Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Card Sharp - Patrick Muir, Vice-President and Head of Marketing, Morgan Stanley

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Card Sharp - Patrick Muir, Vice-President and Head of Marketing, Morgan Stanley

Article excerpt

For the marketer behind Egg, one of the UK's most journalist-friendly financial services brands, Patrick Muir is surprisingly reticent when it comes to talking about the challenges ahead of him at his new employer.

On arriving at Morgan Stanley's Canary Wharf offices, I am asked whether I mind if a PR sits in on the interview. It is not clear whether the PR is there to answer any awkward questions or ensure Muir doesn't really say anything. To be fair, it is more likely to be the former; this is Muir's first week in the role of head of marketing for the firm's consumer banking group, and his desk is almost clear, apart from a family photograph.

Moving from the relatively young Egg brand to a US banking giant must be a bit of a culture shock. As Muir's former colleague and Egg marketing director Jerry Toher comments: 'The greatest challenge for Patrick will be wearing a suit to work every day.' But this is one of the reasons Muir was hired; while Morgan Stanley is best known as an investment bank, it is eager to cut a swathe into the UK credit card market - and so needs to forge a more consumer-friendly identity.

Morgan Stanley's existing share of the UK consumer credit card market is only about 2%, so the creation of a dedicated marketing role to oversee its consumer business is a clear sign of ambitious growth plans.

On this day, true to his nature, Muir is casually dressed, and his style seems naturally laid-back and open. Unlike many financial services marketers, he clearly values a work-home balance. A 38-year-old married father of two, he starts work 'reasonably early', carries on through lunch, but leaves in time to get home in time to see his daughters.

He is talkative and frank when we move on to discuss Egg, and ongoing speculation about its sale. He admits that its attempt to break into the French market was a mistake. 'Egg strayed away from its DNA of UK consumer internet-based financial services,' he explains.

One of his beliefs is that brands, products and companies have what he calls a 'latent permission', by which he means there is a limit to what consumers will find acceptable in relation to that brand. For example, where Egg works in the UK as a consumer finance brand, the same did not apply to the French market. Although he had nothing to do with the French venture, Muir describes it as a 'horrible' experience. However, he adds that 'despite all the upheaval, Egg is a good robust machine'.

Before becoming a marketer, Muir undertook a business studies course, rather than taking A-levels. He did not go on to university - something people insist on reminding him about. …

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