Annie Leibovitz’s exhibition “WOMEN: New Portraits” just completed its 10 city global tour, which included stops in Hong Kong, Mexico, New York and London. The final showcase took place in Zurich, Switzerland, the home of the exhibition’s commissioning partner, UBS. The work is a continuation of Leibovitz’s “WOMEN” portrait series, which began 17 years ago and features women of outstanding achievement. This diverse group of women includes artists, CEOs, politicians and philanthropists, amongst others. Existing photographs of famous women who are at the top of their fields, such as Meryl Streep, Queen Elisabeth II or Hilary Clinton, were showcased next to 22 new portraits of outstanding personalities, such as Adele, Venus and Serena Williams or Sharyl Sandberg.
Annie Leibovitz and UBS brought together images of strong women from all over the world with different backgrounds, nationalities and paths, with the purpose of inspiring others and sending a powerful message about diversity and female empowerment in an original and real way.
That message is also one of the purposes of the five-year plan, which was launched by UBS Wealth Management earlier this year. UBS Unique focuses on globally scaling expertise in better serving female clients with their financial needs, questions and planning. Additionally, UBS aims to launch an education initiative in partnership with leading education organizations to increase the financial confidence of one million women by 2021.
The exhibition counted over 200’000 visitors and additionally offered 200 free learning events, which were presented in collaboration with 28 universities, 10 leading cultural organizations and over 150 women’s groups.
Today, the “WOMEN: New Portraits” world tour is finished and the works will join the UBS Art Collection, which is one of the world’s largest corporate collections of contemporary art and comprises more than 30’000 works. But what will happen to the perspectives, information and inspiration gained from this year of “WOMEN: New Portraits” on tour?
I met Johan Jervoe, CMO of UBS, Dr. Mara Harvey and Olga Miler, both Managing Director at UBS Wealth Management, at their Headquarters in Zurich to speak about diversity, change and the ‘female future’.
Mr. Jervoe, UBS’ new branding campaign focuses on women. Why did you decide to target them and why now?
Johan Jervoe: We are starting a new chapter in UBS’ 150 year plus story. We thought about different advertisement possibilities and decided to focus on real life situations: real people, real questions, real moments, and to feature them the way they really are. We agreed on the fact that it’s more important to focus on the client’s needs and questions rather than to speak about how sophisticated the bank is. Speaking of real, for our new campaign we immediately had Annie Leibovitz in mind. She is an extraordinary artist. She is a photographer that portrays realness in her work and in every situation. On the UBS Agenda, women are at the top. Annie Leibovitz came on board for the new campaign and asked: “If we want to empower women, why don’t we take it to the next level and start a new chapter of 15 years of ‚women‘ and take them around the world?” That’s what we did.
The exhibition has finished. Has the outcome met your expectations?
Dr. Mara Harvey: What resonated with us, in relation to the UBS Unique initiative, was the way that Annie photographs the person in front of the camera. She not only captures the essence of that person, but in some way she shows the true confidence of each woman. This whole notion of confidence, which was the core of what we were working on with our UBS Unique initiative to target women, was so spot on in conveying our message.
Have there been any eye-opening moments or new views that UBS has gained from this art exhibition tour?
Johan Jervoe: There wasn’t a single stop where the exhibition hasn’t gained huge interest whether from press, clients, non-clients, students, government or artists. It’s very clear: women and equality are a global subject. The world cares about it. The outcome was overwhelming. It’s a subject that matters to all cultures, all religions and all countries.
Olga Miler: It’s not all about marketing or generating business. It’s about commitment, a call to action. By going public with UBS Unique, we wanted to inspire others to follow. One surprising thing we’ve learned was how many genuine, fantastic people were willing to step forward to tell their story and share their thoughts. This inspired everybody else to tell them that it mattered. As much as it matters from a business perspective, even more so does it matter from a society perspective.
UBS created a short film, underlined by Joss Stone’s re-recorded song ‘Free Me’, that pops up some common female life questions, doubts and fears. How is UBS going to guide female clients through these?
Dr. Mara Harvey: We want the public to understand what “Holistic Wealth Management” really means. You don’t just come to a bank like ours if you want to know how to invest in stocks and bonds. You rather come to us to have a dialogue on what the purpose of your wealth is. For example, how is that wealth created in a business? Have you inherited or sold your company? Is it within a family context? What do you want to leave behind one day? We are not in a position to give clients definitive answers to those questions. However, we are there to guide them through possible solutions and similar cases. We conduct a conversation in such a way that makes a client (especially female ones) confident and feel that they are not alone with those questions. We show them a spectrum of other people in similar situations. Here is what we’ve done, here is what worked. We play an active role in developing our client’s financial life plan and helping them become the architect of their life.
What are the essential details that differentiate UBS’ work with female clients from the usual client relationship management?
Dr. Mara Harvey: It’s a combination of many details across all departments, which makes the work different. The most important factor is that the aim to support women is deeply rooted in our organization. We have built specific platforms specifically targeting UHNW clients that bring together passion, purpose, legacy and success. A unique quality of these dialogue platforms is that they are tailored to women. We give them an opportunity to network that you won’t find anywhere else. To serve women better, UBS Wealth Management developed a plan that spans across every element of the business. It starts by asking the question: Does this appeal to a woman as much as this appeals to a gentleman? In certain parts of the bank, we have already targeted female clients and see great results. There are various shapes and sizes of projects and cases. It does need to be tailored in every individual case. We do have a certain consistency in what we do and we know that the experience needs to be adapted to each customer’s needs.
What challenges does UBS face when it comes to female clientele? And what is the plan to overcome those challenges?
Dr. Mara Harvey: One of our main questions and biggest challenge is: Do they know what we can do for them?
There are so many aspects of the organization where we had to create balance in order to connect with clients from a feminine viewpoint. We make efforts outside in and inside out. We have expressed that they need something different from the financial industry. We are responding to it and listen to client’s needs to shape our organization their way. The biggest challenge we face is in developing a mindset shift in society. It starts with gender, that’s the most obvious one – and then we try to evolve it on every dimension.