Profile: Ellen Taverner, Credit Suisse Asset Management - Gaining Credit where it’s due/Ellen Taverner prepares get to grips with brand values at Credit Suisse

Ellen Taverner, who becomes Credit Suisse Asset Management’s (CSAM) first head of international communications in March, moved to the UK from the US east coast nine years ago, but she still describes herself as a ’foreigner’.

Ellen Taverner, who becomes Credit Suisse Asset Management’s (CSAM)

first head of international communications in March, moved to the UK

from the US east coast nine years ago, but she still describes herself

as a ’foreigner’.

She came to London in 1989, to work at KPMG Management Consulting with

US and European hi-tech companies, expecting to return home within two

years. In fact, she was recruited by Nasdaq to work in its London

office, and married an Englishman.

’Being a foreigner, I never assume I’m the centre of the universe,’ she

says. I assume that every country, every market, has its own unique

characteristics, and if you want to do business there, or you want to

live there, you need to understand what those are.’

Taverner’s background is in marketing IT and it was with this experience

that she secured her current role as vice-president for international

marketing at the US computerised stock market Nasdaq. She says she will

have to learn about asset management. But CSAM’s headhunters recognised

that her wide-ranging communications experience and familiarity with

financial services markets worldwide are attractive qualifications for

the new post.

Since 1992, Taverner has designed Nasdaq’s global marketing strategy

outside the US and directed its implementation. Her fascination with

positioning also fits neatly with CSAM’s desire to secure itself as a

global asset management brand. ’Coming up with a unique position for a

brand and understanding the values that are associated with a brand -

that tends to be what I read about and the kind of thing I talk about to

people,’ she says.

Harking back to her years of marketing hi-tech in California, she cites

the Apple Mac as an example of great positioning: ’When the Macintosh

was launched, the PC marketplace was dominated by IBM. A traditional

approach would have been to say: ’OK, we want market share’’,’ she says.

Instead, ’they created a new market segment, called desktop publishing,

which was then dominated by the Apple Macintosh. Defining a new segment

in the minds of PC users was what made that launch so successful.’

Taverner’s new audience - CSAM’s current and potential customers - is

primarily institutional. The company’s biggest markets are in the UK,

Europe, Japan and Australia. It has a reputation for cautious asset

management, producing reliable rather than spectacular returns on the

pounds 115 billion it stewards, says a senior source at a rival Swiss


At present Taverner’s communications team comprises some 10 people

dotted around the world. She is undaunted by the organisational

challenge: ’I’m not a command and control type person, so I see it as an

opportunity to teach people and to act with regard to how the branding

and communications can be done. I’m a very good listener, I’m

collaborative in my approach, and I think that’s the best way to do


Besides co-ordinating the in-house PR effort, Taverner must decide

whether to appoint external expertise. She speaks approvingly of

arrangements at Nasdaq, which outsources most of its communications

needs through a network of different agencies around the world,

co-ordinated in London by Ogilvy, Adams and Rinehart.

’In the past everybody would hire an agency and then hire their network

around the world. I’m not convinced that that’s the best approach. I

think it’s better to go into the country and find the best agency for

you in that country,’ argues Taverner. ’The name on the door quite often

doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s the people that I would be working

with in that agency that matter.’

One quality she prizes is creativity. She tries to cultivate it in

herself by balancing hard work with other activities, including reading

philosophy and history, gardening, skiing and even producing plays.

’It’s important for me to have a diverse life,’ says Taverner. ’The

creative process is fuelled by the unexpected.’



Executive consultant,KPMG Management Consulting


Vice-president, international marketing, Nasdaq Stock Market


Director and head of international communications, Credit Suisse Asset


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