Let’s start with three assumptions about the types of investors who use the Internet and why they use the Internet to help them select the best financial advisors.
Assumption Number One: There are two primary types of investors who use the Internet to find, research, and contact financial advisors.
First, there are the first time users who have never selected a financial advisor. Perhaps they are rolling money from a 401k to an IRA or they have inherited a substantial amount of money and need help investing it.
Second, are the repeat users who have terminated financial advisors and are are seeking replacements. There are a number of reasons why they terminated previous advisors.
Assumption Number Two: Both types of investors are going to be very cautious when they select financial advisors. The first-time user has heard stories about bad advisors from friends, family, and the media. Brand name firms have paid millions of dollars in fines for abusing investors.
There is a good chance the replacement investor had a bad experience with a previous advisor. This type of investor does not want to make the same mistake twice. They need a better way to find and research financial advisors.
Both types want information that help them select the best financial advisors. They also want information that helps them avoid weak financial advisors.
Assumption Number Three: When investors talk to financial advisors they are going to hear sales pitches. Plus, the advisors control all of the information that is provided to the investors.
Let’s assume prudent investors want to control the information that they will rely on to select the best financial advisors.
The Prudent Investor
If you are a prudent investor, and the three assumptions apply to you, how would you find and research financial advisors?
The Internet would be your best solution for two reasons. First, you have access to substantial amounts of information when you visit financial advisor websites and Google search their names. Second, you can maintain your anonymity until you are ready to talk to advisors (no sales pitches) and you have more control over the information you will rely on to select the best financial advisor.
Financial Advisor Websites
If you agree with our assumptions, then what investors see on financial advisor websites takes on critical importance. That is because investors are using this information to screen the advisors they want to talk to.
They must have easy access to the information they are seeking. This means financial advisor websites have to provide intuitive navigation and clear messaging.
It also pays to practice transparency. Investors do not have to be that knowledgeable to recognize some financial advisor websites are more transparent than others. For example, one advisor website discloses how they are compensated and another does not.
Competitive Financial Advisor Websites
You should always assume investors are visiting multiple financial advisor websites before they initiate contact with the chosen few.
This means your website must be competitive with the other websites that investors are visiting when they use the Internet to find, research, and contact financial advisors.
Some financial advisors believe they do not need competitive websites because their primary source of new clients is referrals from people who know them.
Our surveys show this is a major fallacy.
A potential prospect may learn about financial advisors from friends, family, or another professional (CPAs, attorneys). But, remember the two types of investors (first-time and replacement) that are seeking advisors and their need to be cautious.
They may get financial advisor names from third parties, but they are still going to go online to learn more about them before they initiate contact. So, the content on financial advisor websites and what people see on the Internet still impacts their referral-based marketing systems.
The website is designed to appeal to investors who are selecting their first financial advisors and investors who are replacing financial advisors.
A competitive financial advisor website delivers the right information in an intuitive, transparent format.