Ian Ewart, Head of Products, Services & Marketing, Coutts

Ian is also a member of the RBS Group Communications & Marketing Board and a Director of Adam & Company

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman



Tom Holmes talks to Ian Ewart, Head of Products, Services & Marketing at Coutts and a member of the Wealth Division's Executive Committee. 

Ian is also a member of the RBS Group Communications & Marketing Board and a Director of Adam & Company.

His career spans more than 25 years, during which time he has gained extensive experience in business development, strategy and marketing in international private banking and asset management.

Having been educated in the UK, USA and France, Ian is bi-lingual in French and of Swiss and British nationalities. He is particularly focused on client experience in financial services and the impact of regulation and its comparative application across jurisdictions.

Ian is a Fellow of the Marketing Academy.


Creativebrief: Your career has spanned a number of senior marketing positions, what have been the high points?

Ian Ewart: I believe the ability to make a difference has always been my central driver and the focus of my attention. I have enjoyed a number of M&A events in my career and there is no doubt that this process provides opportunities for marketing to make a difference.

The high point of my career is being here at Coutts; the experiential opportunities of the brand, driven as they are by word of mouth, are fabulous and the direct engagement with clients, who explicitly see themselves as having a very real stake in our brand, is a rare opportunity and a privilege for the extension of our affinity engagement.

Creativebrief: What key attributes must a CMO have to run a world leading brand successfully in this day and age?

Ian Ewart: Firstly, a helpful and ‘can do’ attitude – the CMO must be business champion, accelerating and amplifying the CEO agenda.

You need to be able to get stuff done and deliver projects, meet deadlines, and show how your marketing adds value to the whole company.

Whether you sell products, services or services to other companies, you must understand the impact you can have to improve the return on investment (ROI) from marketing and marketing communications efforts.

Both strategic and tactical thinking are required; setting realistic goals to determining the right marketing strategies and marcom tactics for meeting those goals.

The CMO must have an intimate knowledge of:

  • Advertising 
  • Direct marketing & direct mail 
  • Events and trade shows 
  • Inquiry handling 
  • Lead generation 
  • Online marketing 
  • Outsourcing marketing 
  • Public relations 
  • Relationship marketing 
  • Sales lead management

Marketing operations implies you master:

  • Marketing objectives 
  • Define marketing plans 
  • Track marketing budgets 
  • Streamline and automate marketing workflows 
  • Control marketing assets and improve reuse 
  • Manage brands

Key to success is stakeholder management and the ability to manage suppliers – take and give a detailed brief:

  • Recommend a short list of companies to suit your needs 
  • Write the RFP 
  • Negotiate favourable agreements 
  • Manage the setup and implementation 
  • Get better results from your existing partner
  • Manage fulfilment and delivery
  • Events, conferences and experiential delivery

Creativebrief: Along the way, have there been individual marketers who particularly impressed and inspired you?

Ian Ewart:  I think the most inspirational person has been Graeme Robertson at Ogilvy; his professional dedication and his tireless pursuit of client service really brings to life the idea of marketing in action.

I think Martin Gilbert during his time at Lloyds Banking Group set a new standard for Retail financial services and he continues to make an impact at Virgin Media.

Simon Gulliford has been an important trail blazer in the intellectual positioning of marketing’s contribution and has continued to challenge and evolve the function’s contribution in a variety of firms.

Creativebrief: What are the main challenges for your sector/category over the next 12 months?

Ian Ewart: We believe the change to the regulatory environment in the UK and the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) rules will have considerable implications into 2014 and beyond. Internationally, while Hong Kong and Singapore have not adopted RDR language, there is a case to be made that similar disciplines and regulations are being introduced in everything but name. We have also seen a move towards consolidation. Given the industry is still in the process of trying to repair much of the trust in banks, the industry is vulnerable to newcomers or those who decide they have the tools to reinvent themselves as a wealth manager.

Creativebrief: Can you give me some examples of recent campaigns you are particularly proud of?

Ian Ewart: In December 2013, we launched Crowning Glory by Coutts – an initiative joining forces with leading designers, Stella McCartney and RAKE, to produce a range of exclusive headscarves to be donated to chemotherapy patients at King’s College Hospital, London over the course of the next 12 months.

I believe as a firm we are always celebrating the achievements of others in our campaigns rather than talking about ourselves – we know this is what appeals to our clients – they are all exceptional individuals and our role is to flex our approach according to their needs and for me this needs to show in our advertising.

Creativebrief: You have also been spearheading a number of creative and charitable initiatives at Coutts, can you tell me about the results?

