The Department of Labor’s Conflict of Interest rule (more commonly known as the fiduciary rule) shook the industry. According to Fidelity’s survey, “Expectations of Upcoming DOL Ruling,” 73% of advisors are concerned the rule will have an adverse effect on how they do business. As a result, many advisory firms are re-evaluating their service models, the products they offer, and how they conduct business.
Concerned advisors may not yet have evaluated how this affects their marketing. For one, this new rule coincides with what research reveals are investors’ greatest need in an advisor. According to a Hearts & Wallets study, many affluent investors would only hire an advisor with a fiduciary responsibility.
Regardless of their age or income, people need to trust their advisor. You can tap into this desire — a financial professional they can trust to serve in a fiduciary capacity and put their best interests first — through your marketing.
Be Present Online
Countless studies show there’s a high correlation between consumer trust and a business’s online presence. On average, 70% of people would not do business with a company if their website has an outdated or unappealing design, and two-thirds of business owners said that the design of their website was more critical to their business’ success than the physical location of their business. Another study reveals that 80% of people judge the credibility of a company by its website design.
Why? Because we all judge books by their covers and, in the internet age, we are constantly reminded of the countless scams that exist online. Consumers immediately distrust an outdated website (or lack thereof) and assume the business is either unsuccessful or a scam. Along with an updated and mobile-responsive website, you should also include links to your social media pages. You don’t have to be on every social media platform available, but if your broker-dealer allows it, you should at least have a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook business page, either for you as an advisor or your firm.
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you online. Remember, even if your business is primarily referral-based, nine out of 10 prospects referred to you by their family or friends will Google your firm’s name and check out your website before they decide whether to make an appointment. If they can’t find you online, there’s a good chance they won’t give you a call.
Be Transparent Online
The five most important pages on a website (and the ones that most site visitors look at) are the homepage, about page, services page, contact page and blog. Give these pages the most attention and be open about who you are, what you do and how you work. With something as personal as financial planning and investing, people want to know who you are before they partner with you. Share the story of why you became an advisor, what the goals of your firm are, the types of clients you serve and your service specialties. Don’t forget to include a few images, including your headshot and a picture of your team and office. These pages are your opportunity to prove your legitimacy and share why a client should choose you over the competition.
With the new DoL fiduciary ruling, this is an ideal time to highlight your fiduciary responsibilities, particularly if you’re an Accredited Investment Fiduciary or hold another designation that exemplifies your commitment to upholding high ethical standards.
Along with website pages, a blog is where you can share more frequent updates regarding current news, or dive deep into a particular topic. If you weren’t blogging before, this heavy industry focus on fiduciary standards and transparency makes a blog an essential piece of your marketing. Eighty-one percent of U.S. consumers trust advice and information on blogs, and 61% have made a purchase based on a blog post. By blogging regularly, clients, prospects and referrals will see that you are knowledgeable in your industry and a trustworthy authority in financial planning that provides valuable information.
Create and distribute posts on various elements of your firm to show how transparent you are in your actions. Discuss how you’re paid, how you find new business, why you encourage referrals, what it means to be an independent advisor, and how you choose investment products or build a financial plan. The more insight you can provide, the more likely an internet user and prospective client is to engage with your firm.
Be Active Online
Make sure you’re frequently connecting with prospects and clients through the two other leading marketing platforms: social media and email. Whenever you publish a new blog post, send it out to your contacts through email and share it on social media. Studies show that client satisfaction and referrals are highest when an advisor “touches” a client 12 to 18 times per year. Monthly email newsletters and regular social media posts (at least three times a week) are great ways to stay in touch with clients and increase your referability.
There’s no longer an excuse for not having the time. Find a marketing provider for financial advisors that automatically posts educational content on social media and send email newsletters that are reviewed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and approved by your compliance department. Use an automation platform to manage 75% of your ongoing marketing tasks and make the time in your schedule (or enlist your assistant) to implement the other 25% manually, including sharing personal posts on social media, writing blogs, and networking on LinkedIn and other professional forums.
During significant industry changes such as the fiduciary rule, it’s easy for you to put your marketing on hold as you readdress your business model, but avoid doing this. Your marketing is a critical part of gaining new business and retaining clients. As the industry evolves, so should your marketing. With this newest adjustment, take the time to re-evaluate your online presence, dust off your website, and show clients and prospects you fulfill their needs in an advisor.