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5 Biggest Mistakes Financial Advisors Make On Their Websites

The first point of contact between financial advisors and investors often occurs online, making the advisors’ websites a critical financial advisor marketing tool for creating first impressions and causing investors to initiate contact. 

Financial advisor websites are relatively unique based on the impact of the advisors’ services - for example, more money for retirement. Prudent investors are going to be very cautious when they approach financial advisors, in particular, if they have had a bad experience with a previous advisor. 


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Effective financial advisor websites must be designed to project credibility and trustworthiness. By weaving these elements into every page, financial advisors can deliver comprehensive information about their services and expertise and convince investors to give up their anonymity and initiate contact. 

However, despite this frequent intention, many financial advisors fall into common pitfalls that can detract from their website's productivity. In this article, we delve into a few of the bigger mistakes, shedding light on what not to do when designing a financial advisor website.


Lack of Transparency

The assumption by financial advisors that investors lack the knowledge to determine their quality can indeed lead to a lack of transparency. For example, financial advisors withhold any website information that will reduce their competitiveness when investors use the Internet to find, screen, and contact financial advisors. 

The foundation of financial advisory relationships is trust. Investors need to believe that their advisors are always acting in their best interests. When advisors withhold information, whether about their compensation, credentials, ownership, or potential conflicts of interest, it erodes trust that impacts initial impressions. Once trust is compromised, it's incredibly difficult to rebuild, causing investors to exit websites and never come back.

Investors rely on transparency and comprehensive information to make informed choices when they screen financial advisors on the Internet. 

A lack of transparency prevents them from fully understanding the credentials, risks, costs, and benefits associated with their selection of particular financial advisors. 

This makes it more difficult to compare the characteristics of multiple advisors.

In a market where investors have the tools and knowledge to compare financial advisors, transparency becomes a key differentiator. Advisors who are open about their practices, fees, and services can stand out from those who are not. By assuming investors cannot discern quality, advisors who lack transparency miss an opportunity to showcase their value proposition and build a competitive advantage.

Website transparency for financial advisors is a strategic decision. Financial advisors who embrace transparency can build stronger, more trusting relationships with their clients, differentiate themselves in a crowded market, and convert more visitors into qualified leads.


The Use of Technical Jargon

The use of technical jargon on financial advisor websites can be a significant strategic error. Why would investors contact advisors they don’t understand? They don’t and here is why.

Technical jargon can create a barrier between financial advisors and their potential clients. When investors encounter terms they don't understand, it can lead to confusion and frustration. This is especially true for newcomers to investing who may not be familiar with industry-specific language.

Effective communication is also key to building trust. If an investor does not understand what a financial advisor is talking about, they may doubt the advisor's willingness or ability to explain complex concepts in understandable terms. This lack of comprehension can erode trust, which is foundational to any advisor-client relationship.

Investors are more likely to engage with content that speaks to them in clear, concise language. If an investor struggles to understand the services offered or how they could benefit from them due to technical jargon, they are less likely to take the next step by contacting these financial advisors.

When financial advisors use a lot of jargon, it might give the impression that they are hiding something or making information more complicated than it has to be. This perceived lack of transparency can deter investors who prefer straightforward and honest communication.

For example, many advisors describe their firms as financial fiduciaries. Fiduciary indicates that the advisor is legally and ethically required to always act in their clients’ best interests. Many investors might not understand the significance of this designation and how it differentiates the advisor from others who may not be held to this ethical standard - the highest in the industry.

In another example, fee-only describes how financial advisors are compensated for their knowledge, advice, and services. Fee-only also means the advisors do not receive commissions from the sale of investment products which can reduce potential conflicts of interest. But, how many investors would know that? 

Explaining these concepts in simple, relatable terms can help investors understand how these qualifications and compensation models benefit them, leading to more informed decisions and a stronger advisor-client relationship. 


The Our Team Page

When small financial advisory firms encounter challenges with populating their "Our Team" page, particularly when their team is limited to one financial advisor and a few support staff, it's essential to approach the issue strategically to be competitive. 

A viable alternative is to create an "Our Founder" page that highlights the credentials, experience, and personal story of the principal financial advisor. This approach personalizes the firm and can build trust with potential clients.

