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.’

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group