Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Free WordPress Plugin For The Financial Advisor Content Marketing System

Using our WordPress plugin for financial advisor websites, you can now add The Financial Advisor Content Marketing System to any WordPress website.

If you’re using an up-to-date version of WordPress (3.6 or higher), you can add The Advisor Content Marketing System to your WordPress website for free.

Once you install the WordPress plugin, all of our articles will be available from your website and you’ll also be able to stream financial planning and wealth content to your social networks using a social media dashboard.

Adding our monthly updated content about investing and financial planning and the social news stream to your WordPress website costs $1,337 a year. Adding an inbound marketing lead funnel to advisor websites costs an additional $663 annually.

If the pricing seems complicated, I’m sorry. But if we do not make individual components of The Financial Advisor Content Marketing System available and only sell it as a package, invariably we get requests from advisors who only want only the lead generation module or who only need the articles and videos.

Point is, for $2,000, a financial planner or investment advisor gets all of our very excellent educational wealth management content plus two new inbound marketing lead-generation campaigns quarterly. That’s a pretty amazing deal if you know enough to appreciate it.

By the way, few financial advisors understand the value of the system we’re offering because it is pretty advanced. Most advisors are so caught up in their day-to-day business concerns that they don’t have the attention span to know how powerful this can be. If you made it this far into this post, then you probably know a lot about content marketing and social media and you understand what I am talking about. It’s the real deal. You can call me if you want to plot out a strategy for using this powerful content marketing engine for wealth managers, financial planners, RIAs and other financial advice professionals.

Advisor Website Social Media Dashboard Configuration

Advisor websites become a lead-generation tool when integrated with our Financial Advisor Social Media Content Stream.

Here’s how to configure the social media dashboard for advisor websites with your Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Advisor Products has been making financial advisor websites since 1997, and our focus on providing  content has always differentiated us from other website vendors targeting RIAs and financial planners.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve improved our content by collaborating with the best minds in the financial advice profession, and we have cracked the content marketing problem faced by RIAs and financial planners. How?

In October 2008, I started an advisor education effort that has evolved into an online continuing professional education portal called Advisors4Advisors. A4A produces online educational presentations that a CFP, CIMA, and CPWA can view anytime and receive continuing education credit 24/7 for viewing. (We just were recently approved as CPE credit sponsor for CPAs attending our live webinars.)

Point is, A4A gives financial advice professionals 24/7 access to the best minds in the profession, and then Advisor Products converts their ideas into content that educates clients of advisors. Advisor Products creates articles and videos about financial planning for the ultra-wealthy that get posted to advisor websites, and you can choose which articles appear on your website using the AdvisorSites BackOffice content management system (CMS).

That’s where our social media dashboard for advisor websites comes into play. With every article and video we produce for advisor websites, we create social media status updates that can be personalized by you and scheduled for posting on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. By editing the 140-character we provide you to include your local- and target-market keywords, you improve your search engine results and — more importantly — target your social connections with intelligent financial planning ideas for wealthy families.

The platform costs $2,337 annually and is called AdvisorSites Platinum. If you only want our content and don’t need our secure client portal, website archiving, and service from our technicians,  then you can add our content to your website for just $1,337 annually.

Now for the clincher, the new piece of this content marketing system, which completes the system: a lead-generation module that turns advisor websites into a content marketing machine. The lead generation module provides your social connections with in-depth special reports that visitors to your website must sign in to view. They must sign in by providing you their email address and, if you want, a phone number, to view your special reports.

A Comprehensive Content Marketing System For Advisors

Advisor Products has been producing websites since 1997 and we’ve had to be innovative to survive and thrive as the Web has evolved, but it’s not been easy always. Now, I am happy to report, I think we’ve got social media marketing nailed. Here below is a detailed explanation of what we’re doing along with some context for understanding our solution.

Early Adoption By Advisors. In the first wave of social media adoption by financial advisors, which began about four years ago, BDs led adoption by implementing compliance technology solutions with little regard to content. They flopped, according to executives at several large BDs. In that initial effort, a few social media marketing companies offered proxy software. An advisor would not log in to LinkedIn or Facebook to interact with their network. Instead, you would log into their applications, which were stripped down versions of the social networks. It was impractical because the apps advisors would use worked on desktops but often did not work on all the different mobile browsers, so you could not tweet from your smartphone.

The early solutions came from compliance apps or from companies whose founders were technology experts. They were not experts in financial planning. After selling the BDs on their solutions, these companies realized they were really in the content business. They’ve struggled to produce content. But they don’t know what a defective grantor trust is or why many wealthy individuals are asking judges to bust trusts created just five or 10 years ago. Content marketing, funny enough, depends ultimately on valuable content. Check out the two-minute video below to see a sample of client content for RIAs advising ultra-high net-worth individuals (UHNWIs).