Additionally, showcasing the support staff, especially if they possess notable credentials and longevity, adds depth to the firm's profile and humanizes the business. It's a way to demonstrate the collective expertise supporting the firm's operations, even if the team is small.

Incorporating profiles of affiliated professionals can also expand the perceived scope of the firm's services. By presenting a network of associated experts, small firms can illustrate their capability for providing a comprehensive range of services, similar to larger firms. This strategy not only enriches the firm's value proposition but also emphasizes the quality and breadth of its professional network.


The Custodian Page

The relationship between financial advisors, especially independent advisory firms, and their custodians is critical, not just for operational reasons but also as a key factor in building client trust and financial security. Highlighting a reputable custodian on a financial advisor's website can provide numerous benefits starting with transparency, depth of service, and scope of services.

By associating with brand-name custodians, financial advisors signal to prospective clients that their assets are being held by a reputable, stable institution. This can significantly enhance the credibility of the advisor, as it implies a level of safety based on the credentials of a much bigger firm.

Knowledgeable clients often equate the security of their investments with the stability and reputation of the custodian holding their assets. Profiling a respected custodian on a website underscores the advisor's commitment to safeguarding these assets. This perceived security is particularly important in an era where financial scams and uncertainties are frequently in the news.

For smaller, independent RIAs, competing with larger Wall Street firms can be daunting. However, leveraging the brand strength of a well-known custodian can help level the playing field. It suggests that the advisor has the infrastructure and partnerships in place to offer services on par with bigger firms, thereby appealing to clients who might be considering larger institutions for perceived security reasons.

Displaying the partnership with a custodian openly speaks to the advisor's transparency. It shows prospective clients that there is a clear mechanism for asset custody and management, which can increase their confidence in the advisor's operations.

Beyond marketing and perception, there are also operational benefits to working with a reputable custodian, such as access to a wide range of investment products, technology, and support services. Profiling this relationship can also hint at the operational efficiency and sophistication of the advisor's practice.

Be sure to explain how the custodian relationship enhances the advisor's offerings, including access to a broad range of investment options, technology, and tools.

Also, share why the advisor chose this particular custodian, focusing on alignment in values, commitment to security, and any other client-centric reasons.


The Compensation Page

Understanding how financial advisors are compensated, how much they are compensated, and who compensates them is crucial for investors for several reasons.

Describing compensation methods clearly on their websites helps advisors build trust with potential clients. It shows openness and honesty about how they earn their income, which is fundamental in a relationship that is based on trust.

Compensation methods help investors understand exactly what they are paying for. Knowing whether an advisor is "fee-only" or "fee-based" is just the start. Investors need to understand what these terms mean. 

For example, a "fee-only" advisor is compensated solely with fees that are paid by investors. They do not receive any commissions that are paid by third parties for the sale of their products.

Asset-based fees are often viewed as reducing potential conflicts of interest. On the other hand, "fee-based" advisors may receive both fees from clients and commissions from selling products, which can potentially lead to conflicts of interest.

While detailed fee schedules might be too complex for a website, a general description of how advisors are compensated (and how that might impact the investor) helps investors understand what they will pay for the advisor's services. This clarity can help investors compare pricing models and assess the value they are receiving in return.

Financial advisors who are clear about their compensation methods can differentiate themselves in a crowded market by appealing to consumers looking for transparency and integrity. It's a practice that benefits both advisors and their clients, fostering a healthier, more trustworthy relationship from the start.



In summary, investors are looking for evidence of expertise, transparency, safety, and a personalized approach when they visit financial advisor websites. Authenticity in content and images plays a crucial role in establishing trust and credibility, which are pivotal in the investor's decision to initiate contact.


About Paladin

Paladin is a team of digital marketing professionals with more than 100 years of collective financial industry experience marketing our clients' services to individuals, institutions, and financial advisors. Paladin is a boutique agency that was founded in 2003 to provide game-changing digital marketing services to a limited number of firms and professionals in the financial service industry. Our services range from designing and developing custom websites to providing SEO, SEM, and Fractional CMO services. Want more information about our digital marketing services? Email your request to Paladin’s CMO: Jack@PaladinDigitalMarketing.com.

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