3rd December 2020

“How we created the friendly face of financial services” In conversation with Carl Widger, Managing Director of Metis Ireland

What special ingredient does it take for a brand to become loved? To find out, Laura has been speaking to some of our most admired brands. And this time it’s the turn of Carl Widger, Managing Director of Metis Ireland, a man on a mission to create Ireland’s leading financial planning brand.

Tell me about your brand and why people love it.

“When we started in 2014, we wanted to do things differently – we didn’t want to be like any of the private banking, or big wealth management companies in Ireland at that time. So we tried to make the brand friendly and fun – which isn’t always easy in financial services. We wanted people to feel like they were dealing with real people who had a real sense of what they wanted out of their lives. For us, it’s all about three words: goals, dreams and aspirations.”

What 3 words best describe your brand?

“World-class, inspirational, innovative.”

How do you think you can evidence that a brand is loved?

“A lot of that comes down to the culture of the business, which then obviously comes down to the people within the business. If you have a very clear strategy and goals and everyone is pointing in the right direction, then you can create a vibrant and ambitious culture, which people can buy into liking and being associated with your brand. We’ve been very successful at attracting high performers to our business and our client referral rate is absolutely massive. So we must be doing something right!”

What has helped your brand grow?

“We wanted to be very different from any of the corporate/wealth management offerings and be very financial planning led. And by that, I mean that every one of our clients has their own personal Metis life plan. We’ve also associated with other brands where we know our clients and prospective clients would be doing business – and we’ve always invested heavily in marketing.”

How will you grow your brand in the future?

“We’ve got a really good reputation within the profession in Ireland. One of the things we have to focus on now is brand awareness in terms of the general public. We’re always being innovative. And that’s something that can’t ever stop.”

“We’ve always had a fairly big marketing spend, certainly compared to any other start-ups that I’ve spoken to. I think it’s been the very best money that we’ve spent.”

What would you tell yourself if you were starting the business today?

“Like any start-up back in 2014, there are probably many things, that if we look back now, are a little bit cringeworthy. But while we did take risks, I would take more risks and not wait to do so. And don’t look for perfectionism in anything. As Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn said, ‘If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late’. There were also times in the early stages where we had to pause marketing spend due to cashflow pressure. I think that’s something that we probably shouldn’t have done. Putting your resources into marketing is really a must for any start-up – to try and get awareness and to get clients in.”

How can we make financial service brands more well-loved?

“For me, that one is easy. It’s to make sure that we make all of our client interactions much more engaging, and make sure that we try not to use technical jargon where possible. Because the financial services industry is terrible for making clients feel a little bit inadequate. So that’s why we’ve tried to create a friendly brand that’s easy to understand. If we can break down those barriers and make sure that the clients are a lot more engaged, I think that will certainly help all of us.”

What’s your favourite app or tech right now?

“I love the Revolute banking app, it’s absolutely brilliant. Talk about transforming financial services! I also love Audible because it allows me to listen to lots of different types of content. And the third one is Slack. We use it at Metis and it’s absolutely brilliant for our team to engage with each other. You can set up various channels so it cuts out a lot of cc’s and emails and that kind of stuff. Slack for any small to medium type business I think is amazing.”

What’s your best business book/podcast recommendation?

“I’d recommend High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. I also love the podcast, Don’t Tell Me the Score, hosted by Simon Mundie. It’s a BBC podcast with people from the world of sport – but it relates to the world and business as well. Really, really interesting stuff.”

If you enjoyed reading this, download our new guide, 7 Ways to Make your Marketing Unstoppable and discover more fascinating insights, direct from some of our best-loved brands. To get a hard copy just send us your details here.