Thought Leadership: PNC “Perspectives of Retirement”

The Situation

In 2012, PNC Bank asked Artemis Strategy Group to help support the bank’s position as a leader in the crowded world of retirement planning and investment advice by conducting thought leadership research to generate original insights on public attitudes and behaviors. This approach builds on the core strengths of Artemis and extends PNC’s powerful thought leadership communications program.

Our Recommendation

We began this assignment with two preparatory analyses designed to create a stronger platform for public surveys. One was our “white space analysis” to identify open opportunities. These custom analyses are critical ingredients in our success with thought leadership studies. The second was an in-depth qualitative examination, using our Motivation Research approach to isolate emotional hot buttons deserving attention in the studies that followed. This emphasis on finding the motivational drivers is a critical ingredient in any communications campaign, so critically important to build into a thought leadership program.

The first Perspectives of Retirement Study (July 2012) captured the attitudes of more than 1,000 high-net-worth individuals nationwide, accurately categorized as “successful retirement savers.” The study focused on some of the ingredients of their success: determination, early saving and discipline. The results from this study were publicly released and picked up by major national media outlets as well as a wide range of local outlets that are important targets for this campaign.

PNC has a history of building valuable thought leadership properties through consistent effort. So it made sense to extend this initial success with an ongoing program of research on retirement. Artemis continued its national surveys, adding opportunities for additional insights with special survey add-ons for probing key concerns and with audience modifications that create new kinds of comparisons.

The second Perspectives of Retirement Study (January 2013) revealed the avoidance that many high-net-worth Americans associate with retirement planning. PNC used this triggering message to communicate simple steps people can take to lock in good financial planning habits.

The third study in the series (July 2013) was expanded to adults of all financial means, allowing for comparisons among households that differed widely in means and retirement preparation. This survey drew out important inconsistencies in pre-retirees’ expectations about when they expect to retire and how well prepared they are, partly by showing that many early retirees left the workforce earlier than they planned.

The Outcome

This body of research has served PNC Bank’s goal of elevating the visibility of its thought leadership position in retirement financial services. The bank has capitalized on the insights from this unique research not only to raise its public profile but also to support internal training, marketing collateral creation and even product development.