Second Wave of Adoption Brings RIAs. A second wave is now under way in which advisor adoption of social media is driven by content, and now RIAs as well as BDs are adopting social media marketing. RIAs are hiring consultants to produce content, and the BDs are working with compliance technology companies and marketing companies. But based on my conversations with advisors and BD executives, neither of these efforts are working out very well. Why? It’s rare to find a consultant with the skills needed to do the job right.

Effective Content Marketing For Advisors. To produce effective content on the Web for advisors, a consultant must master three unrelated fields:

  1. Writing
  2. Search engine optimization
  3. Financial planning

Finding a writer is easy. Finding a writer who knows about search engine optimization is a bit more difficult. Finding a writer who knows SEO and understands the financial advice business is very difficult.

Meanwhile, advisors are neither writers nor SEO experts. So they have no idea what they’re being sold. Consequently, advisors are often hiring consultants that know a lot about financial planning but little about SEO or SEO consultants that know very little about financial planning. I’m sure most of these consultants are good people who are trying to do their best. But they don’t know what they don’t know. Plus, they’re local. You can often meet with them, and that’s nice. But advisors wind up getting sold on content marketing solutions with big holes strategically or technologically.

Advisors Get Snookered. Where advisors fail in content marketing is because no one wants to read the information they’re sending. Consultants are telling advisors that the only way to succeed in social media is by producing content. Yes, that’s true. You need to create content. But the content can’t be about nonsense. It must be timely and incisive. If you are not creating content people respond to, you’re wasting your time and your prospects’. Everyone is bombarded with a stream filled of unimportant ideas. Adding to the cacophony does not differentiate you. To digress, most writers don’t know financial planning or the financial advice business, and can’t be expected to write about the topics your high-net-worth target clients care about. People who write for a living generally don’t have a lot of money. That’s why they’re called “starving writers!” They’re writing about financial problems they’ve not experienced. They’re probably not reading The Economist every week and they probably don’t know that many investors are currently unhappy because their advisors diversified globally at a moment when the U.S. stock market has outperformed the rest of the world’s regions by a wide margin for several years. On the other hand, if you can fluently provide news for ultra-high-net-worth investors–uncommonly smart educational news content UNHWIs can’t find elsewhere, then you are differentiating yourself. If your writing consultant could provide that kind of content, they would not be a writing blog posts for $100. An advisor I know, who is spending a $2,000 a month on content marketing–more than 10 times what Advisor Products charges for its top content package–told me he knows his content is “crappy.”

Content Need Not Be Original. A big misconception is that you have to create the content or hire a writer to produce valuable content. That’s just not true. Last month’s Journal of Financial Planning contained an article written by a marketing consultant who stated as a fact that “canned” content solutions–a pejorative term for describing content for advisor clients not written by the advisor or private labeled by many advisors–do not work. But she provided no evidence, and she’s wrong. Consultants are biased. Telling advisors that all their content needs to be original supports their business purpose. The consultants get paid to write original content. Or maybe they simply don’t know any better because they’ve bias has prevented them from examining how syndicated content can be a more cost-effective and powerful solution. Who knows what’s in their hearts? But the truth is your clients and prospects don’t care whether you write your own content or link to The Wall Street Journal to give them the valuable ideas they need to know about. Clients and prospects—your social media connections and email subscribers—simply want authoritative, informative, and easy to consume content about wealth management, and don’t care if you write it or not. “Canned” content can be used to accomplish the same goals as hiring a writer who interviews you and writes for you, but at a fraction of the cost.

Tweeting Content You Did Not Write. Some advisors tweet articles written from authoritative publications and that’s an okay way to engage social network connections, but it has a couple of serious flaws. First, linking to articles and videos written by others drives traffic to those publications instead of your website, where you can market to your connections and email newsletter subscribers. Linking to newspapers, magazines, and mutual fund companies can, in fact, undermine your message, if that’s the only content you provide. Newspapers and magazines are in the business of empowering investors to manage their money without an advisor. They’re not written from an advisor’s point of view. And while the finest fund companies, like DFA, might provide excellent content and research, their videos and articles trumpet their products and not your brand. Their materials are also not intended for clients and are produced for advisors.

