Meghan McCartan has stepped into her new role at Hightower as managing director and head of marketing, reporting to Chief Growth Officer Scott Holsopple. McCartan said she has plans to continue to focus the marketing department on advisor growth, which currently accounts for about 75% of her team’s efforts, and collaborate more with Hightower’s advisor engagement team, which helps advisors leverage the tools and resources the firm offers.
Hightower’s former chief marketing officer, Abby Salameh, stepped down in late February after two years with the firm. McCartan has taken over Salameh’s responsibilities. The firm has also hired Kirsten Ly, previously vice president of marketing at Skience, as executive director of advisor growth marketing.
McCartan, who was one of WealthManagement.com’s Ten to Watch in 2020, led the firm’s Outsourced CMO initiative launched in late 2019, which was part of Hightower’s strategic shift made a couple years ago to sharpen the focus on providing the firm’s advisors with the marketing strategies and collatoral to bring in new clients.
From the launch of the program in the fourth quarter of 2019 through the third quarter 2020, Hightower businesses that used the OCMO services saw their net new assets grow at nearly one and half times faster than groups that did not.
Over the last year, she’s been listening to Hightower advisors tell the story of their firms, and helping them weave those stories into content that’s easy for clients to share. For example, Hightower recently did a webinar and a whitepaper around planning for college in the COVID-19 environment.
“If you've got a junior in high school going through this process, there's every likelihood that you have 10 friends with juniors in high school going through this process,” McCartan said. “A really easy thing for an advisor to share with some clients and say, ‘Feel free to invite somebody else.’ It's not a hard ask. It's not a hard sell. So those are the kinds of resources that we're really working on providing as we round up this content library.”
The firm’s doing two webinars a month that advisors can invite clients and prospects to, that include a whole campaign around it with invitations and social media follow-up. The firm is also doing one lead-gen campaign per month around a particular topic, such as socially responsible investing and women’s financial conversations.
Hightower also has a corporate podcast series that can be shared with clients, if an advisor doesn’t want to host one of their own, and the firm also launched its own digital magazine, “The Well-th Report,” with written content that can be shared with clients.
McCartan also continues to get more advisors on Hightower’s Engage platform, its customized digital marketing program, powered by Snappy Kraken, launched in April 2020. Snappy Kraken provides to Hightower advisors curated digital marketing materials such as blog posts, email newsletters, guidebooks, infographics, videos and social posts. Advisors can choose content that fits their clientele or a segment of it based on generation, income, profession and stage of life.
In the last year and a half, Hightower’s marketing team has grown from four to 18 employees, and now 75% of the department is focused on advisor marketing and advisor growth marketing. The remaining 25% is focused on mergers and acquisitions, important to the broader Hightower strategy. So far this year, Hightower has done three deals.
In the past, the marketing and advisor engagement teams were more siloed within the company, but McCartan hopes to change that. She’s working more closely with the advisor engagement team, which helps Hightower’s advisor teams understand more fully what the firm offers and what services would be best for their business.