By Powerscourt on 30/10/2023

Why Corporate Affairs Matters: A Powerful Combination of Insight & Wisdom

Victoria Palmer-Moore (Senior Managing Director at Powerscourt, a Morrow Sodali company) and David Duffy (Chief Executive at Virgin Money UK) discussed the importance of data-supported insights and embedding purpose for a business.

In 2020, CYBG consolidated Group banking operations under the rebranded Virgin Money UK PLC. With a 180-year history at Clydesdale Bank’s core, there was a balance to strike between evolving Richard Branson’s Virgin Money brand and creating a contemporary business. The result is now the 6th largest bank in the UK.

For Virgin Money’s 6.6 million customers, corporate affairs is crucial to building and strengthening brand engagement. Victoria and David’s discussion began by looking at the role of corporate affairs and where it can add the most value.

David considers corporate affairs as the “beating pulse of the business” – an axis that should challenge senior leadership in the direction and decisions of the company. With Virgin Money’s executive leadership team making decisions to grow the business, corporate affairs professionals must translate the risks and opportunities of the external environment. This means acting as a radar and being ‘plugged in’ to the business world and its stakeholders.

Data is central to Virgin Money. But there is a distinction between ‘flat data’ – the fundamentals – and ‘science data’ – the analysis and interpretation of this information to produce insight. And for corporate affairs professionals, the value-add of their opinions and insight in this process is key. It’s science data that is needed to evolve senior leaders’ perspectives and it’s the corporate affairs professionals that can make this happen. For David, corporate affairs wisdom is the interpretation of data and insight and its relevance for the business. This is highly valuable.

Equally important for Virgin Money is embedding purpose across the business and its operations. Making You Happier About Money is powerful and conveys that the bank is actively improving consumers’ attitudes towards their finances. Every word matters. In a similar way, the Kiss Our ISA campaign was designed to hone connections with customers looking for accessible and engaging products. On the corporate affairs radar, understanding and enabling the brand-consumer relationship is central. For David, living this purpose means making tough decisions and continuously asking “what’s not working”. Corporate affairs can honestly answer this question.

As businesses like Virgin Money innovate and grow, corporate affairs must evolve. Data and insight are core to successfully performing the role as is the value-added of opinion and interpretation. At Virgin Money, corporate affairs is a crucial means of holding senior leaders to account and staying true to a brand’s values and ethics. They are the people driving real insight across the business – even when this is non-traditional and challenging.