Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

Flower

The Elephant Wrecking Your Revenues

What did you do today? Did you email your clients links to a blog post written by an economist analyzing the Fed's plans for spending $1 trillion? Did you post a new article on your website about the crisis? Did you snail mail prospective clients a handwritten-note attached to your latest newsletter? Did you schedule an online meeting with a client, prospect, or referral source to go over new opportunities likely to emerge in a recovery?
Every minute you passively watch your firm’s revenue shrink is another moment in which you failed to find a way to grow out of the economic maelstrom.

There's an elephant in the room. It’s the global financial crisis.

If your firm's website looks exactly the same as it did before the crisis, then you're acting like there is no elephant.

When a prospect comes to your site, he's going to wonder why you're acting like there's no elephant in the room.

If you’re not constantly addressing the massive shifts in the economy with clients, prospects, and referral sources, then you're blowing the chance to bring in new clients and recoup losses on your asset-management fees.

If you're not actively communicating with people now about events in the global economy, then you're missing opportunities.

If you are not moving toward a more transparent relationship with clients, then you are not changing with the times and will be left behind. You will be crushed by the elephant.

At Advisor Products, where we make websites, newsletters, brochures and other marketing materials, we’ve seen larger RIAs spend more on custom marketing websites since the crisis exploded in October. We’re setting up one or two firms each week on our Client Portal system, the most advanced system available to help advisors communicate with clients.

It's generally larger RIAs that are upgrading to more sophistciated products, and Advisor Products has experienced strong sales growth since the crisis began. Independent advisory firms that were strong before the crisis seem likely to emerge as even stronger competitors after the crisis.

Advisor Products is seeing a big increase in adoption of our vault for advisor clients. AdvisorVault is built on a Microsoft SharePoint platform and allows advisors and clients to drag and drop documents from their desktop to a virtual drive. It offers many features that, as far as I know, are unavailable on any other vault for advisor clients, and AdvisorVault is integrated with the two leading desktop software applications. It makes client relationships "stickier," something advisors need right now.

While Advisor Products has experienced growth in the adoption of email newsletters as well as high website tools, we’re also seeing some advisory fims discontinue subscriptions on hard-copy newsletters. I think discontinuing any form of client communication right now is a bad idea. Sending fewer messages to clients right now sends a bad message. This is a time to increase–not cut–client communications if you hope to quickly reverse damage done to your bottom line by the market meltdown.

To once again thrive after the economy stabilizes, advisory firms must change their marketing message to target prospective clients who are more fearful than they were ever before. These are people who will be much less trusting and you must direclty address the new mindset.

Another big change in the way you market and communicate with clients is that educating people is much more important.

In the bull markets of the past 30 years, when 10% annual retuns were normal, advisors were told by some "experts" that clients did not want to be educated. These experts said clients wanted you to handle all the details and would be bored any effort to try to explain strategies and educate them about what you are doing with their money. That was condescending nonsense then and it is clearly nonsense now.

In the new era we have just entered, educating clients is more more important than ever. Clients will insist on understanding every detail of what you are doing with their money.

You're going to need financial content that explains the details about your strategies to attract prospects and show your transparent style of comunication. To see what I'm talking about, take a look at four of the 17 articles Advisor Products made available for use on advisor websites and newsletters since March 1.

With the giant Wall Street firms mortally and morally wounded, now is the time for independent advisors to seize the opportunity. Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Smith Barney and the other giants of Wall Street ruined by losses on the mortgage debt crisis have demonstrated to the world that they cannot manage their own money. So why will people trust them with theirs?

Investors have been too shell-shocked to move from the brokerage giants that have always dominated delivery of personal financial services. But as the economy continues to stabilize in coming months, money will be in motion. Research shows that the vast majority of investors are planning to move their money and find new advisors. If you don't get your message out, you will miss the opportunity of your lifetime to expand your client base.

Tomorrow, Friday, March 20, at 4 p.m. EST, Jerry Lezynski, the Director of Marketing SEI Investments, which manages more than $25 billion in turnkey asset management solutions used by 6,500 independent advisors, speaks at the Financial Crisis Webinar Series about how you can market your advisory firm to make the most of the situation. Join us.

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