Tadiem goes HiFi to meet evolving needs of financial services

Tadiem has launched HiFi, a new financial services consultancy that becomes the fifth brand inside its roster, alongside Bensimon Byrne, One Method, Narrative, and Folk.

Led by Erin O’Connor (above), who has held leadership roles at Bensimon Byrne and Tadiem since 2015, HiFi will have just three full-time employees to start, but will draw on resources from across the 200-person Tadiem network—from advertising and design, to PR and strategy—to meet the needs of each client and project.

“It didn’t actually make sense to house it in one of our divisions because then it would anchor it to that specific area of expertise,” said O’Connor. “So we thought, let’s launch a brand new division.”

The focus is on the unique needs of FI clients beyond the big mass banking and insurance brands. It launches with the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (created from the recent merger of IIROC and MFDA), as well as asset management firms Picton Mahoney and Aviso Wealth as clients.

The marketing services needs in financial services in Canada are similar to those of pharma and health marketing, said O’Connor. It’s a highly regulated category, and many of the brands need a diverse array of services spanning a wide range of clients, from retail consumers, to high-wealth investors, and advisors.

“There’s a learning curve that a lot of those specialized clients are not willing to put up with when they engage an agency partner,” she said. “They really appreciate it when you can walk in the room and immediately speak their language.”

“At Tadiem, we’re always looking for ways to challenge traditional industry models,” said Tadiem CEO Sarah Spence in a release. “To stress test the HiFi offering, we spoke extensively with people across the financial services sector, from CEOs and CMOs to fintech founders; and heard overwhelmingly that this model addressed an unmet need for these clients.”

O’Connor has experience working with TD Bank Group, Scotiabank, Tangerine and Great West Lifeco, and Bensimon Byrne worked with Scotiabank for 20 years until 2020. But O’Connor said launching HiFi is not intended to help win back one of the big banks or financial brands.

“What this model says is one single FI client is not the future,” she said. It’s more like a consulting or big tech approach, where the Deloittes,  Accentures and Google, for example, can work with multiple banks at one time.

When talking to potential clients about this new model, most said they had no concerns about conflicts. “That’s a pretty outdated model,” said O’Connor. The appropriate safeguards will be introduced and followed, but the lines that defined categories in the past have blurred to the point of irrelevance, she said, pointing to Apple getting into financial services as just one example.

“The consulting, tech and accounting firms haven’t been using [traditional models] for years. So we’re just kind of evolving the way other professional services have,” she said.  “What we’re saying is if you need this set of specialized skills to elevate your messaging and marketing, to connect with analysts, advisors, shareholders, potential investors, anybody, come to us.”

The name stands for both high finance and high fidelity, said O’Connor. “Which is a little bit of how we want to bring our work to our clients—a little bit sharper and smarter than perhaps some others would.” But it also evokes high fives and fun. “We say we’re the best part of our clients day. When you’re a banker that looks at numbers all day, and the marketing people come, it is the best part of the day.”


David Brown