Quest for Brand Relevance New and Old

 

March 8th, 2017 – Catherine Hayes, the Executive Director of the Wharton Future of Advertising program is on the lovely campus of the University of Pennsylvania at the Wharton School with Jenny Rooney.  Jenny is the editor of the Forbes CMO Network and they are interviewing Michael Collins.  He’s the managing director services delivery which is essentially the Chief Marketing Officer role at the CFA Institute.
Catherine Hayes:  Welcome Michael.
Michael Collins:  Jenny.  Catherine.  Thank you for having me.
Catherine Hayes: Jenny is wonderful to reach out to her CMO network to bring them here to us to you the audience to really bring you the latest and greatest on what’s happening in the marketing world today we’re talking about the topic that Jenny has found for us called The Quest for Relevance for brands that are new and old. It’s really important with the way that things are changing. So I think it would be great if you could start by telling us a little bit about what the C.F.A. Institute is Michael.
Michael Collins:  Well you know CFA Institute for a lot of people could be one of the best kept secrets although the organization has been around for seventy years we’re celebrating our seventieth year this year and we are the global Association of investment professionals and together we set the standard for professional excellence in credentials.  So, we’re a champion for ethical behavior in investment markets and we also serve as a respected source of knowledge and content for the global financial community.  So…
what makes up CFA Institute is we are a member driven organization which makes it very interesting from a marketing perspective.  We have one hundred forty six thousand members in over one hundred sixty countries and territories and we have one hundred forty seven member societies that are independent societys so almost as I would think about in a for profit world as a user group.  But we do we don’t own them like an independent franchisee and that’s really powerful you know for us as we think about our brand since you know being a mission driven member organization and a standard bearer you know our brand we think is our greatest asset.
Jenny Rooney:  So tell us a little bit about how you came into this role and perhaps you could share a little bit of your personal back story that led to this place any work for private companies prior.
Michael Collins:  Sure private and public companies, you know, prior to joining the Institute.  I led marketing and communications programs for a Computer Sciences Corporation a fifteen billion dollars global company J.P. Morgan was a Rockefeller a company and then the you know a number of smaller private companies in the the consistent thread you know across those as they were all in the financial services or investment management area was a focus on you know having customers help drive your agenda.
And so on to a funny story, you know when you think about networks and how your networks are important and you don’t just meet people for a moment right?  They come back to you back around to you in your career.  I worked with the Chief Meople Officer maybe a decade ago at a public company and about a year ago she reached out and said “hey we have this excellent opportunity and would you be interested” and it turned out just to be a tremendous fit.
And what was exciting to me about it was it brought together I think elements that are very difficult to find in for profit companies so we have like I mentioned before one hundred forty thousand members at any given time and we have about a quarter of a million candidates who are going through the credentialing part of our program so when you think about how we have think about we have four hundred thousand mobile customers in one hundred sixty countries and territories with these hundred forty seven member societies…like franchisees so we’ve got a nice B2C component and we also have a solid B2B component that you don’t typically find. Especially at the scale that we are at currently you normally dont see something on that scale so that was attractive to me coming in when I did.
Catherine Hayes:  Got it so we’re talking about this concept of staying relevant and continually reinventing and trying to as customer needs shift and technology opportunities shift you know how to keep a brand and a business as relevant and as fresh as possible. Can you talk a little bit about how you’re approaching that particular dilemma and how, first of all, how that would be made manifest in sort of a C.F.A. and kind of how that would play out and sort of how you’re working to attack that particular challenge.
Michael Collins:  Sure I mean, that’s a great question and also a great observation in the financial industry the investment profession, the industry changes, regulations change every day, my point is that the players change and the financial markets evolve so you have industry overall by just this danger is going to be in constant flux and so that’s tricky, right, for any organization…to keep a handle on it.  And for us it really starts with our members and we build our brand and our continued relevance around them so
Catherine Hayes:  Sensing a theme here
Michael Collins:  and I think theme here Catherine sort of lives way absolutely members members members I mean we have a big this up when I’ve been in other companies when you know when we have the same Here is where you know keep your customers from the center and keep everything else in your peripheral vision and so we do we do that here I mean at the end of the day you know the members you know stock up the members own us right I mean they’re the ones who pay the dues they bear salaries and you know they make this their institute and I think you know what I bring from the commercial world for a from the for profit world is you know
Companies lose sight of that because they’re not everybody I think you can easily connect with the mission so right because you’re so in a financial services product you’re selling a technology product you’re selling outsource consulting you know H.R. consulting I think about some of the areas I’ve worked in my career and if institution in a member or in a Nation I mean you are there because you are connected to the mission and I think that is something that was a real surprise to me in terms of the power of that like that the employees the colleagues if Institute and then of our members right we have those hundred forty thousand members of those about eight thousand of them at any given time or volunteer ing to
Catherine Hayes: Wow