What Advisor Products Is Doing. Advisors need authoritative, easy-to-consume content trumpeting their brands that reflects their perspective. So Advisor Products creates authoritative content that can be branded by you. We make it effortless for you to use that content to bring your social network connections to your website. Tweeting a link to an article that is authoritative, informative, and easy to read and that is posted to your website is a great way to communicate with prospects and clients–even though the article or video is not produced by you. So Advisor Products has been creating content in collaboration with thought leaders in the profession: Bob Keebler, an expert on estate and income tax planning; Prof. Craig Israelsen, an expert on applying modern portfolio theory to low-expense portfolios, and Fritz Meyer, an economist and investment strategist. Our content is based on in-depth analysis by the best minds in the profession, experts in specific areas of wealth management.

Social Networking Must Be Easy For Advisors. Content marketing using social networks must be very easy or effortless, or the vast majority of advisors won’t do it. Since content marketing is unlikely to bring immediate results, few advisors have the discipline and patience to make the long-term commitment necessary to and put the time into writing articles and posting status updates. I love this stuff and can go for days without offering a tweet when I’m busy. Advisors need to be able to get their names and ideas across to their social media connections with little effort. Most RIAs do not have the staff to devote or the time to tweet, write blog posts, and make videos and slide shows. Most advisors need a system that will be on auto-pilot, where they do almost nothing. We’ve got that.

 

How It Works. FINRA-reviewed articles and videos that we create are in a database that advisors access using the AdvisorSites BackOffice, our own content management system. You simply click on a check box when you want a story to appear on your website. Then, you use our social media dashboard to send out status updates about each articles posted to your website. We build sites on Joomla, an open-source content management system that we’ve integrated with our content distribution systems, and we develop sites on a proprietary .NET content management system for advisors affiliated with BDs and that allows pre-review of content by a compliance department.

Social Media Marketing Integrated And Lead Generation With Advisor Websites. The solution Advisor Products has developed integrates three crucial components in online marketing for advisors: high-value articles and videos about wealth management, status updates, and lead generation. We write and send for FINRA review, three status updates (tweets) for each article or video we produce for your website. The tweets can be posted automatically to appear in your profile and on your social network connections’ news stream on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The tweets link back to the articles on your website. This solution did not come about overnight. It was built incrementally over many years. But now I am happy to report that we have it nailed. I believe we’ve cracked the code for mass personalization of quality content marketing campaigns for advisors to UHNWIs.

Lead generation. “Call to action” graphics on your website invite visitors—your social media connections and email-newsletter subscribers—to download a video, slide show or article and requiring they submit an email address and phone number, which gets emailed to you automatically and becomes a lead. This enables advisors to execute content marketing campaigns. The image directly above shows how call-to-action graphics (CTAs) can be placed on a site. The graphics on every page of your site prominently feature colorful Windows-style tiles linking to special reports for your target market. The uncommon knowledge conveyed in these educational videos generates leads. When you post a tweet about retirement income planning that one of your social connections wants to view, they click on the link in the tweet on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, which takes them to your website. At your site, your visitors see a graphic off to the side or on the bottom of the page that might say, “Special Retirement Income Report,” which they can view by providing their contact information. When visitors to your site click on a call to action graphic, it displays the special report only if they provide their email address and phone. They become leads for you. The snippets from a retirement income special report is embedded at the top of tbs post. Below is another special report about diversification and 2Q13 stock performance.

Personalization. All of components are personalized. The tweets are on your social profile. The articles and videos are on your website under your brand. The special reports are branded to you as well with your logo and firm name and contact information. If you want to do a little bit of work, you can append the status updates we have written with your keywords. For example, we may write a tweet, “10 ways retirement income investing is different in 2014.”  You can append it to say, “10 ways retirement income investing is different in 2014 for doctors in North Carolina.” That will help your search engine rankings is doctors in North Carolina is your target market. You can pick your articles and tweets once a week or once a month in 10 or 15 minutes, append the tweets with your keywords and schedule them to go out on specific days and times. You have a personalized, social media marketing program with some of the best client education content available anywhere.

 

Blog writing. If you want to take things to the next level and invest in writing a blog, then you’re going to have more success with search engine optimization. That is, if you fill your blog with the keywords people are likely to use to search topics you advise on, then you’ll be helping people find you who are looking for solutions you provide. By combining keywords about wealth management niches with local keywords about your community, you increase the likelihood local people will find you. Often the topics are not about estate planning or wealth management. For example, I am working with an advisor now who is located in an area dominated by golf courses and country clubs. So we’re writing posts about the long term cost of golf club membership and listing he annual and up-front cost of the different country clubs in the small towns with the wealthiest residents. If you optimize your website and do not write a blog, your website still needs to be optimized for your keywords and you still need to optimize your title tags, metadata and perform other on-page SEO tasks, but your chances of success in using search engines to enable to find you are much lower than if you post articles with you keywords regularly.

