Scotiabank uses art to reach small businesses

"Path to Impact" aims to replicate experiences of entrepreneurs, specifically targeting women and physicians.


With an outdoor art installation, Scotiabank is trying to gain favour with female-led small businesses and physicians.

“Path to Impact,” which runs until Oct. 25 in downtown Toronto during Small Business Week, highlights the journey small business owners take when building their businesses, thematically running the spectrum from idea, to roadblocks, self-doubt, to impact. The installation includes colourful spheres with statistics detailing, for example, the difference in the amount of startup funding to goes to men and women, or that nearly two-thirds of doctors worry about unexpected expenses. There’s an archway dedicated to who’s influenced a businesses’ launch, and a “doubt and isolation” cylinder with audio from imaginary naysayers to convey how entrepreneurs are driven to question their judgement.

Jason Charlebois, SVP of small business for Scotiabank, acknowledges that while the bank services businesses across industries, it’s particular focus here is on women-led business and physicians. The former is underpinned by the Scotiabank Women Initiative, and the latter by its MD Financial Management partnership.

Doubt-isolation-scotiabankAcquired in 2018, MD operates as a distinct, stand-alone brand within the Scotia Wealth Management division. In spring of this year, Scotiabank unveiled its Scotiabank Healthcare+ Physician Banking Program, with services aimed at multi-career-level doctors, and Charlebois adds the bank has other products aimed at practitioners like dentists and vets.

Small business clients have been a focus for financial institutions in Canada recently, but several have also launched their own products tailor-made for physicians: in March, competitor CIBC announced its all-encompassing banking offer for physicians, while introducing a new campaign aimed at entrepreneurs. TD Bank, meanwhile, launched its Wealth Management for Health Care Practitioners in December.

Charlebois says the competitive landscape is very fulsome and there are direct competitors from The Big Five, as well as regional players. “For us, this approach to representing our value proposition is not targeted at any one competitor, but business owners themselves,” he says.

Charlebois tells strategy that business owners have a lot of choice in terms of where they seek help, support and advice, and that “Path to Impact” is an example of how the brand can be different and demonstrate relevance, “to earn the right of trust for SBOs.”

“We are always looking to do things that are unique and special,” Charlebois says. He says the brand wanted to do things that conveyed the perspective of its customers, represented in a way that was relevant, simple and impactful.

This the first installation of its type the brand has done for Small Business Week, and that it’s designed in such a way that it can be set up in different venues. This concept is not a “one and done,” Charlebois says, and will be keeping the small business startup conversation alive in other ways as well.