3 Cutting-Edge Ways to Get Clients

Standard approaches, even social media, are obsolete or insufficient, say three entrepreneurs at MarketCounsel conference

CEO Justin Wisz of Vestorly. CEO Justin Wisz of Vestorly.

Advisors’ unique business challenge today: To replace older clients drawing down their portfolios with young clients accumulating wealth. And though they may have attracted the older ones in an old-fashioned way, they must fashion new approaches to the young.

Or as John Rourke, CEO of Gotham Tech Labs, succinctly put it: “Everyone’s living online. You can’t cold-call people anymore. This is the world we live in now.”

Rourke is one of three cutting-edge entrepreneur panelists at the MarketCounsel annual conference in a session devoted to how next-gen advisors can find clients through innovative marketing.

Rourke, together with Justin Wisz, CEO of Vestorly, and Bill Okun, president of Relationship Science, described how their firms’ approaches can take advisors further than LinkedIn or Facebook.

Wisz kicked off the session with a warning to advisors about the insufficiency of email, social media marketing or traditional marketing campaigns.

“It gets your message out there but it doesn’t boomerang,” he says.

In an effort to go beyond static websites and mere posts, Vestorly offers what Wisz calls “personalized content discovery experiences” — essentially a dynamic news feed.

That, he says, is the new expectation of people trolling the web. “I can get curated content from my advisor because I want to know what he thinks about this article in Forbes or The Economist,” Wisz says, adding that Vestorly can “capture leads, help get new clients and generate client referrals.”

Using Vestorly, an advisor can say he wants articles on the Top 5 places to retire, for example, and the site will draw from all around the Web to create a targeted news feed.

“They experience the web through your lenses,” Wisz says.

The average person views more than 80 pages of Web content a day and has an average of three shares a day, Wisz says. And it is those sharing experiences that can generate leads, he says.

“Vestorly can help you understand how is this guy [who is sharing] related to me.

“We can see what they viewed; how many times they viewed it; what else they’re viewing. We can pull in their email, their phone number … home loan data; Experian data; it’s all on the web," he says. "You have to interpret data yourself.”

An advisor can program the tool to let him know when, say, a viewer has read five articles on the feed and meets certain pre-selected criteria, and then get in touch.

A second novel approach to digital marketing came from Relationship Science, whose business premise is that “relationship capital is the most underutilized asset,” according to Bill Okun, the firm’s president.

Relationship Science, which panel moderator Marion Asnes described as “LinkedIn on steroids,” is designed to help businesspeople leverage relationships they already have in order to get in front of hard-to-reach people.

The tool starts with Relationship Science’s “curated database,” augmented with algorithms that would help an advisor find out how close he is to ideal prospects.

“It answers ‘how do we get in touch?’ We leave it to you go figure out an artful way to get the introduction. We just show the path,” Okun said, adding: “It should lead to warm introductions.”

Okun, who built his career at Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ, repeatedly stressed the privacy of the process.

“We don’t touch your contacts,” he said. “We just use it to identify relationships.”

Okun said Relationship Science differs from other marketing approaches that are oriented toward daily tasks. “We’re more strategic,” he said. “We require people who want to dig in the system.”

The third innovation highlighted at the MarketCounsel panel was a customer relationship management approach to getting online clients, and indeed Gotham Tech Labs is the third CRM that veteran entrepreneur John Rourke has built.

In this go-round, Rourke was seeking to apply modern social design into two apps that would help connect investors to financial advisors.

The first of those two apps is called Wealthbase. Its approach is to embed Q&A widgets on consumer websites that enable financial experts to provide answers to questions consumers might have on, say, bitcoin.

By engaging the widget, consumers will come to Gotham’s site. The firm will white-label their system so that its clients, be it large broker-dealers or RIAs, can use it.

“An advisor can claim questions and can establish two-way private one-on-one conversations,” Rourke says. While the consumer’s anonymity is protected, he can elect to schedule a consultation with the advisor.

Weathbase debuts in March.

For advisors who can’t wait that long, Rourke has a second social CRM for advisors premiering in February that is designed to provide a simpler user experience.

Called Wealthbox, the app is designed to feel like LinkedIn or Twitter, something most advisors are likely to be familiar with. It tracks prospects and clients and eases collaboration. While not a Q&A platform like Wealthbase, it has some Q&A-type features, he said.

Rourke says his apps complement the other two presented at the session, and express his philosophy that “if it requires too much training, it probably won’t work; if it is understandable to the advisor, it probably will work.”

The serial CRM entrepreneur says he got his start cold-calling at Bear Stearns in the ’80s, and while that method does not work in a digital world, Wealthbase functions as cold-calling did “at the enterprise level.”

A potential hazard for Rourke and his two co-panelists operating at the cutting edge is working in an industry that can be resistant to what he termed the online world’s “electronic intimacy.”

But Rourke cautioned against such hesitancy: “The compliance issues around it will sort themselves out," he said. "If products like this don’t take place in the industry, the industry will be in trouble.”

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