TD Canada Trust taking client focus

The newly formed TD Canada Trust has an opportunity to raise the bar on customer service in the Canadian retail banking industry if it can live up to Canada Trust's envied position as a first-class customer service provider, say financial industry...

The newly formed TD Canada Trust has an opportunity to raise the bar on customer service in the Canadian retail banking industry if it can live up to Canada Trust’s envied position as a first-class customer service provider, say financial industry analysts.

But if the organization formed in the wake of the merger of the TD Bank and Canada Trust fails to stick to its marketing promises, the floodgates could be opened to competitors looking to cash in on Canadians’ love-hate relationship with their banks.

Since the merger of the two financial institutions was approved by the federal government late last month, retail customers have been promised that the merged organization will maintain CT’s high service standards, with the entire branch network adopting extended opening hours.

To ensure its message is consistent, TD Canada Trust has named former Canada Trust executive vice-president of marketing, Chris Armstrong, to lead the marketing charge for the whole organization. The new bank’s retail operations will be headed by former CT CEO Ed Clark.

The appointments signal TD’s commitment to maintaining the customer service positioning that Canada Trust has developed, says Bill Currie, senior manager in Deloitte & Touche’s competitive strategy group.

‘It’s certainly been a formula that’s proven successful for Canada Trust in getting market share,’ Currie says. ‘TD’s been a very good retail bank, but in the last couple of years they’ve been very aggressive in taking costs out of their branch system.’

With the merger, however, parent company TD Financial Group is realigning into three functional ‘silos’, says Tom Hill, associate vice-president of national advertising for TD Canada Trust. Hill will not say what the silos are, but a TD spokesperson confirms the organization will break down into a retail banking group under TD Canada Trust, a commercial unit under TD Commercial Banking, and wealth management unit under the Corporate Investment Bank (which includes TD Securities) and TD Waterhouse.

Currie says banks typically divide their organizations along product lines, such as mortgages and insurance, but a structure based on customer segments should give TD Canada Trust an edge over its competitors. The new set-up will also allow the bank to carry forward Canada Trust’s legacy of high-touch customer service, while maintaining TD’s strengths on the investment side, he says.

‘The commercial guys have a different customer segment. They have a different focus. Their customers have a different set of requirements, and demand different stuff,’ says Currie. ‘There’s not a lot of value in integrating that with the retail customer base.’

Aside from service, which will be a big bonus to TD customers, Canada Trust’s customers can look forward to an improved product selection, says Charles Stuart, senior vice-president with Ernst & Young.

If TD Canada Trust is successful in building a service-based retail operation, both Stuart and Currie say other banks will move in the same direction, and an industry-wide service improvement could result.

If they fail, however, other players will be vying for Canada Trust’s position as an alternative to the big banks.

‘When you buy a trust company, you can’t assume you’ve bought the staff, you cannot assume you’ve bought the customers. You must continue to earn that,’ says Professor Allan Middleton of York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto. If the merged company doesn’t keep up the Canada Trust level of service, there are other competitors to which customers will migrate, he says.

‘In my mind, (TD Canada Trust) is extremely exposed and we’ll go after them aggressively because of our platform of being relationship-based and customer focused,’ says Brent Cuthbertson, vice-president of marketing at Richmond Savings, the B.C.-based credit union known throughout Canada for its award-winning ‘Humungous Bank’ ad campaign.

‘We’ll obviously be picking up on this as it relates to our future advertising and become a bit more aggressive in trying to coax a Canada Trust customer to give Richmond Savings a try,’ Cuthbertson says.

Professor Middleton, meanwhile, gives the new customer-service marketing focus a 50-50 chance of survival. ‘One of the realities of any kind of merger or acquisition,’ he points out, ‘is that what goes first is the culture of the acquired.’

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.