The Player: Marketing to the ultra-rich, and making Merrill stand out

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Patrick Corry is in wealthy company these days, marketing financial services to people who have enough money to really need them.

As the director of private-wealth-management marketing at Merrill Lynch & Co., his demographic covers households with $10 million or more in assets free for investment, a group that probably doesn't need to worry about having its nest egg in Enron stock. Mr. Corry, 38, joined Merrill's U.S. Private Client Marketing group from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, where he was exec VP-director of client services and business development.

clarity

His new job will include not just advertising, but all marketing activity for Merrill's U.S. ultra-high-net-worth private clients. The challenge will be to "bring more clarity into what the Private Wealth Management Group does," and differentiate it from Merrill's other private-client offerings.

Starting in 2000, Merrill set out to expand its clientele from the multimillionaires and corporations that had been its traditional market to build its brand among investors with more modest bankrolls. The company targeted individuals with investment assets starting at $100,000 to $250,000 and higher, while maintaining its base among ultra-high-net-worth clients through what it calls a "choice platform" with several product selections and the option of online and offline channels. Merrill has backed that strategy with ads from JWT, including a campaign that broke in mid-June, steering market-wary investors to Merrill's wealth-management services.

It's a slightly different perspective from Mr. Corry's past jobs. He joined JWT in 1999 to run the Unilever account, then added the post of senior director on the Merrill account before being named to the new business post. Before JWT, Mr. Corry worked at Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, where he oversaw PepsiCo's Frito-Lay snack brands.

understanding insights

"It's all marketing. We can overcomplicate what marketing is, but at the end of the day, it's people who understand consumer insights," he said.

Moving to the client side is not as difficult an adjustment as it would appear, Mr. Corry said. JWT approaches all accounts as integrated-marketing clients, so its relationship with Merrill went beyond shooting TV spots and deep into integrated marketing strategy, he said.

"My approach is not to provide clients with 30-second solutions. It's never been," he said.

But being on the other side of the table during meetings with his former JWT colleagues will be a new experience, he admits.

"The good news is we have an exceedingly good relationship," he said. "But it will be funny the first couple of times I have to work with them."

Fast Facts

Name: Patrick Corry

Age: 38

Now: Director of Private Wealth Management Marketing, Merrill Lynch & Co.

Challenge: To differentiate Merrill's asset-management services for ultra-wealthy clients

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