In 2020, Hightower Advisors replaced its original branding and tagline, “Hightower … an unobstructed view,” which sought to attract wirehouse financial advisors and emphasized that the firm’s advisors are fiduciaries.
Instead, Hightower’s rebranding and tagline — well-th. rebalanced. — expands the definition of wealth to all aspects of one’s life.
“What makes you feel rich inside may not be just money,” Hightower’s chief marketing officer, Meghan McCartan, says in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
In the interview, McCartan explains that the rebranded tagline, a conversation-starter with prospects and clients, indicates that Hightower is not strictly about investments.
That means more opportunities for advisors to explore multiple aspects of a client’s life, especially concerning physical and mental health.
“It’s the whole picture of what makes you feel complete inside,” says McCartan, who has more than two decades of industry marketing experience. This includes a stint as director of marketing at MetLife Financial Services and running her own consultancy for 14 years.
Comparing financial advisor marketing today to that of 10 or 20 years ago, she notes that clients “want to know who [advisors] are as a person.”
Hightower’s rebranding has been such a hit, McCartan says, that even the financial advisors who were initially slow to warm to it now include the tagline in their blogs and “have made it a part of their mantra.”
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed McCartan, who was speaking by phone from her base in Guilford, Connecticut. Here are excerpts from our interview.
THINKADVISOR: What does Hightower’s rebranding and tagline, “well-th. rebalanced.,” mean?
In our view, wealth is more than money and investments. It’s the whole picture of what makes you feel complete inside.
And what makes you feel rich inside may not be just money.
How does it contrast with the branding it replaced?
The old tagline was “Hightower … an unobstructed view.” That alluded to advisors being able to have conflict-free investments.
When Hightower started, it was [targeting] advisors leaving the wirehouses, where they were forced to sell certain products and weren’t able to act as fiduciaries — [that is], in the best interest of their clients.
When they came to Hightower, they were able to do what’s right for clients as a fiduciary. Hightower [focuses on] an entire financial plan.
As the firm evolved, we were less about simply investments and moved to the wealth concept: That’s more than just investments but holistic health and the entire picture of everything that goes into making you wealthy.
How does “well-th. rebalanced.” motivate advisors?
It opens the door to conversations that are more than just about investments. The first step is why we spell it that way.
Then it’s about that your financial health definitely contributes to your mental health and your overall health.
How do these pieces work together? Where do we need to focus to get you on track for your goals?
Your goals may not simply be a number in a retirement account.
Does the “well-th. rebalanced.” branding resonate with clients who aren’t wealthy financially?
That’s what’s kind of cool: It opens the door to thinking about your whole life and how many different pieces are part of it.
For example, it opens up conversations about mental health. We have a series in which we’re talking with a number of therapists, psychologists and medical providers.
It’s about how do you think about your money? What are your money hang-ups?
The more you know, the more comfortable you feel with where you are with your financial plan and your money.
What’s the rebranding’s key benefit to advisors?
Opening more doors means more opportunities for referrals because there’s a broader basis of the conversation.
So, they’re expanding their services. That means, for example, a referral who doesn’t want to just focus on investments can also talk about different things with the advisor, who can discuss a number of other areas.
How did Hightower come up with this specific branding?
We had a series of focus groups — including advisors and home office people. We worked with an agency. It was a group project.
One impetus to rebrand at that time was that Bob Oros had come in as CEO, and he loves marketing and branding.
He had a vision for this. He didn’t come up with the concept, but he was completely behind it.
What was the advisors’ reaction?
The color we chose [to highlight the logo] was orange, and a lot of advisors didn’t like it. They told me in no uncertain terms how they felt about orange.
So people were a little unsure of it at first.
We really tried to make them take it to heart, though. Those that were against it at the beginning are now sending out their blogs with that tagline and have made it part of their mantra.
The advisors are embracing the concept of wealth and health a lot more. Over time, we found that conversations became more than just about investments. They have a broader scope than a simple straight line of just investing.
And we provide resources, like articles about what else makes you wealthy in terms of mental health, not just money.
When did you start the rebranding rollout?
Just before the pandemic. When everyone was working at home, advisors weren’t just having meetings [online] about investing. They were asking clients, “How are you feeling?”
People were open to connections, and they had physical and mental health on their minds.
But they were also talking about things like gardening, which would have never ordinarily been the case with most advisor-client relationships. But people were trying to connect.
So as conversations became more open and comprehensive, advisors were able to tap into more areas, and, “well-th. rebalanced.” opened the door to do that.
What does financial advisory marketing require today that it didn’t 10 or 20 years ago?
There’s a lot more based around personality; it requires you to be more genuine. Clients want to know who you are as a person. They don’t just want to see your name on your website. They want to know what worries you, for instance.
Today, there’s a lot more focus on longer-term wide-ranging connections.
You have to be more open. You need to have those broad-ranging conversations in a way that feels organic and genuine.