Ian Ewart: We have had a number of creative and charitable initiates, of particular note are:

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 – we transformed the 24m window at Coutts on the Strand into a walled garden in celebration of Coutts inaugural – and award winning – garden which was designed and created by Darren Hawkes in association with SeeAbility at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013. The display allowed visitors to enter the building through a wrought iron gate, and a cutaway window drew the eye to a seating area in reception with topiary trees and benches. Above their heads, a large screen playing a short film showcasing the Coutts Skyline Garden – the roof terrace at 440 Strand, which houses over 9,000 plants in 350 metres of planters, and information about eye care charity, SeeAbility, and sits to the side of the floral display.

Coutts Skyline Garden – In September 2012, we launched the Coutts Skyline Garden which consisted of over 9,000 organic plants including vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers growing on the roof terrace of our headquarters in central London – 440 Strand. The living and breathing vegetable garden formed of over 400 metres of planters, made by offenders at HMP High Down. This initiative is just one of many that The Clink Charity runs to provide offenders with skills and qualifications to help them on release. All of the produce in the Coutts Skyline Garden is used daily by Executive Chef Peter Fiori in the kitchen serving guests.

Creativebrief: And successful sponsorship?

Ian Ewart:  We are proud to celebrate the innovation and expertise of the design industry by sponsoring world class exhibitions and festivals.

The London Design Festival is an annual event which celebrates and promotes London as the design capital of the world. The festival was conceived by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans, and builds on London’s existing design activity. Their concept was to create an annual event that would promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver an unmissable celebration of design.

We have supported the London Design Festival since 2011 and sponsor The Global Design Forum, a one-day event that brings together an alliance of design luminaries, organisations and talents to debate the issues and pressure points that are really affecting the design industry. We are also sponsors of The London Design Medal, one of British design’s most coveted accolades, awarded each year by the London Design Festival to an individual who has made an immense contribution to design and London.

In 2013, we were delighted to sponsor the Walpole Awards for Excellence for the third consecutive year. Our relationship with Walpole demonstrates our commitment to the promotion of British excellence in UK and internationally. The Awards are the highlight of the luxury industry calendar honouring individuals and companies for their work in the sector both in Britain and internationally and celebrate outstanding achievements in design, craftsmanship, business and culture.

The Walpole membership provides a community to drive business development in both the UK and export luxury markets. It was formed in 1990 by top tier British companies including Coutts, British Airways, Chewton Glen, DAKS Simpson, the Financial Times, The Savoy Group and William Grant & Sons.

Creativebrief: What are your marketing goals for 2014?

Ian Ewart: To create noticeable activity which reinforces our clear positioning. As a bank and wealth manager, we’re not for everyone – we are definite about the clients we want to work with and always ensure that our marketing aligns with our positioning.

Creativebrief: What does the Coutts brand stand for?

Ian Ewart: Coutts is a magical mix of traditional values and a contemporary approach – our firm is all about our people providing exceptional service.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Ian Ewart: Media will move us closer to clients because there are simply more places where we can appear, a greater number of creative tactics we can use, and a much greater sense of engagement. The continued change in media, particularly online and in social, is positive for all strong brands – for weaker brands it is much more of a threat towards presence.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ agency approach or specialist agencies by individual discipline?

Ian Ewart:  I’m certainly choosing specialists, and even individuals. With an ageing population of creative talent I often find people in my own personal network who’ll produce stunning creative ideas, who take the time to get close to the business and who just want to produce strong work rather than build their businesses.

Creativebrief: When choosing agencies were you ever influenced by awards?

Ian Ewart: Generally no.

Creativebrief: What challenges do you face, managing day-to-day agency relationships?

Ian Ewart: I am lucky to have an unusual team, many of whom have worked in the agency world which means they expect to collaborate with our agencies, and enjoy that part of their roles – knowing that I think we avoid many pitfalls, and also by understanding how agencies work we are able to get the most from our partnerships.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Ian Ewart: Three/four years

Creativebrief: How do you monitor and stay-in-touch with the agency market to ensure you work with the best?

Ian Ewart: Personal networks for me and my team.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Ian Ewart: I think we often know potential partners too well for pitching – we’ll usually try a new agency with a live project and then develop a relationship.

Creativebrief: Would you ever consider awarding an agency business without a pitch? What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Ian Ewart: Creativity and understanding will always appeal to me. The best agencies I’ve known have really understood my business, such as the regulatory challenges I’m concerned with now – and had their teams thinking about those issues every day – the best ideas always come from that proximity.