Financial Advisors: How to Use Credentials to Document Your Expertise
We live in an increasingly complex financial world. Consequently, the investors’ need for skilled, knowledgeable financial advisors has never been greater.
Unfortunately, this rising need creates a major financial risk for investors who do not know how to determine the quality of advisors. They may select financial advisors with the best sales skills or personalities versus advisors with the best credentials and ethics.
The good news is investors are no longer dependent on what financial advisors tell them in sales presentations. The Internet is a major game changer if they know where to look. So, investors have access to vast amounts of information about financial advisor credentials and ethics.
This also creates a major financial advisor marketing opportunity for high-quality advisors whose credentials can withstand investor scrutiny on the Internet.
This article will describe several ways digital marketing for financial advisors can help showcase credentials digitally to generate leads, prospects, and revenue-producing clients.
The Game Changer for High-Quality Advisors
Until the advent of the Internet, investors did not have an easy way to validate what financial advisors told them. Wildly exaggerated claims sounded reasonable when skilled sales professionals presented them.
As a side note, the exaggerated claims worked because they were always verbal - over the telephone or in person. The advisors who used these tactics ensured investors had no written record of what was said to them.
What appears on your financial advisor website is a written record.
Enter The Internet
Cold calling and aggressive sales tactics are virtually obsolete. Caller ID was the last nail in that coffin. Consequently, advisors needed new ways to reach investors that were more efficient than telephone calls and less invasive.
Enter the Internet and Inbound Marketing. They represent a more effective way to reach investors. But, the Internet also made it easier for investors to find, research, and contact financial advisors. They did not have to limit themselves to referrals or contacts initiated by advisors.
That does not mean great financial advisors could sit back and wait for investors to walk in the door. They still needed a way to reach investors online and convert them into active leads.
This is the role of digital marketing in the electronic age.
The Internet and Your Credentials
Advisors need an effective marketing process that proves they are experts and causes investors to contact them. We believe the process starts with their digital marketing efforts on the Internet.
Following are several tips that will improve your digital marketing results.
Advisor Websites: Be sure to publish your credentials on your website and make it easy for investors to validate your claims. For example, if you have a designation, be sure to publish the source, the requirements, the continuing education requirements, and the requirement to pass tests in the future.
Transparency: You may not know what your competitors are doing, so it pays to always practice transparency. Withholding information that competitors are publishing may be a cause for exclusion in the investors’ selection processes.
The information you prefer to withhold may be public information if it is published on FINRA or in your ADV.
Google Name Searches: Make sure there is plenty of content with your name on it that has been published on the Internet using your blog or pillar page articles. This helps document you as a trustworthy expert in your field.
Testimonials, Reviews, Ratings: Be sure to solicit testimonials, reviews, and ratings from long-term clients. Their willingness to document their experience with you can build your online credibility. This tactic is subject to approval by your compliance department.
Education: A foundational indicator of a financial advisor's expertise is their formal education. Many genuine financial experts possess degrees in finance, business, economics, or related fields. Some financial advisors pursue MBAs or PhDs, which delve deeper into specialized finance areas. Higher education often indicates a deeper commitment to the expertise that helps investors achieve their financial goals.
Professional Experience: Relevant experience is often said to be the best teacher, and in the world of financial advice, this rings especially true.
Time spent advising clients provides invaluable lessons that can't be learned in classrooms. Long-standing advisors typically possess a wealth of real-world insights and knowledge.
The most valuable experience is tied to why investors select particular advisors. For example, investors are seeking advisors with complex planning expertise and the advisor has spent the past 10 years producing complex plans. This is the connection that gets financial advisors hired.
Designations and Certifications: Multiple designations and certifications reflect specialized training and a commitment to ongoing education. Some of the more respected credentials include:
- CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®): CFP®s have completed rigorous training and passed comprehensive exams. They also adhere to ethical standards and engage in continuing education.
- Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®): Many consider this the most highly regarded credential in the financial service industry. CFAs must complete years of study and pass three demanding exams.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Although normally associated with tax professionals, many CPAs also provide financial advice and services.
- Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®): Similar to the CFP®, the ChFC® designation indicates extensive financial training.
Remember, there is a good chance you will have to create value for the certification or designation.
Association Memberships: Memberships in high-quality associations can also be a significant source of continuing expertise. For example, some associations have continuing education requirements that keep financial advisors up-to-date on the latest regulations, technologies, and services.
Some of the better-known associations include: NAPFA®, CFP® Board, and CFA® Institute.
Trust & Verify: Regulatory bodies, professional organizations, and educational institutions often have services in place for verifying the credentials of financial advisors. Don’t hesitate to use them as one more way to validate your credentials.
Documentation: You may want to suggest to investors that they require documentation for the information that causes them to select particular financial advisors. As the saying goes: “Trust what you see and not what you hear.” This is particularly true when information impacts the financial future of investors.
The Team Approach
There is a good chance your firm is more marketable when you operate as a team that includes marketing, investment, planning, operations, and administration.
It is hard for investors to believe one financial advisor is an expert in all of these disciplines. This creates a significant marketing challenge for smaller firms with principals who wear multiple hats.
Investors are generally better off when they get the best thinking of a team versus an individual.
The team could include an FCIO (Fractional Chief Investment Officer) or an FCMO (Fractional Chief Marketing Officer) who can be represented on websites and add their expertise to a firm’s professonals.
The financial service industry is teeming with professionals with varying degrees of expertise and ethics. Investors can navigate this landscape more confidently by knowing the significance of advisors’ educational achievements, professional experience, and legitimate designations and certifications.
There is no substitute for expert advice that investors can trust without reservation. The Internet has the potential to make this happen. This is the digital marketing opportunity that every financial advisor dreams of.
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