How one brand is reaching the next wave of purpose-driven millionaires

A year ago the wealth management arm of UBS decided to shake up the financial services sector with the launch of content platform Unlimited, making a play for a new generation of purpose-fuelled millionaires.

UBS Unlimited
The launch of Unlimited in Oxford in July 2016

Millionaires and billionaires are evolving. As a slew of startup founders and entrepreneurs hit the millionaire mark, the make up of the mega rich is moving much more towards profit with purpose.

At least this was the feeling at wealth management giant UBS, which decided the best way to reach this emerging cohort of millionaires was to become a content publisher.

“The more we speak to our clients and understand their motivations, it’s less about using wealth just to create more wealth,” CMO of UBS Wealth Management, Nicholas Wright, tells Marketing Week.

“It might be that they’ve done incredibly well by building up their own startup and now they want to fund another as an angel investor or they may want to go into a philanthropic angle and start giving back to society.”

The changing nature of millionaires, combined with a recognition of the emotion driven decision making that influences wealth management, convinced UBS that going forward content about data and investments was not going to cut it.

The more we speak to our clients and understand their motivations, it’s less about using wealth just to create more wealth.

Nicholas Wright, UBS

The company also recognised the power a content strategy could have to make wealth management more accessible, essential if it is to engage the world’s 20 million millionaires, 35% of whom still have their main banking relationship with a retail bank.

“I think the sense was that these slightly, crusty traditional private banks were not for me,” says Wright.

“So the move to content publishing is all linked to sales. We need to reach that new audience to keep the business healthy. That’s not communicating on rational fact around finance, it’s about talking about what matters to them and that’s purpose.”

READ MORE: Understanding the diverse tastes of the UK’s most wealthy

Developed over four months from conception to launch, Unlimited is a content platform mixing insightful current affairs and thought leadership aimed at taking UBS out of its comfort zone in the financial sector and helping it connect with potential new clients on a different level.

Launched a year ago, the site combines original content created in partnership with publishers including Vice Media, Vanity Fair and Monocle, with interviews from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Lewis Hamilton and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The editorial lens shifts every six months, with recent topics in the spotlight touching on whether wealth automatically guarantees a rich life and why time is the ultimate commodity.

Wright sums up the Unlimited positioning as using content to create unexpected connections. “The starting brief is if you can find it on Google we’re not interested. It needs to be unique and not seen before,” he explains.

“Ultimately we want to come out with something that is relevant for the business so we can pull it through and turn it into a more meaningful conversation around what you do with your investments and your wealth, but we also need something that is going to engage and catch people’s eye.”

Filling the gap

A year in Unlimited has enabled UBS to connect with an untapped audience who had never previously engaged with the brand. Aged on average between 35- to 38-years-old, the readership of Unlimited is currently 60% female.

UBS is using its engagement with this younger, more diverse audience to inform the trends that will be influencing the behaviour of its 50- to 55-year-old clients in three to five year’s time.

Wright believes Unlimited fills the vacuum of emotional engagement and keeps UBS relevant during the typically 18-month long conversion funnel that spans from someone starting to consider they need a wealth manager to signing on the dotted line.

“We’ve found there is actually quite a vacuum between capturing people’s awareness and then pulling them through that conversion funnel to actually speak to someone at UBS and ultimately become a client,” says Wright.

“What the content strategy has done, with Unlimited leading the charge, is allow us to focus more on engagement that will tease people down that funnel. That is probably the most fundamental change it’s delivered.”

Unlimited sits alongside broader awareness driving activity supporting a high profile brand relaunch 18 months ago, which includes sponsorship deals with Formula 1 and international art fair Art Basel.

Giving content a push

Over the past 12 months since launching Unlimited, UBS has learnt that having great content is not enough to really cut through.

“You need to invest in good content, but you also need a social media strategy behind it,” says Wright. “We were probably a little too bullish on ‘don’t worry we’ll invest in the quality of the content and the rest will follow’, but that hasn’t really pulled through. You need to do both.”

Committing to social media has paid off. During the past year Unlimited has attracted 1 million unique users to the online hub and engaged 5 million people via social media. Whereas originally the team assumed its thought leadership style features would work best as long-form content, they quickly realised that easily consumable video would drive the highest traffic, the majority of which comes through Facebook.

Wright admits that at first his team became “a little bit obsessed” with mapping out the perfect user journeys, before realising the strategy should allow the consumer to navigate the content as and when they want.

READ MORE: Four trends changing the definition of luxury

“That first bite is very much driven by short-form video. They will then click through to consume longer-form written content once we’ve brought them into that ecosystem,” Wright explains.

“We also find you become slightly concerned about the time stamp on a piece of content. We’re in an age where if it’s more than a week old it’s going to look dated. Not a bit. Our best performing content is from the early days. You just need to be smart enough to create the content that has some longevity and start marketing that content around what is relevant.”

Unlimited by UBS

The business as a whole has taken lessons from Unlimited on how to humanise the rest of its content. This includes changing the way its investment analysts approach writing technical white papers, so that the reader does not need a PhD to understand a report on Japanese equities.

“Unlimited has definitely been a great way to guide that harder core content creation into a way that is much more consumable now. In the industry we’ve got this sense that there’s a direct correlation between the level of wealth and people’s financial sophistication,” says Wright.

“Even if you’re very wealthy you’re still perplexed by financial gobbledegook. So it’s also started to soften that content from the pure investment elements.”

As Unlimited moves into its second year UBS sees no reason to change the strategy, even if competitors in the financial services sector plan to react with their own content platforms.

“We’re the market leader and we should be challenging and taking the industry to a new level, but we need to keep on our toes and keep creating thought provoking stuff,” Wright adds.

“I think the next natural evolution of Unlimited is how we start harnessing affinities in communities that share a point of view off the back of the content that we’re putting in front of them. The moment we can unlock that it becomes a very powerful engine.”