Every financial advisor firm has a website. It is reasonable to assume they have websites because all of their competitors have websites. They do not want to be conspicuous by their absence.
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Websites are the financial advisors most powerful sales tool because they are responsible for convincing visitors (investors) to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information. This is a critical function otherwise financial advisors have no way to contact visitors that visit their websites.
So, what exactly should financial advisors expect from their websites? We think there are five answers to this critical question.
1. Leads & Contacts
A lead is an investor who is actively seeking a financial advisor. They are using the Internet to find and research advisors before they schedule interviews.
Contacts are investors who are seeking two types of information. Some investors are seeking information about the financial advisor. They plan to retire in six months and are researching advisors in their communities. However, they are not ready to talk right away. Or, they are seeking financial information and found an advisor article on the Internet.
Every financial advisor website should be designed to produce leads and contacts for their CRM systems.
2. Deliver the Right Information
Another important characteristic of financial advisor websites is their ability to deliver the information that investors are seeking. The information may be about the firm or a financial topic.
The right information about firms includes four basic categories: Who We Are, What We Do, Who We Serve, and Why Select Us. This is the information that investors are seeking. By providing this information, financial advisors are making it easier for investors to compare financial advisors to each other. If a financial advisor website does not deliver this information in an intuitive manner, there is a good chance that investors will exit the site and not return.
The toughest content to develop on the website may be Why Select Us. This is where financial advisors will list their differentiating characteristics: How are we different, why are we better, and why select us for an interview. This is where advisors also describe their fiduciary status and how they are compensated.
3. Build Credibility & Trust
Investors are seeking financial experts they can trust. This may sound simple, but it's not. Every financial advisor claims to be the trustworthy expert that investors are seeking.
Many advisors tend to describe their planning and investment processes to establish their expertise. Unfortunately, most investors don’t know a good process from a bad one.
Other advisors use their bios to provide information about their education, years of experience, and certifications/designations. This information may not be enough to establish their expertise because it is not a substitute for an audited, GIPS compliant track record.
Some advisors also use “fiduciary” and “fee only” to market their firms as trustworthy. However, this does not distinguish them from other firms who have the same characteristics.
Perhaps the key to creating credibility and trust is not years of experience. Instead, it is years of experience providing financial advice to a firms’ primary types of clients. For example, instead of saying an advisor has 15 years of experience, the advisor has 15 years of experience providing financial advice and services to business owners who are within five years of retirement and selling their companies. This is applicable expertise that benefits clients.
4. Make an Exchange
One of the most overlooked design elements of financial advisor websites is creating a safe haven for investors when they are asked to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information.
Think about it. Investors find your firm on the Internet. All they know about the firm is what they see on the Internet. They may be a little skeptical about what they see because the information is controlled by the financial advisors. Also, the financial service industry has a reputation for some pretty aggressive sales tactics.
Some advisors provide free plan or portfolio reviews as an inducement to initiate contact. This rarely works because very few investors are going to be comfortable submitting financial data to a financial advisor they barely know.
A more effective offer is a free, no obligation eBook that addresses a common investor pain point or fear. For example, how to plan for a long retirement with all of its challenges and risks. Advisors are exchanging their specialized knowledge for the investors’ contact information. eBooks are another way financial advisors establish themselves as credible experts.
5. Start a Relationship
A lot is being written about nurturing investors from the initial stages to becoming revenue-producing clients. It is hard to argue which stage is most important, but it stands to reason financial advisor websites are a critical link in the nurturing process. If they do not do their job, there is no lead, and if there is no lead, there is no nurturing process.
This is why contacts may be just as important as leads. They are future leads who are still in the information-gathering phase of their research. Financial advisor websites start relationships by providing the information that investors are seeking. If an eBook is used the foundation of the relationship is the advisor’s specialized knowledge on that financial topic.
Since the beginning of the relationship is an exchange of information, this should be very non-threatening to investors. After all, they are using the Internet to find this information and ended up reading a financial advisor’s blog article. This gives financial advisor websites a one-time opportunity to convince investors to initiate contact. The opportunity is fleeting. If investors exit sites without submitting their contact information, there is a very low probability they will return.