INTERVIEW: Wesleyan Marketing Director on ‘mutuality with edge’

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Wesleyan’s Marketing Director has put in place a 10-part marketing strategy based on customer centricity and data as she seeks to build the company’s reputation as a “mutual with edge”.

Claire Oldstein joined Wesleyan, which offers financial advice for professionals including doctors, dentists and teachers, in November 2021. She says the first 10 months have been “really busy” as she has got to know the business and the team, looking at the company and what it is trying to achieve, as well as the role marketing can play in that.

The primary objective has been putting a 10-part marketing strategy in place which will support the business’s growth ambitions.

Part of the job has been building the brand “inside and out”, ensuring everyone that interacts with the brand has a real say in what they think the brand should be.

Other objectives include putting data and insight at the heart of everything the brand does, as well as putting a high-performance marketing team in place and a new target operating model.

She says that the objectives of the role have been similar to her previous role at Openwork, involving coming in to do a transformation project.

‘Mutuality with edge’

However, the key difference to Claire’s previous roles is that Wesleyan is a mutual.

“As a mutual we’re quite special. We have no shareholders so can absolutely stay true to the needs of members and customers.

“Delivering member value is the top priority as a mutual. To really cement that earlier this year we launched a pilot of a membership programme. You get tangible benefits for being a member, such as a National Trust or Gousto subscription.”

The company’s strapline is “we are all about you”. Its branding aims to get across the goal of “creating brighter financial futures for professionals who shape the world we live in” – namely the doctors, teachers and dentists that it serves.

“Our brand is shaped around those people. We try to really share the values that these professionals have.”

Wesleyan aims to be a “lifelong partner” for these professionals, with a focus on the long term – an image aided by the fact the company has been around 180 years.

While the pitch is focused on being brilliant to do business with, Wesleyan aims to come across as a “mutual with edge”, with a drive to achieve the best results for members.

Specialised channels

Due to the nature of the product range, mass market TV advertising isn’t the right channel, “as much as I’d love to be in the Coronation Street slot,” Claire quips.

“We use a lot of digital channels because you can be much more targeted, especially on social media. The professionals we focus on are really busy people; we approach them through always-on media rather than through TV ads.”

Wesleyan also connects with professionals through dedicated publications and organisations, such as written press, as well as big partners and affiliates such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology. A lot of communications go through the financial advisors themselves, as they are the custodians of the relationships.

Content is a major focus of the company’s marketing efforts. One example is the Next Step programme, which won ‘Best Innovation in the Customer Journey’ in the Financial Services Forum’s Marketing Innovation Awards earlier this year. The hub features educational content and case studies for graduating professionals.

“The programme is a keystone in the support we offer to medics and professionals at the start of their careers,” says Claire.

The website also features other types of content such as in-depth technical guidance from experts in the form of written articles, podcasts and webinars.

“Generally our approach is very strong – content is king,” says Claire. “Unless you have the right content, unless you know what your customers want you to talk about, you can’t have a strong content strategy.”

Content is informed by feedback from financial advisors, a strong data insight team and a members’ advisory committee who offer insight into what professionals are talking about.

“We try to be instructive to help in people’s careers, and try to be really insight-led in the material we provide. In this macro environment, everyone’s customers are facing unprecedented challenges.”

The fund managers also provide content, with a member of the investment team who produces these insights in the most appropriate format.

“My team take that investment content and put it into the right language to hit the audience depending on the channel.”

A horizontal approach to customer centricity

Marketing sits within the distribution team within Wesleyan, with Claire herself sitting on the distribution leadership team.

“I work hand in glove with the channel heads. We’re all very much part of the same team and constantly making sure we’re aligned in achieving the same goals.”

The marketing team has been undergoing a major restructure to get the right roles in place and the right people into those roles. Claire identified some skills gaps, adding the new role of “Head of Customer Centricity”.

“It’s small in terms of direct reporting but a big matrix role in the roles it interfaces with.”

The role will aim to create a true customer culture within the organisation, looking at all pain points and areas of potential improvement, as well as defining the right metrics.

“It’s easy to say but few companies in financial services have managed to do this well.”

A cross-disciplinary customer committee, bringing together senior leaders who can affect change, has been in place for several months and has already shown a “step change”.

Plans for the next year include continuing to develop the business in line with its strategic drivers – continuing to develop the brand position of “mutuality with edge”.

“We’re articulating why we’re a mutual but driving real member value.”

Wesleyan’s 10-point marketing strategy

We will be customer centric and innovative. Driven by data, shaped by insight, focused on delivery. We will be delighted by success – our own and that of everyone around us.

  1. Data driven and insight led: To build an effective and fully aligned marketing strategy we need an extensive, agile, well sourced and action-oriented approach to data and insight.
  2. Develop value propositions to support customer needs: We will shape and manage an integrated range of value propositions designed to support client needs within a lifetime relationship.
  3. A refreshed brand built inside and out: A strong brand is critical in achieving our corporate and commercial goals. We will build on our strength in mutuality to ensure that we our brand is truly differentiated and relevant to our chosen professions.
  4. Build customer centricity throughout the company: We will truly place the customer at the heart of all we do – by shaping our organisation around customer centricity. We will drive business and cultural growth through a clearly defined customer strategy and programme that sets the standards, motivates and equips the organisation to cultivate a customer-centric culture and improve customer experience.
  5. Planned marketing programmes – integrated, aligned and effective: To drive an optimised and strategic programme of marketing and communications activities.
  6. Build demand – customer acquisition: We will build a customer acquisition model and approach that is aligned in ambition and scope to our commercial and corporate goals.
  7. Content is (still) king: Communications (content) has a vital role to play in supporting the growth strategy by creating a reputational context that delivers benefit for customers and the business.
  8. Refresh and align our approach to digital marketing: A cohesive, integrated and effective digital marketing strategy, building on the strength of our successful digital activity to date.
  9. Leverage marketing automation in support of performance: To move from a ‘leaky bucket’ to a high-performance programmatic approach to the delivery of marketing qualified leads.
  10. A high performing team: We want the marketing team to be a best in class marketing team where everyone works in active collaboration with partners inside and outside of the department.


Previous article

Al Rayan Bank Head of Marketing: “Partnership is the essence of Islamic banking”

Next article

IPA: Businesses must maintain marketing budgets during the 2022 downturn

Get access to valuable thought leadership from the financial services marketing industry

Keep up-to-date with current trends and changes across marketing and financial services is vital in this fast-moving business environment.