Let’s say you have decided to leave your current financial advisor firm and start a firm of your own. At the top of your to-do list is the selection of a brand name and logo that represents the expertise and professionalism of your new firm. These will be the hallmark of a new firm that intends to manage hundreds of millions or billions of dollars for hundreds of individual and/or institutional investors.
Another high priority is the development of a financial advisor website that serves three primary purposes:
- Creates the right electronic first impression
- Delivers the information that investors want to see
- Convinces visitors to give-up their anonymity and contact you
There is no question developing a website that can deliver all three results is a major challenge for two reasons. First, every financial advisor has a website so there is a substantial amount of competition. Second, investors will visit multiple financial advisor websites before they select the few that they want to contact for interviews. Your challenge is to develop a website that delivers the information that investors want to see, so you make the interview stage.
Before we dive into the top five categories of information that investors are seeking let’s spend a minute on the format of the information. Increasing numbers of financial advisors are using video on their websites to convey the information that investors are seeking. It stands to reason that a significant percentage of investors prefer watching videos versus reading lengthy pages of text to learn more about financial advisor firms. So, the format of the information is important.
A second key element is your firm’s willingness to practice full disclosure on your financial advisor website. For example, will you disclose your firm’s inception date, assets under management, and method(s) of compensation? Older, bigger, fee-only firms are more inclined to disclose this information. Smaller, newer firms are less likely to disclose the information. Therefore, the latter need workarounds to compete with the bigger firms that have more resources.
Let’s start with information about your firm. There is certain key information that investors would like to see that falls into these categories:
- How old is the firm?
- How big is the firm? Assets? Professionals?
- Who owns the firm? Professionals who work there? Third parties?
- What are the firm’s licenses and registrations?
- What about the firm’s compliance record?
- How is the firm compensated for its services?
One of the most visited pages on financial advisor websites is the Our Team page where advisors should display the profiles of their key professionals. Bigger firms tend to limit profiles to principals, advisors, and other professional staff. They do not profile administrative staff unless those professionals are interacting with investors.
The profiles of the professionals can be a blend of professional and personal information. Professional information should include education, years of experience, certifications, and association memberships.
Personal information can include years in the community, family, personal interests, and why professionals decided on a career in the financial service industry.
Ideal Types of Clients
Numerous surveys have shown investors prefer specialists versus generalists handling their financial affairs. So Doctor Smith prefers to work with a financial advisor who specializes in working with doctors.
This is an important distinction because a significant percentage of financial advisors say they prefer to work with HNW or UHNW investors. This is a generalization that is based on the liquid assets of the investors.
What investors are seeking are financial advisors who work with people like them and not just anyone who meets their minimum asset requirement.
It stands to reason the more specific the client description the more specialized the financial advisor. For example, a firm’s website says its ideal type of client is a female investor. Another firm’s website is more specialized when it says they work with women who are recently widowed, divorced or have inherited substantial amounts of money.
Financial Advisor Services
There is a certain irony in this category of information. Most financial advisors provide planning and investment services. Some also provide insurance and tax services and some are family offices that provide all five wealth management services including legal (estate plans, wills, trusts).
Some financial advisors limit their advice and services to what they deliver with their own teams of professionals. Other advisors also include the advice and services of affiliated professionals - for example, CPAs and attorneys. They only affiliate with professionals who do not compete with their economic interests.
This makes differentiation a challenge, so why be concerned about it? The real challenge is clear descriptions of financial advisor services that benefit the ideal types of website visitors. This means no technical jargon and no lengthy descriptions of planning and investment processes that may confuse visitors to financial advisor websites.
Why Select Us
If there is going to be any sales type information on a financial advisor website it would be under this category. Advisors should consider five to seven characteristics that are important for investors to know. Example of some of the keyword descriptions include:
- Independent if you are owned by principals who work there
- Financial fiduciary if you are an RIA or IAR
- Fee-only if that is your only method of compensation
- Full disclosure if that is your business practice
- Boutique if you are a smaller advisory firm
- Combined years of experience
- Best thinking of a team versus an individual
- Number of professional designations (CFA, CFP, CPA, CIMA)
Some of this information could also be displayed on the Our Team page.
Investors Buy Benefits
You already know investors buy benefits and not features. So it is very important to describe the feature and the associated investor benefit.
For example, your firm is a financial fiduciary. How does that benefit the clients of the firm? Most advisors say this feature makes them more trustworthy because they are held to a higher ethical standard. The value of this benefit is diluted when all financial advisors make the same claim. You have to be more creative than that.
Pick the Right Agency Partner
It stands to reason financial planners and investment advisors are not digital marketing experts. Their specialized expertise is planning and investing. So, it pays for them to consider hiring a digital marketing agency that has the specialized skills to build lead generation websites and provide the Inbound Marketing services that produce traffic for the websites.
You do not want just any agency that can build a website. You should select an agency that specializes in your industry. Just like your firm works for particular types of investors, you want a digital marketing agency that specializes in working with firms like yours.