Michael Collins:  how people prepped for exams to help grade the exams so I mean it’s just a community of.  I guess you call brand ambassadors that would help us shape our message in our in our continued relevance that you would normally find in the commercial business so so from a from a that the meat of it right to our curriculum and our credential continues to evolve and so there’s an example every year we undergo an extensive global survey of our members and industry practitioners and we use that to drive updates and they have switched to a curriculum so that would reflect you know new proc. This is trends methodology as you mentioned you know use of technology how is that impacting the profession various tools and you know and what are what are people in the various stages of their of their life. How do you reach them in support of them right I’m a lineal or somebody you know somebody is twenty five twenty six you need to get to them different ways if you’re of sort of your high net if you’re a private wealth advisor serving as asters are going to get them to different ways than somebody who’s fifty five is the same in terms of thinking about how we attract candidates and help them through the journey of becoming a charter Financial analyst you know analyst right so as a CFA and so that is quite interesting frankly I mean it’s it’s you know you know punishing right for by some accounts
I was about to say I’ve From what I’ve heard it’s Freddie daunting I mean maybe you can just describe it briefly what it what it what it sure what pieces you put these people throughout
and they do I mean you know when we connect them you know this community I mean a big part of what we do in our brand is around community so content that we create and connections that we create through our member app and you know. Through you know events and through various things that we do is really bring the community together and you know they share their trials and tribulations and it’s a real you know badge of honor to to complete and complete the program so I mean it’s evolved a series of three six hour tests over a thousand hours you know worth of study. It’s just you know an incredible amount of focus and you know three to four years to get through it you also need you know some years of work experience actually be granted the charter so when you actually get it it really is something that doesn’t accomplish
right really gives you a leg up
and so. Kind of back to your question about how do we stay relevant the brand I mean again it’s those members right who bring out there working every day in a profession who you know we can. And I want to help us you know build into whatever up on the on a brand promise
I love that cat and Catherine know that what I mean is that is so true we have seen that theme from our other guests as well that I mean ultimately how you evolve has start from your core course core constituencies like the people who you are serving need to be the ones who are helping to guide.
Yeah and say this they move and it’s not it’s not a question I mean we.
We posted as how does a how does an organization accompanied stay relevant but it’s really relevant to whom and and I think that’s what that’s what Michael saying is relevant to your members and making sure that you understand them so that’s the most important thing and then of course relevant in the bigger context as well but starting with what is it that they need to stay relevant and how does that drive the rest of the organization. So Michael that would you agree that that’s that sounds like a cornerstone and you mentioned that that there’s everything else is periphery What are the peripheral sorts of things that are sort of close close up toward the center that that you’re also thinking about and looking at to stay to stay relevant and current
Well you know I think so if you start with the members at the center and you know you expand out and you think in your candidates that someday will become members if they are in their charter or whatever other credentialing does ignitions part is I think is I think is really staying true to local customs and the flavor you know throughout the world so you think about it take it we don’t really talk about that we do advertising of course but we don’t really think about advertising really think about you know what’s the right solution they get out you know leveraging any number of marketing tools so.
I have to talk about it with some of our agencies that you know we’re focused on being a next chapter company so that we really just think about integration and work on talking about P.R. and social. But how do you put that together and in another hallmark for us is that we start local and go to the center versus center and out and then give it just give you a quick story so when I joined the organization just over a year ago they were just getting ready the team was just getting ready to launch a global search for a new communications agency and we ended up to selecting Ogilvy P.R..
To do that for us worldwide and what drive through us to them and vice versa besides our story in the mission and they were truly global is that they didn’t come in and say well you know we’re going to help you create this at the center well throw it out to some regional hubs and they’ll localize it and send it out. Was completely the flip side of that which is a we work with local offices in your key markets where you’re going to mark we have eleven countries where we you know we’re active in a big way and in the U.S. We have eleven centers of influence where we target high net worth investors so they understand the value of making sure there’s a charter holder on there they’re both advisory team but. But that’s how we work so if you think just to give an example if we were in India. And you were looking to put together an advertising program with P.R. with digital social projects marketing etc We start with a local society so we missed our with phone team that we start with a local society or not only local in the market but they’re working in the profession every day right and so they are they’ve been a candidate they’re now. Her There there there in the local market support.
And networking extra And so they be really become our our source for. Our truth for how we how we manifest our branded our pit. We do build that off of a global platform but we do it market by market society by society and that is the power so when you look at some of our of our advertising in imagery is example the people that are in those communications pieces are actual target holders I mean they’re real people who know a real story and I think that helps us connect with members because they see themselves in those stories.
I mean thing I mean thing what where have you taken risks you know I mean like where have you sort of dug in and tried some things just to see perhaps you know learn some things that you didn’t expect and perhaps even had to shift gears you know talk a little bit about that and I think that’s fascinating when I hear those those types of learning as well
I would say we’re risk averse.  We do take calculated risk and I think you know that is. Is that is in a program that we have that where we where we do brand activation with our with our society so if you think about.
Take take you know a large automotive manufacturing like Ford right so you know they create global programs and they’ve got to go out and sell those to the dealer networks and hope that they’ll pick up on it so in that program in addition to this our global programs that we do we have a multimillion dollar fund that we go out and work with these local societies to try different things in the local markets so we can experime 15.45