When Clients Want to be Noble like Nobel

Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, left most of his fortune to endow the Nobel Prizes. They are awarded each year on December 10th, the anniversary of Nobel’s death, in Stockholm, Sweden. Recipients are those deemed to have made the greatest impact on humankind in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics and fellowship among nations.

Like Nobel, many high-net-worth individuals are interested in using their wealth to better the world. How can financial advisors help them achieve their philanthropic goals?

Understand why clients give
In 2017, 90% of high-net-worth households gave close to $30,000 to charitable causes. And, the mission of the charities they choose motivates donors (59%) more than the tax benefits (17%) they receive.1

People like to give because giving makes them feel good, and many like to do so as a family. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it really is better to give than to receive, because giving yields a host of health benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and depression. It can truly make you happier–and lead to a longer life.2

Take a holistic, long-term approach to philanthropy
Although the end of the year is the traditional giving season, your clients should plan ahead. Discuss their giving goals throughout the year. In planning meetings, find out about the organizations they currently support, whether they want to include their family in their giving and the types of assets they want to donate. This will help you identify charities and giving platforms that match their requirements.3

Be social, and lead by example
Let clients and prospects know you understand charitable giving through social media posts that include relevant hashtags, such as #philanthropy, #charity, #philanthropicgoals and #NobelPrizeDay. Spread the word that you can help your clients who want to make a difference in the world. Share information about the charitable organizations your firm supports. It can help when you lead by example and make more meaningful connections with your clients.

1 The 2019 U.S. Trust Study of High-Net-Worth Philanthropy, conducted in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy,

2 Why Giving is Good for Your Health, Cleveland Clinic, October 28, 2020,

3 Advice for Wealth Advisers: How to Talk with Your Clients About Philanthropy, Page Snow, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, July 31, 2019.

Chart Attack

Source: Diagrams by Arthur Lockwood published in 1966. “Graph from scientific magazine showing US annual energy consumption of various energy sources: wood, hydro-electricity, gas, oil and coal. Use of third dimension to differentiate and dramatize information.”

From COVID-19 cases to the election and beyond, we’ve seen a lot of charts and graphs in the past year. And these include maps, bars, pies, dendrograms, heat, bubbles—frankly people are using everything they can think of to explain the data.

Graphs and charts are a great way to show information, but they need to make a point and they need to be trustworthy. In Data Visualization, Andy Kirk explains, “Being truthful and avoiding deception in how you portray data visually are fundamental obligations.” 

If a chart is complicated, it’s hard for people to understand it and relate to the information it contains. In successful charts you don’t always need a multitude of words, labels and numbers. Check out the visualization from Reuters showing how plastic bottles are piling up in the world. This graphic needs no numbers because the explanation and the visual tell the complete story in a compelling way.  

PowerPoint and Excel have, in a way, reduced charts to a generic and elementary form. These programs come with default chart types, typography and colors, and while helpful, they are just that—generic.

Below are some helpful tips for creating successful charts and graphs:

– Label each axis, this is simple but important

– Identify the components clearly—use a legend or some other way to describe what each color/shape/line means

– Quantify the units—is it a percentage or dollar amount or something else?

– Pay attention to geometry especially in charts that use bubble plots: circles should be measured by area, not diameter

– Always include sources

– Understand the prospective use. Is the chart part of a page in a presentation you’re giving? Or is it something your readers will keep and take the time to digest?

– Use simple typography and focus on readability

If the chart isn’t making the point you want, then perhaps you have the wrong data or need to show it in a different way.

Spread from Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte, 1990. (p. 24-25)

Do you love seeing the graphic representation of information? Here are some sources you might find interesting. 

Beautiful News Daily

Data Visualization: A handbook for data driven design by Andy Kirk 

From the renowned visual information design master, Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, as well as other books he wrote. 

Sparking Joy, Not Controversy

It’s that time of the year again. In early November, Starbucks introduced its 2020 series of holiday cups, with the enticement of a “free” collectible cup when ordering a holiday drink.

This year’s cup theme is “Carry the Merry.” Starbucks explained in a press release that “This year’s holiday design brings forward all the joyful elements of the holiday season in ribbons of Starbucks greens and a jolly red like a cozy holiday sweater.” Each of the cups has a name, Ribbon, Dot, Sparkle, and Brand Wrap.

Some may remember that previous years’ cups had their share of controversy and debate. In 2015, many felt the plain red holiday cup did not sufficiently evoke the holidays, particularly Christmas. In 2016, Starbucks featured a green holiday cup with “a mosaic of more than a hundred people, drawn in one continuous stroke” – “a symbol of unity,” according to then Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. This also drew criticism from some corners, as did the 2017 cup which had a white background and encouraged people to draw in their own colors and illustrations.

