On Wednesday, May 1 we were at Brand Innovators Future of Marketing & Digital Innovation BISummit hosted by VML at WPP’s Sea Containers HQ.

Louisa Nicholls, Managing Director of Digital, Experience, Design, Product & Strategy at Coutts, spoke with Dom Blacklock, our Vice President of International Digital Media on ‘Unlocking the Potential of Digital in Private Banking.’

It was an insightful conversation discussing how investment banking uses digital innovation and engagement to drive growth from the perspective of a luxury, heritage brand.

Louisa described how Coutts is one of the oldest private banks in the world, established in 1692, and is one of the “original girl power brands”, as in the late 1800s the founder’s granddaughter Angela Burdett-Coutts was a philanthropist. She helped found the RSPCA and NSPCC, supporting vulnerable children and women.It is the Queen’s Bank, part of NatWest group, and still supports charities, with wealth management and private banking services.

Its journey to sustainability includes the ‘magic of Coutts roof garden’, which is a sustainable goldmine of delicious produce, including honey from their own bees.

Louisa explained how high street brands are going digital-first but, at Coutts, customers sit with their customer private banking wealth manager.

They use “digital as a channel of choice when their customers need it, but get out of their way when they don’t.”

She acknowledged Coutts uses data to understand where their customers are on their site or apps and this information goes to the customer’s wealth manager, so when the customer is next back in the bank face-to-face, they can talk through the user experience and their banking needs.

As a luxury brand, they look at fellow luxury brand marketing activity, for example LVMH. Louisa expressed admiration for Barbour ‘s collaboration with Ganni; partnering a British heritage brand with a young Scandi brand.

Louisa argued that Gen Z’s love heritage brands, and heritage shouldn’t alienate the core market.

Dom asked, “When it comes to the potential of digital – AI and crypto currency – how are you future facing?”

Louisa explained Coutts partners with agencies that bring them thought leadership, and they focus on basics, such as great design and user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) as she explained, “these people are cash rich and time poor.”

She argued that disruptors like Uber and Monzo re-benchmark the expectations.

She remarked, “You cannot stand still. Plans are out of date within 18 months. Roll with it; everyone is fickle, they’ll go with things that make their lives easier.”

Dom asked, “How do you decide where to invest?

Louisa explained, “Marketing is lead generation – make it sticky so people want to spend time with your brand and are interested. Be really clear around criteria. We do not really have any above the line marketing as we are so niche.”

At the conclusion of their discussion, Dom asked Louisa what keeps her up at night. Louisa responded, “The pace of innovation. We need to pivot at pace but as a small but heritage brand, Coutts can be nimble.

Attendees from Active UK were Elkie Brooks, Snr Marketing Manager, Perry Brown, Senior Media Executive, and Josh Gormley, Media Manager Broadcast & Digital.

Brand Innovators is a global community of more than 50,000 senior brand marketers from Fortune 500 and other leading global brands, making it the largest professional network of its kind.