Porter Gale headshot
PORTER GALE
Chief Marketing Officer

Personal Capital CMO on Finding the Fintech Company’s ‘True’ Brand

Fintech company Personal Capital may sound like an industry newcomer, but after 10 years and $11 billion in managed assets, the company has claimed a pretty decent slice of the pie. At the marketing helm is Porter Gale, a strategic force with more than 25 years of growth-driven marketing and advertising experience–most notably leading the team that turned Virgin America from an airline to a true brand. Nearly one year into her role as CMO at Personal Capital, Gale took us into the company’s recent rebranding and how it’s leaning into data-centricity to challenge industry norms.

Why did you choose to take on the CMO role at Personal Capital?

In late 2018, a recruiter called and mentioned Personal Capital was looking for a CMO to rebrand the company. I had never heard of Personal Capital, but decided to meet the CEO after trying their financial tools and immediately finding them helpful. During my interview process, I met the executive team and spent many hours with Jay Shah, our CEO. The financial tools were easy-to-use and intuitive, and the people articulate, passionate, and aligned. And importantly, I knew the executive team was comprised of people that I could see myself collaborating with.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in fintech? How will this change the future?

Advancements in fintech are happening in every corner of the industry. From innovations in payments, insurance and digital banking to blockchain, our financial futures will become increasingly connected to digital solutions via technology-focused companies. We’re also seeing a growing use of personalization and also a growing consumer expectation of real-time communication.

What are you currently working on that’s exciting?

On October 29, days after our 10-year anniversary, we rebranded our company from the inside out. We like to think of this as our “true” brand, rather than our “new” brand, because it more closely represents who we are as a company and what we believe in. We transformed our logo, our color, the website, updated the product experience and more. We also implemented a company-wide training on customer-centricity with a focus on “doing the right thing, always.”

What consumer insights most influenced the direction you took with the rebranding?

"...there is a gap in the financial marketplace for a modern, accessible brand for 'people like me.'"

During our research, we learned that consumers had positive perceptions of our company as a “tools and technology” company, but often respondents were not aware that in addition to providing free financial tools we are a wealth management provider. We also learned there is a gap in the financial marketplace for a modern, accessible brand for “people like me.” As a result, our new campaign showcases the human side of our company and includes technology and wealth management messaging. We also feature age and ethnically diverse talent in all communications to reflect our diverse user base.

How are you thinking about first-party data as it relates to personalization?

Because users and clients have aggregated more than $700 billion in assets on our platform, we have insight into 2% of investable assets in the U.S. We never sell personal information to outside parties and security is a top priority. We do use data to enhance the customer experience. For example, when we launched Personal Capital Cash, a high-yield account, we sent personalized messages to consumers to let them know exactly how much money they were losing by holding cash in low-interest accounts. For us, data is the foundation we use to build personalized product experiences.

As a challenger brand with room to grow, how have you had to get crafty with your marketing spend?

"...we will also lean into our public relations and content efforts as we are big believers in earned media."

As a challenger brand, we are very cost-conscious, data-centric, and strategic. Regarding being cost-conscious, we executed our entire relaunch with an in-house team. We only used outside partners for initial concepts, our branding and television production. From a data standpoint, we operate in a test-and-learn mode with everything we do. We also tailor our creative for every insertion so we can run the “right message in the right environment.” This year, we will also lean into our public relations and content efforts as we are big believers in earned media.

What’s one major challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?

One challenge I’ve faced, that has been a great honor and motivator, is also being a single mom. I’m very driven by the fact that I want to provide the best life possible for my daughter Rylee. I didn’t miss a beat when she was born and remember taking her to photoshoots and meetings in a Baby Bjorn. Now that Rylee is 17, I fill her ears with conversations about stock options, investing, and marketing strategies. She’s a wonderful kid. I know she’s absorbed a lot over the years listening to me talk about business.

What advice would you give to other marketing pioneers?

"There are aspects of marketing that can be measured and analyzed and others that are subjective and require a strong point of view."

My advice to other marketing pioneers is to make sure you believe in what you market. I also believe it’s important to think both rationally and emotionally about the craft. There are aspects of marketing that can be measured and analyzed and others that are subjective and require a strong point of view. Don’t be afraid to “test-and-learn” and push for strategies, creative and ideas that you believe in.