Financial Advisor Marketing: 5 Tips For Building A More Successful RIA
What are financial advisors marketing when they sell investment advice and services to investors?
Or, you can reverse the question and ask yourself what are investors seeking when they outsource their need for financial advice and services to professionals?
It pays to have a crystal clear view of this pivotal question that impacts how financial advisors market their advice and services to individual investors.
Our goal for this article is to help financial advisors develop more productive marketing strategies that convert a higher percentage of leads and prospects into revenue-producing clients.
Build a better RIA with strategic digital marketing designed for the financial services industry!
Do investors trust brands or professionals?
The first financial advisor marketing question we will explore is do investors trust companies or professionals? Or, said a little differently, is financial services really a relationship business?
The independent RIAs have been very successful because the focus of their business models is the professionals who work there. Everything else is secondary: Fiduciary, fee-only, independent, etc. Anyway you slice it, financial advice is a relationship business that is based on trust.
Investors ask themselves: “Who can I trust to give me high-quality financial advice that will empower me to achieve my financial goals?”
Should I trust a company or should I put my financial future in the hands of particular professionals?
The extraordinary growth of independent RIAs suggests investors are more comfortable trusting professionals who provide the services they are seeking. The knowledge and ethics of financial advisors are paramount.
How does a solid foundation enhance financial advisor marketing?
Financial advisor marketing should emphasize the value of the foundation they have built for the security of their clients. Consider the following examples.
Independent financial advisors (RIAs, IARs) cannot take physical possession of their client’s assets. This regulation introduces the need for a custodian. Ideally, it is a brand name custodian that investors have heard of: Schwab, LPL, Fidelity, Pershing, etc. Each firm has decades of experience and is currently responsible for trillions of dollars of assets. Promoting this relationship increases the safety of investors when they select smaller firms they may not have heard of.
Another example is your source of investment ideas (research) and your ability to track investments after they are made. The big firms emphasize the size of their research staff when they compete with smaller firms. Chances are smaller firms have outsourced this work to third parties.
Monthly or quarterly performance reports can also be an important marketing point for financial advisors. Every investor wants to stay informed about the performance of their assets.
The independent financial advisor’s goal should be to eliminate any potential risks that are based on their business model.
How can independent financial advisors optimize their marketing?
The answer is in the title. Most financial advisors tend to emphasize their independence.
In particular, the advisors who left wirehouses and other brand name firms to start their own companies or join an existing RIA or IAR that is already independent.
There are several versions of independent advice that benefit investors:
- The principals of the firm provide advice and services
- There are no layers of management or ownership
- Banks or insurance companies do not own the firm
- Clients are not just numbers in a big system
- Clients have access to the real decision-makers
- Advisors are not being told what to sell by their managers
In fact, many of the above reasons describe why so many financial advisors have started their own firms or gone to work for independent firms.
Financial advisors have to become adept at marketing the benefits of their independent business models.
How does scaling financial advisor services hurt investors?
It is common knowledge that a more scalable business is a more profitable business. For example, many financial advisors treat all 50-year investors the same based on goals, investment horizon, and tolerance for risk. The result is the 50-year-old investor is plugged into the same model portfolio as the other 50-year-olds. Consequently, the financial advisors only have to build and manage one portfolio for their 50-year-old clients.
However, all 50-year-old investors are not the same. In fact, there can be major differences that impact their financial decisions. For example, there can be a wide variation in their needs to accumulate more assets. And, these needs have a big impact on their tolerances for risk.
The best financial advisors are adept at describing how their financial advice and services are tailored to the financial circumstances and needs of their clients.
How does the Internet level the marketing playing field for independent financial advisors?
Every financial advisor in America has a website. In general, these websites deliver the same marketing information to investors:
- About Us
- Who We Serve
- What We Do
- Why Select Us
This information makes it easy for investors to compare financial advisors to each other.
Most financial advisor websites also withhold the same information from investors: Fee schedules, assets under management, and other information that may cause investors to reject them.
One of the biggest differentiating characteristics is the Our Team page under About Us. What if the firm is composed of one professional? The Our Team page becomes the Our Founder page. Or, financial advisors affiliate with other professionals (CPA, estate planning attorney, business broker) to broaden the knowledge and services of their firms.
All of this information is made available to investors when they Google: Find a financial advisor near me. This is a level playing field when firms, regardless of size, are visible on page one, two, or three of the major search engines.
At the end of the day, it is all about conversion rates. How many:
- Investors found financial advisors on the Internet?
- Investors visited their websites?
- Visitors submitted their contact information and became leads?
- Leads actually met with financial advisors?
- Investors hired financial advisors?
This may look like a simple sales funnel process, but it is actually complex due to the competitive nature of the industry and the skittishness of investors. There is very little room for error when you market financial advice and services to individual investors and their families.