Monday, August 12, 2013

Burnishing the Image of Wealth Managers, 1963

Fifty years ago, stockbrokers didn't always get much respect. "My broker?" you can almost hear Mad Men's Roger Sterling ask, "You mean the guy who churns my account to pay for his yacht?"

Merrill Lynch promoted a classier image. The wire house wanted its registered reps to be seen as gentlemen and scholars.

Brooks Brothers suits provided the gent look. Weekly columns in newspapers and The New Yorker created a scholarly aura. This one calls on an English clergyman from a couple of centuries ago to endorse the notion that a little greed is good.
Buy-side wealth managers (a term unused if not unknown in 1963) at bank trust divisions had their own image problems: Stuffy. Dull as ditch water. Not really with it.

To promote the feeling that trust officers were regular fellows, the copywriters for Chase Manhattan's nest egg ads adopted an unbankerly informality. What bank today would describe its trust staff as "eagle-eyed and rock steady?"

Serendipitously, this ad fits nicely with the current meteor showers we're enjoying.

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