On the one hand, investors want to see the same information on financial advisor websites that they would ask for if they did not have access to this information on the Internet. This is the basic information that they use to screen financial advisors before they contact them.
There is a minimum amount of basic information that every financial advisor website should deliver to investors who visit their sites:
- Who are you (background)?
- Who are your professionals (profiles)?
- What do you do (services)?
- Who do you serve (types of clients)?
- Why should I contact you (differentiating characteristics)?
All other information may distract investors from the information they are seeking on financial advisor websites.
Investors Seeking Connections
Financial advisor websites should be designed to produce connections. Investors visit advisor websites, like what they see, and they initiate contact by filling out a landing page. It may sound simple, but it is not. The predisposition of investors is to withhold their contact information. Therefore, the information on the advisors’ websites has to be pretty compelling.
One form of compelling is financial advisor websites have to be competitive with the other sites that investors are visiting. Do the sites deliver all of the information that investors are seeking? Do the sites practice reasonable amounts of transparency? Do the advisors provide the services that investors are seeking?
Another form of compelling is the advisor creating a connection between the visitor and the firm. For example, investors are pre-retirees who are a few months away from rolling their 401k assets into an IRA. They are seeking an advisor who can help them plan their retirement and invest their assets.
The advisor’s website has content that says they serve pre-retirees. This is the connection the investor is looking for.
Websites are a delivery system for information about financial firms and professionals.
More importantly, they are part of an inbound marketing system that is being embraced by increasing numbers of financial advisors. The key to this system is investors using the Internet to find, research, and initiate contact with financial advisors.
This is much different than the past when financial advisors relied on outbound marketing systems that required advisors to initiate contact with investors. Two common forms of outbound marketing were cold calling and direct mail. The weakness of outbound marketing was advisors contacting investors who did not want to be contacted.
Today, increasing numbers of investors are using the Internet to find and research financial advisors. This makes inbound marketing an advisor’s best strategy for reaching investors.
Firm vs Professional Bios
If the investor found the financial advisor’s website on Internet, then the investor’s research will most likely be focused on information about the firm.
On the other hand, if the investor has been referred to a professional at the firm, there is a good chance the investor will be researching the professional and the firm. Consequently, every professional who interacts with investors and professionals who are involved in the delivery of advice and services should be profiled on financial advisor websites.
The most important information is credentials: Experience, education, certifications, and association memberships.
Next is information that impacts ethics: Registrations, fiduciary status, and compliance record.
Third is business practices: Accessibility and method(s) of compensation.
Be sure to differentiate what is a business practice of the firm (reporting) versus the business practice of a professional who works for the firm. Most business practices apply to firms versus the professionals who work there.
How does the dynamic change when financial advisors are being interviewed by investors?
In the midst of the coronavirus, we can assume most of the interviews will be virtual. But, just because the contact is telephone or computer the process of gathering information from investors is the same.
The advisor should assume investors already know a lot about them. Investors have visited the advisors’ websites and Google searched their names. Advisors should also assume investors’ research was conducted for firms and professionals.
This means personal interactions are more about investors. It is important that financial advisors gather as much information as possible about investors:
- What types of services are they seeking?
- Do they meet the firm’s minimum requirements?
- What is their past experience with advisors?
- What is their investment horizon?
- What is their risk tolerance?
Delivering Additional Information
When the advisors’ information gathering phases are complete, they should switch to delivering the information investors are seeking. This would be additional information that is not available on financial advisor websites. For example:
- A description of the advisors’ planning services
- How advisors will invest their clients’ assets
- How advisors will manage financial risk
- Examples of monthly and quarterly reports
- The frequency of service meetings
- The types of meetings (face-to-face, virtual)
Websites Versus Sales
In the past, advisors controlled all of the information that investors relied on to select them. Advisors used their relationship and sales skills to present this information to investors. Investors heard what the advisors wanted them to hear.
Sales skills are still important, but the Internet is a game-changer. It gives investors access to vast amounts of information about advisors before they interview them. Financial advisor websites deliver the initial information that investors use for research and screening.