Since then, Starbucks has been playing it safe, creating cups that are decidedly holiday-spirited, but in a non-sectarian manner that uses graphics to evoke a mood. In both 2019 and 2020, “merry” is a key theme. This year, particularly, the company is focused on being a respite from everything going on, “that beacon for people, a brief moment that they can look forward to.” That’s a brand message that all can embrace!

A Campaign We Support

In honor of the 9th Giving Tuesday, we thought it might be interesting to share a little of the history behind the day.

Giving Tuesday, started in 2012 as a reaction to the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is the brainchild of Asha Curran, formerly of the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City. The YMCA, in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, envisioned a day focused on giving and generosity, whether monetarily, through volunteerism, or acts of kindness. So, what has made this “campaign” so successful?

Creating a Community
Giving was reimagined for the digital age to build a personal sense of community. Social media, websites and PR allow organizations to share real stories about the difference they make, promote charitable giving, and thank donors. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter promote Giving Tuesday, and #GivingTuesday has become instantly understood all over the world. Making giving as easy as possible through online giving platforms and payment processors has been key.

Facilitator not Recipient
Giving Tuesday succeeds because it is not a registered charity but promotes and helps others build visibility for their missions. Through comprehensive resources and tools, it provides nonprofits the means to get the word out. In 2012, more than 2,500 nonprofits participated in Giving Tuesday, with an estimated $10MM in online donations. In 2019, approximately $511MM in online donations were attributable to Giving Tuesday.

Going Global
Giving Tuesday has spread from the United States to over 70 countries and numerous organizations around the world., which became a separate independent organization in July 2019, has adapted to align with global growth, and its leadership and Board of Directors include Giving Tuesday regional directors from non-U.S. regions. also helps build community among nonprofit leaders and organizations around the world so best practices and ideas can be shared.

This year, of course, is like no other, and many nonprofits are experiencing a drop in funding at the same time need has increased. We applaud the work that does to help nonprofits reach their audiences and hope that everyone has an opportunity to give back in some way to those in need this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”–G.K. Chesterton

This sentiment above seems particularly relevant this upside-down year. At Optima Group, we are thankful for the continued trust and partnership of our clients and colleagues. We know that this Thanksgiving poses challenges in getting together with friends and family, but we hope that you have an opportunity to visit with loved ones, even if it’s by Zoom, FaceTime or another virtual platform. We are grateful that technology has enabled us to remain connected with one another, although we are hopeful that we are moving toward a time when we can meet in-person again.

Just a reminder that Optima Group will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020 and Friday, November 27, 2020. 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us Optima Group!   

Leverage Customer Personas for Better Results

Identifying customer and prospect behaviors, motivations, needs and aspirations is considered the holy grail for wealth management firm marketers.

Understanding these characteristics can have a profound effect on your ability to segment marketing, drive better engagement, create an enhanced user experience and even help steer product development. For many firms, harvesting detailed client data to inform these efforts can be extremely challenging. Fortunately, by developing a set of customer personas, many firms can significantly advance their efforts in delivering exceptional service to their customers.

Analyzing the data
The first step in developing customer personas is analyzing the data you have. Segment your clients by age, profession, geography, product consumption, investable assets, source of assets, and demographic categories. From here construct a framework for the development of distinct personas. While most of your personas should closely map to your existing client base, it’s important to develop one to two aspirational personas that represent the target audiences you hope, and can reasonably expect to attract in the future.

Filling in the gaps
The next step involves conducting internal and external interviews to gather more detailed information about your clients. You should also mine your CRM system to help you identify any key characteristics that can help you round out your personas. In addition, review investment questionnaires and other intake documents. The goal is to supplement your hard data with more personal information that speaks to goals, wants, aspirations and fears. Ultimately, you don’t need to develop personas for every client, but instead, develop archetypes that represent key characteristics of your primary target audiences.

Leveraging your personas
Once you have developed personas, begin using them to help steer your business development, branding, marketing and even product development initiatives. Personas are critical components for driving an enhanced user experience across all of your client and prospect touchpoints, and to develop targeted marketing campaigns that drive increased prospect response rates from high-potential audiences.

The World’s Largest Online Store Goes Offline

Did you get Joy Delivered this year? It came in the form of a catalog for kids’ toys you can buy from Amazon. What’s interesting about this is that the largest online store created a really great interactive print experience

First, the catalog is not actually a catalog, it is a “holiday wish book” with the message on the first page stating, “Start your adventure here.” The next page is a blank list that you can pull out of the catalog (sorry, wish book) so you and your kids can create their gift list—presumably from just Amazon. On the back of the list is a recipe for hot cocoa that looks pretty yummy!

