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2010 advisor survey (expanded content)

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Of the more than 500 people who took part in this year’s first Advisor Survey, many had pertinent (and sometimes frank) comments to add to their evaluation of the state of the industry, their hopes for the future and their feelings on products, sales tools and selling strategies. As an extrapolation of this month’s feature on the survey, here’s more of the verbatim feedback provided our readers.

- Andy Stonehouse, Managing Editor, Senior Market Advisor

Do you support SEC 151A?

Simple. It’s not a securities product. It is a foot in the door for another industry for the Fed to take over

What keeps you up at night?

Competition, new tech, legislation have always been factors. Change will always prevail. I worry about who I will talk to tomorrow!

Worried if I’m going to be able to stay in business, and if not, will I be able to find employment during these current times?

Qualified leads are harder and harder to come by nowadays as many people are bombarded with information that oftentimes doesn’t even relate to their personal situation. On top of unscrupulous sales practices, and with the huge economic downturn, people are weary of trusting anyone, and rightfully so.

We’re all gonna need to “run” a lot faster to keep up with the changes just over the horizon.

The vulnerability of everyone’s finance is somewhat disturbing. Waiting for the cycle to change is tough.

Having qualified prospects is always the issue for any agent that wants to excel in this industry. Some veteran agents are accustomed to the art of asking for referrals, while others are not. Lead companies are varied in their approach to selling lists to agents. We find that most of the so-called leads are general and incomplete, when it comes to calling the prospect. To have a qualified lead, you need to “scrub” the phone number, disclose the criteria of the lead and know whether or not your lead is “exclusive.” Having enough resources for success is and always will be the challenge.


What marketing strategies to gain clients are working for you in the current economic climate?

I compete against representatives who show little willingness to go out of their offices and be where the people are. I love to be “on the scene” with my logo t-shirt on, telling people what I do to help families.

Getting to know people personally. Advocacy works for me. My clients realize how valuable my services are, appreciate what I do and refer me as a great advocate for what they need.

Picking up the phone, making those calls on a disciplined, regular schedule. Letting those I meet and those I know know what I do for a living.

Referrals – REFERrals – REFERRALS! Advertising, you can buy. Referrals have to be earned…

Community involvement helps because I am able to reach those that are in need of my services faster. Also the more often they see me, the more likely they are to think of me when it comes time.

E-mail works very well for efficiency and follow-up, with clients and prospects. E-newsletters, like the community involvement, helps because of the number of times clients and prospects see my name, my company’s name and my contact information.

What marketing strategies to gain new clients are not working for you in this current economic climate?

Direct advertising through any medium is ineffective at best. People want to buy from those they trust, not from a product brochure or banner ad.

People get too much junk mail. Electronic or snail mail, unless they are already a client, they just don’t read what we send.

I find that seniors, while having some e-savvy, still prefer the face-to-face meeting so they can feel confident in their decisions and advisor

Direct mail was great 18-20 years ago, now most people (including me) sort their mail over the trash can. E-newsletters are too time-consuming. And everyone is bombarded with e-media. I get so many newsletters I can’t possibly read them all. I prefer e-mail. It’s quick, to the point and not intrusive to my clients’/prospects’ time.

People are inundated with junk mail and direct mail is a waste of money and time. In the past year, the majority of people are too concerned with the economy and the future to invest time in seminars. One-on-one works the best, discovering clients’ goals and objectives and partnering with them to achieve these.

Have you changed any aspect of your practice since the stock market crash in the fall of 2008?

I’ve been through them before, and I plan to be through them again so when times are good I remind clients there are cycles and we prepare the investments according to their needs while prepping for the worst.

How has new technology, such as computers, social media and personal Web sites changed the way you do business?

Seniors 70+ aren’t part of the tech revolution and it is a sore point with many. We take it for granted and expect them to do the same. Not so.

It has helped me stay organized, keep track of my pipeline, analyze my data and performance and streamline marketing efforts. Technology only takes away the personal touch if you allow it too. I still personally call all of my existing clients every quarter. I don’t rate my clients A, B, or C; they are all valuable to me and have helped me get to where I am. I treat them all the same, so they’re all ABC, or whichever label you want to give them I call. They love me for it!

I would really like a SIMPLE explaination of how to use Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook.

Technology has increased productivity, but taken away personal interaction. Computers are great when they work. I’m an insurance salesman, so why doI know how to de-frag a disk or download a new anti-spy software? I used to spend a hell of a lot more time on prospecting, now it’s e-mail and Webinars.

Due to the current economic uncertainty, has your advisor-client relationship evolved into more of a coaching or educational role?

They are asking questions that they have not asked before. I would not necessarily say it is negative but it is not positive either. They are keeping me honest and on my toes! Not that I was not honest before, they are simply asking more questions, better questions.

They have more confidence and trust in me now than ever before. There’s always that, “Let’s start out little and see how you do” mentality. Since the crash, none of my clients have lost a dime, now they believe and trust in everything I have to offer and are quick to refer friends to me. I survived the summer of ’08 on referrals and existing clients. I’m forever grateful!

As time continues, senior clients become more receptive to someone who is consistent with the efforts and approach. They begin to know you by name and see the contact approaches as being consistent and informational. I noticed that seniors are always wanting to be educated.

There’s a serious aura of “distrust.” Again, the media has done an exceptional job of painting agents/advisors as “Wall Street Predators.” It’s tough after addressing all of their needs and concerns, they speak to their friends who without knowing either the needs and concerns, nor the product, nor me, explain how they are being robbed of their money!

More coaching and education.

More information available online and media. Clients do some research on their own. The problem is convincing them that the “too good to be true” promises are really too good to be true!

I am more of a comforter and consoler and motivator due to calming people’s nerves from market volatility.

My role as an “advisor” is always about “coaching” AND “educating.” If you’re not doing that, you’re not an “advisor.”

More of a Psychiatrist…. early part of the year, I had to take much more of a leadership role with stronger encouragement, confidence and had to display more of a take charge role to quell the client’s fears…..

I don’t like the buzz word, “advisor”. First, I am an insurance salesman. Of course, I advise people on their purchases of insurance BUT I am and always will be an insurance salesman.