors] can put their own bio; they can add or delete information, depending on the clients they’re talking to or the communities they’re in. This [expansion] launched in October, so it’s relatively new.”

Advisors with Toronto-based Bank of Montreal also were dissatisfied with their bank’s marketing support because of the lack of help in covering the costs involved and in using the tools available.

“I’m expected to put my hand in my own pocket to do my marketing,” says a BMO advisor in Ontario. “I wouldn’t mind doing that if I had some way to write that off against my salary.”

Adds a colleague in Alberta: “[BMO has tools available] online through which you can print off banners, posters and brochures, but there’s not a lot of direction on how and when to use them.”