The wish book has many pages of fun games that kids can play, like fill in the blank, stickers, and a story that parents could “snuggle up” and read to their kids. It also has pages that your kids (or you) can color, a Christmas tree maze, and a place to create your own snow globe. The genius of the holiday wish book is that it is a way for kids to interact with a printed piece, with their parents, all while picking out their holiday presents.

For a huge impersonal online store, Amazon has created a high-touch experience. Aside from the beautiful design, nice paper, and high-quality printing, the wish book offers an experience for two important audiences. The first of course being the kids, so they can pick out their holiday presents and the second being the parents who can get everything done from one catalog, from one online store, and share an experience with their kids playing games and making hot cocoa. Exactly what they promised — Joy Delivered.

Checking in with Robos

In September, financial consumer focused data firm, Hearts and Wallets, released survey results indicating that some 8% of U.S. households have invested money with robo-advisers.

While this is still a relatively small share, the penetration among millennials was significantly higher. According to the survey, nearly 20% of mass affluent millennials with investable assets between $50,000 and $500,000 are using a robo-adviser. Perhaps even more surprising is that nearly half of wealthy millennials with more than $500,000 to invest have chosen robos.

For many of these younger investors, robo-advisers may be a steppingstone to a full service advisory relationship once the complexity of the household finances warrants more sophisticated and tailored advice. However, several firms with robo platforms have begun to add new applications providing enhanced financial management and planning tools. These tools are provided for free and are typically easy to use and integrate into a client’s normal financial management practice. Among these are Fidelity’s SpireSchwab’s Schwab Plan and BOA’s Life Plan.    

It appears that robo-advisers are committed to adding functionality that provides a wider breadth of services and encourages users to deepen their “relationship” with the firm. It will be interesting to track the development of these new technologies to see if they can reach a level of sophistication sufficient to satisfy the needs of high-net-worth investors. If so, we anticipate that advisors and platforms serving this segment will begin to add “robo” to their arsenal of tools and applications.

2020 Davey Awards Winner

Optima Group is excited to announce that it is a 2020 Davey Awards Silver winner in two categories for work executed for Hightower Advisors:
• Corporate Identity – Logos
• Corporate Identity – Brand Identity

The Davey Awards competition is designed exclusively for smaller boutique agencies to allow them to compete directly with their peers. The Davey Awards are “sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals.”

Congratulations to Tracy Hubbard, our Creative Director, and her amazing team. We are honored to have been selected out of hundreds of entries for recognition and especially thank Hightower Advisors for enabling us to achieve this accomplishment. At Optima Group, we have a passion for the work we do and thrive on the challenge of taking an intangible “product” and bringing it to life for our clients and their clients.

Big Data in the Pandemic

Analytics are increasingly important for marketing, and the pandemic has made effective analytics even more vital. From everyday items to luxury goods, companies leverage analytics dashboards to decide where, when and how to market.

A prime example is Mercedes-Benz. It uses a dashboard to access 35 sources of data across 30 markets. This includes commonly used data such as media consumption habits, consumer sentiment, foot traffic, and shopping behaviors. But also factors in “of the moment” analytics on government restrictions to combat the virus and changes in local COVID-19 cases, and mortality rates. According to Natanael Sijanta, Mercedes-Benz Director of Global Marketing Communications, “Mercedes-Benz is seeking data to answer questions on customer behavior and economic activity in different regions.”

Candy maker giant, Hershey Co. is gearing up for what will be a very different holiday season. This iconic company is using analytics to understand what’s happening globally, nationally and, in the U.S., on a state level to make advertising and marketing decisions. “Hershey’s is a national advertiser, but there are state-specific implications which will impact the holiday period,” explains Hew Griffiths, Global Chief Product Officer for Universal McCann. State restrictions, local unemployment data, COVID-19 rates and other topical information could have a significant influence on what happens on a consumer level in a particular area.

Consumer products companies are not the only ones benefiting from creative data analytics solutions. SRAX, Inc. uses investor intelligence and big data to “unlock and utilize data in new powerful ways to create a new nexus of opportunity between public companies, financiers, investors and traders.” Its technology platform for investor intelligence, corporate communications and shareholder retention and acquisition, Sequire, has acquired more than 75 publicly traded companies as clients in just over a year. Using data and resources from Broadridge Financial, the platform allows companies to monitor investor behavior, access trendline information, and execute and measure retention and acquisition campaigns. It would seem to be only a matter of time before such capabilities are extended beyond the public markets. 

The wealth and investment management industries are not exempt from this trend. Firms are focusing on building out client relationship management systems and other information capture platforms to build a complete picture of client behavior and develop highly targeted sales and marketing using real time information and metrics to find out what’s working and what’s not.