Qtrade consolidates its assignment with King Ursa

The Toronto-based agency will handle creative and media as the digital investment platform increases its digital spending.
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Toronto-based full-service agency King Ursa has been named AOR for online brokerage Qtrade.

With approximately $100 billion in assets, Qtrade Direct Investing, is one of Canada’s largest independent wealth management firms. It is owned and operated by Aviso Wealth, which itself was created in 2018 by a partnership through Desjardins, CUMIS and the five provincial credit union centrals, representing 300 credit unions across Canada.

Selected following a competitive RFP run by Reynolds & Fishe, King Ursa will manage both media and creative for the brand.

Eric Vieira, King Ursa’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, says the key to the new partnership is analytics.

“A lot of what we do at King Ursa is a data-driven, strategy-first approach to everything from media buying through to brand development and campaign development,” he says. “When we got into the initial pitch, that is where it extended into a full agency and media agency of record.”

Brian McOstrich, SVP and CMO for Aviso Wealth, says analytics is especially important for the brand right now as it has increased its spending on direct consumer acquisition in digital mediums.

“[King Ursa has] an approach that holds everyone accountable by grounding everything that they do in analytics first,” he adds. “We saw that they were bringing this audience-first approach to media, then we started to be able to see how strategy and creative, social content and creation and all the other elements of execution were rooted in the same base.”

Consolidating all of its advertising and marketing assignments under one roof, McOstrich says, is meant to “get the best
possible creative end results by having one team housed under one roof with all the right skill sets working together.” That’s especially true with Qtrade’s focus on digital, which allows it to be more responsive and course-correct as needed.

This move is part of an ongoing shift in the company’s marketing philosophy. McOstrich said when he first arrived at his position two-and-a-half years ago, Aviso’s media spend was less than $1 million, often issuing RFPs for seasonal campaigns on Qtrade on a “modest” budget. Its primary customer acquisition strategy was largely through its partnerships with credit unions, which would refer clients to Qtrade, as well as ratings in publications like Moneysense and The Globe and Mail.

McOstrich says a shift to more of a direct-to-consumer strategy over the last year has resulted in a significant increase in advertising, with 60% of new clients now coming from direct outreach and a 600% improvement in cost per acquisition. Combined with a complete brand refresh and an April repositioning based around giving DIY investors confidence, Qtrade’s brand awareness has grown 4.8% year-after-year, with total clients growing by 28% since Jan. 2020 and assets under administration growing by 40% last year.

That rebrand was handled by Toronto’s Listen Communications, which also previously handled the creative work Qtrade has done in recent years. Media was previous handled by Noise.

During the pandemic, there’s been a boom in interest for do-it-yourself investing across all age groups. McOstrich says Qtrade has identified five key target groups that stretch across ages, and it is currently developing campaigns that can speak to either end of its demographic range, but with a particular focus on the younger investors making their first foray into the space. King Ursa’s first work on expanding Qtrade’s audience is expected to debut in November.

Another goal for Qtrade is driving cost-per-acquisition down further. McOstrich says the ad budget it is still “under $3 million,” a fraction of competitors like Wealthsimple and Questrade, meaning he has to make every dollar count. Focusing on digital allows it to be very targeted – be it by platform or the kind of message it is putting out to particular target – and also allows for frequent testing to drive down costs and justify further spending.

Joanna McFarlane, King Ursa’s associate partner and VP of media and analytics, says that with Qtrade on board, King Ursa will be hiring, specially in its media department, which is on top of growth it has had over the last 18 months in response to other assignments with the likes of Moosehead, Timberland and Maple Lodge Farms.