Traditionally in the financial services world, services offering “lead generation” for advisors were used to deliver prospects who might want to buy a particular financial services product—not necessarily people who were looking for advice. For consumers who wanted to actually find a real advisor, the primary option was to seek one out through the financial planning membership associations.
In recent years, though, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of platforms providing prospective clients for financial planners, following a wide range of business models, from a “registry” of qualified planners to choose from, to companies that give away some basic planning for free in the hopes of drawing some prospects in to go deeper, to advisor review sites.
While many remain skeptical about the value of such services, the reality is that the process of “sales” –converting a prospective client into an actual client–is very specific to an individual firm and its advisors, but the process of “prospecting” to find prospective clients is a marketing function that really is much more conducive to size and scale.
Thus, while not all the companies competing in this space will be winners—many will likely be gone in a few years—it appears that outsourcing prospecting may be an emerging trend as yet another way for some financial planning firms to get more efficient and grow, especially for firms that don’t yet have the size and scale to effectively market themselves.
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Lead Generation for Financial Planners
For many years, the primarysource of “financial planning leads” has been the membership associations, as both NAPFA and the FPA have had consumer-oriented “Find A Planner” services that deliver prospects interested in financial planning to members. More recently, the CFP Board itself has also ramped up its efforts with its new “Let’s Make A Plan” website tied to the new public awareness campaign for the CFP marks and funded with an increase in the recertification fee.
To the extent that any other services provided prospective clients to financial advisors, they tended to be focused on particular products that advisors might deliver, rather than seeking out prospects who were interested in advice.