INTERVIEW: How Arbuthnot Latham combines digital with relationship banking

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Arbuthnot Latham is seeking to combine modern digital engagement and personal service, says Head of Marketing and Proposition Virginie Dafforn-Gorgemans.

Virginie joined the firm in 2018, when marketing was primarily an events and design team. She was brought in to professionalise the function and define the value of marketing for the business.

“I presented what I thought we could do. Then, very quickly when I joined, I realised that there was actually a bigger gap than I had thought.”

She began by crafting more of a narrative around the business so that everyone would talk about it in the same way, a project which reinvigorated how people saw the bank both internally and externally. This included creating a new pitchbook, honing the firm’s logo and tagline and more broadly, evolving the brand from an undifferentiated “bank out of a box” to – as Virginie terms it – a recognisable brand which could be gradually built upon.

The marketing challenge with Arbuthnot Latham is that it sees itself as a modest brand, wishing to reach only the audiences that need to know about it, without alienating those who wouldn’t be a able to bank there. This rules out big above-the-line campaigns, such as placing ads in airport lounges, which would be “a natural place to be”, meaning most activity is focused on PR and performance marketing to build the brand and generate leads.

The bulk of this is done through performance marketing: SEO work, social media, press both traditional and digital, and paid advertising. This is then used to deliver high quality leads back to the sales team.

“The key to the success of my team has been the ability to deliver really high-quality leads, which in turn delivered high ROI; this has then given us a bigger and bigger remit.”

This has allowed her to grow her team beyond marketing to incorporate product and proposition. Virginie says that the evolution of the team came from “building trust and always communicating back the successes that we had”. The focus on marketing effectiveness, especially on revenue-generated versus cost-to-the-bank, proved to be popular in building trust with a numbers-focused C-suite.

The goal is to combine digital engagement with traditional personalised client service, working closely with the broader business development functions. This is supported by tech platforms such as Drupal and the Salesforce B2B stack.

“We’re able to do account-based marketing and target throughout the funnel and track what we do. As marketers we can be victims of having too much information. My view is you need to have the right information – you need to know who your customers are and know what they want.”

Knowing this, Arbuthnot Latham can target its clients with the right content and ads and be in the right place at the right time. Keywords might include things like ‘private banking, ‘poor service’, ‘personal relationship’, or ‘direct contact’. She notes that the quickest conversions come from people who are disgruntled with their banks.

“The day they’re looking for a new bank they will then remember us or look for ‘London private banks’. They’ll find us and come on our website.”

Virginie and her team are then able to track an individual’s activity through the website as that individual researches what Arbuthnot does, such as by reading thought leadership articles. Crucially, the journey pushes them towards a form where prospects input information about what they are looking for in a large amount of detail.

“[The form] helps us to take that lead and pass it onto the bankers who actually call people up.

“Very quickly, we go back to the relationship bank, to the phone call, and then the in-person contact.”

The firm has a 24-hour rule for when somebody receives a phone call after a lead is created.

“The phone call is really what unlocks whether that person is the right potential client for us or not, because obviously we don’t want to string someone along, someone who might not be high net worth, or who we might not be the right bank for.”

When a banker gets a lead, they will have quite a lot of information already and will be able to see what part of the website the prospect has looked at or which ad they clicked on.

The idea is to solve problems for clients rather than push products – no-one in the organisation is targeted on product sales. The questions establish what people’s aims are, what they are trying to achieve, what their financial goals are.

“Based on that we can offer them different solutions and expertise.”

The key focus over the next year will be deepening the integration between product and marketing.

“It’s really about integrating proposition and go-to-market so that we are even more targeted and personalised in what we do.”

There will also be a project around ensuring products are being offered at the right price, as well as a big customer experience project based on tracking clients through the cycle to ensure that the firm delivers on its promises to clients.

Reflecting on why the firm has been able to develop a sophisticated marketing strategy, she says:

“We’re smaller so we’re able to be agile: try, fail, learn, and improve. We also have more control over the cycle as the team bases decisions on market-orientation and research: targeting clients with the right propositions for each segment we chose to operate in and finally delivering go-to-market plans adapted to these segments. We also have an in-house digital and design team which enables quick and high quality execution.”

Virginie will speak at our upcoming digital transformation in asset management conference on 7 March.

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