Michelle Draper delivered a presentation on Wednesday on how RIAs can build powerful brands at the Investment Adviser Association Annual Conference in San Francisco. This article is an excerpt from that presentation. To view a video of Draper exploring more on this topic, see the second page in this article.-Ed.
When you think of companies with great brands, giant global leaders like Apple, McDonald’s or Honda probably come to mind. But here’s something you might not realize: As a registered investment advisor, you too have a brand—regardless of whether you’re a one-person operation or a large enterprise.
What’s more, you can realize tremendous business benefits by building and maintaining a strong brand presence. Here’s how.
Promises Made, Promises Kept
As an advisor, your brand is essentially your reputation among clients, prospects and centers of influence—the sum total of other people’s perceptions about you and your practice. You know you have a reputation and you already take steps to manage and protect it so that others will judge you positively.
A brand is no different. Maintaining a great brand (or reputation) as an RIA boils down to a key strategy: making promises and setting expectations, then meeting those expectations day in and day out. By consistently “walking the talk,” you create a personal and professional brand that tells others that they can trust you to do what you say you will do.
A brand built on perceived trustworthiness is a huge differentiator today in the financial services sector. The good news is that independent advisors have done a great job relative to their peers at maintaining trust, as found in the 2010 Schwab Independent Advisor Outlook Study. In the Study, two-thirds of clients who made the wirehouse-to-RIA switch in 2010 said they did so because they thought they would get more personal, customized advice; 58% said they had lost trust in the full-service brokerages that had served them in the past.
If you can continue to deliver on your promises, you can maintain a differentiated brand that could drive even more business your way via referrals.