INTERVIEW: Charles Stanley’s Marketing Director on smarter segmentation

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Wealth management firm Charles Stanley is looking to move beyond demographics in its segmentation strategy in order to build more personalised journeys for clients.

Founded in 1792, Charles Stanley is one of the UK’s largest wealth managers, offering both bespoke wealth management services and direct to consumer offerings. Since 2022 it has been part of parent company Raymond James Financial Inc, which has £870 billion in AUM.

Marketing Director Matt Heaven joined the firm in October 2022, with his arrival an opportunity to look at what the marketing function should look like to future-proof its support for the business.

The time since then has seen a phased change to a new structure, reorganised around four pillars: strategy & client marketing, , digital, brand & creative, and events & sponsorship. The team has also increased from 18 people to 28, reflecting the breadth of proposition and audience.

One of the biggest aspects of the transformation has been in “enabling subject matter experts to be subject matter experts.”

“I think the way we were organised previously, it just didn’t allow that,” Matt explains. “It was an extremely collaborative team and the execution and output was fantastic, but were we actually allowing them to do the roles they really wanted to and get the most from them?

“We are absolutely in that position now.”

So far, the firm’s acquisition by Raymond James has not changed anything from a marketing perspective. The firm still goes to market through two separate client-facing brands.

For Charles Stanley, this means a master brand and sub-brand architecture through Charles Stanley and Charles Stanley Direct.

He describes the brand strategy as being focused on “meaningfully different” and the overall marketing strategy as “balanced”. The firm typically aims for a 60-40 ratio in how it allocates budget between brand and acquisition, with a mid to long-term focus. He contrasts this with some peers, which tend to be more aggressive on the acquisition side.


Smarter segmentation

The firm looks at its prospects primarily from an attitude and behavioural perspective. Generally, he says, clients have been looked at through a demographic lens, whereas there is more of a move to look at things from a “psychographic” perspective.

“I think if you put two 60-year-olds in the same camp, they don’t necessarily think and feel exactly the same.”

This means that communications and experiences should be nuanced to allow for this.

“There is still an element of demographics because at certain age points, there will be certain things that people are facing, whether that’s buying a house or having a family.”

The key defining factor is the extent to which people want to take control of their personal finances or they want someone else to do it for them.

“Irrespective of where people may sit on the wealth spectrum, their behaviours and their attitudes may well be extremely similar in terms of the way in which we’re communicating to them.”

From a managed services perspective he says there are roughly 2.1 million people in the UK that fit the profile of who the firm would like to work with. The firm has done a lot of work over the last 18 months around this group.

“It’s a very focused strategy. We know who we’re going after, we know where they are and then subsequently our campaigns are very much tailored towards those.”


Personal journeys

This means walking these potential clients through a broad variety of different journeys.

“That depends very much on where that person is in their personal journey. Do they have absolutely no understanding of the services for their particular needs and are doing a lot of research, or do they have that understanding in the first instance and are essentially an active buyer?”

“What do the content plans need to look like in order to take those clients through the journey? What gaps do we have? What needs to be filled? How does that link back to consumer duty?”

He adds: “We very much take a multi-channel approach; those channels support one another and I don’t think that’s something that can be underestimated.”

“You need to really assess the performance of channels based on the specific objectives you’ve set alongside them. For example, somebody might click on a paid search ad, go away, then a day, a week or a month later, come back directly to the website.

“I think it is difficult to say that this particular channel is doing better than that channel. You need to look at it as a whole.”

The three biggest drivers of traffic are organic and paid search, followed by direct website visits. Matt says the latter demonstrates how some channels play a role in general awareness that can’t necessarily be measured directly in metrics. The website is the primary generator of opportunities, including both direct enquiries and soft leads.

“Whether someone’s downloading a guide or subscribing to a webinar, that’s the starting point in terms of visibility, but all of the channels that we use contribute to that web traffic.”

Charles Stanley treats leads differently depending on their journey. The larger opportunities are triaged through the business development team, who are briefed at the point the inquiry is handed over to them, based for example on what content they have engaged with.

However, it’s only during a proper conversation when the firm gets an opportunity to really ask detailed questions.

“We won’t know 100% from someone’s journey through the website what persona they’re likely to match up to. The way in which we deal with that is to provide practitioners with what we call golden questions to help them ascertain what sort of person is this and how they are likely to think.”

There is also a diagnostic tool which allows practitioners to answer those questions themselves. This produces a model of that person and flags what teams should be mindful of in future engagements with them.

Martech is also playing a growing role in generating “next best actions” for people to take based on these personas.

“I think it also provides an opportunity to automate processes to free up time,” says Matt. “There’s subsequently a business benefit to that in enabling people to spend more time thinking about what comes next, rather than I’ve got this task to deliver and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

Looking ahead Charles Stanley has five priority areas – strategy, brand, content, martech and operations.

This year client centricity, personalisation and segmentation will sit at the heart of the strategy.

“A key thing for us is to make sure that those campaigns are leveraged on a national basis. We have 20-plus branches making sure that we are going to market as one is paramount.”

There are also new channel launches around acquisition, which Matt notes is challenging currently due to economic and geopolitical factors.

Finally, the team itself is a key area of focus.

“We’ve brought in different capabilities, but we now need to be looking at that team holistically and thinking about how we enable them to grow and develop.

“We now very much have the shape of team that we need for the future but won’t be resting on our laurels.”

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