 

Four Ways To Use Fritz Meyer Economic Research In Content Marketing For Advisors

RIA content marketing requires content that long-term investors and financial planning clients value.

The content Advisor Products produces in collaboration with economist Fritz Meyer helps investment advice professionals retain clients by reinforcing a long-term perspective on investing in content updated monthly. By applying a long-term perspective to news affecting the markets currently, we help you do what’s best for clients and your practice. In addition, the content can be used for marketing. We have sophisticated tools for using our content on your website, social networks, and email newsletters, which enables you to generate leads.

Advisor Products now offers four ways for advisors to leverage content from economist Fritz Meyer:


– PowerPoint Slides For DIYers.
You get all of Fritz Meyer’s PPT slides every month–more than 100 slides a month plus a “highlights” version with just 15 slides. You can post some of the slides to your website or use them in client meetings, newsletters, and social media. No voiceover is included. This is for DIYers leveraging Fritz’s research to make their own content. $300 annually.

– Content Marketing System. AdvisorSites Platinum gives you get a turnkey content marketing system for advisor websites that is updated monthly with investment news based on Fritz Meyer’s analysis. Articles, videos and social status updates based Fritz Meyer’s investment ideas are provided for your website along with and Bob Keebler’s financial planning and tax research. Platinum also includes a Social Media Dashboard, website archiving, and much more.

Quarterly Market Summary. Fritz writes a comprehensive 1500- to 2000-word summary about the markets and the economy that is edited by Andrew Gluck and provided as a 10-page Word document and a PowerPoint slide presentation. 

Investment Perspectives Quarterly Videos. A quarterly 15-minute video presentation in which Fritz walks clients through economic events and explains investment performance.

Advisors Are Getting Ripped Off On Crappy Content Marketing And Social Tools

In preparing for a presentation on financial advisor content marketing yesterday, my worst suspicions about how advisors are getting ripped off were proven true.

I began my research by opening up LinkedIn and looking at the stream of news generated by my connections. On LinkedIn, you get a stream of updates about new connections people made, changes to their profiles, and status updates. Status updates are 140-character “tweets” linking your connections to an article, video or other valuable content. The 140-character updates are a standard on social networks and you can send these updates on Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn. I’ve used status updates for years to market my work and have about 2,000 advisor connections–95% of whom connected to me to get my news feed about practice management.

To keep my research honest, I went to the very first status update in my news LinkedIn stream that was posted by an advisor and clicked on it because it had a sexy headline. What unfolded was an absurd proof of how advisors are being ripped off by vendors spewing nonsense about social media and content marketing.

 

 

You Know You’re A DIYer Advisor When…

Advisors who are do-it-yourselfers have been around for years. Becoming an independent advisor — joining a new profession — naturally attracts entrepreneurs, DIYers who like things done their way. However, in observing independent advisors over the past 30years, I have seen the focus of DIYers shift dramatically

Five or 10 years ago, a DIYer-advisor would outsource administrative and perhaps technology tasks. Today, the range of tasks advisors outsource has grown wider, as technology improvements made outsourcing more economical. Today, advisors outsource the writing of financial plans as well as investment research and trading, relying on TAMPs, UMAs and separate account managers.

Today, DIYers focus on marketing.  A growing number of advisors have come to realize that they can more safely outsource their style of investing, financial-plan writing and even tax management, but they cannot outsource creation of their public voice. Consequently, today’s DIYers among advisors are writing blogs, making videos, and creating their own Web marketing campaigns. They suddenly seem to understand the value of communicating about their niches.

They’re suddenly trying to figure out how to regularly talk to a very specific audience. They’re suddenly trying to figure out how to create meaningful Web content focused on their target markets. All this is great news for Advisor Products because our content creation system definitely helps advisors succeed at all this.

What’s incredibly ironic, however, is that the first wealth managers to figure out that a financial advisor content stream can benefit them are DIYers.

Today’s DIYers among advisors are early adopters of content marketing. And in trying to create their own content, they are the first ones outsourcing to content partners. I’ll have more to say about the importance and content role of content partners another time. For now, here’s a short quiz to help you figure out if you’re a DIYer advisor? If you do seven of these 10 things, you’re a DIY advisor.

  1. You write a blog post optimized for search engines at least twice a month
  2. You set up your own channel on YouTube
  3. You own professional video lighting
  4. Your firm reconciles account data daily
  5. You’ve created three Slidecasts or more
  6. You test your backups twice a year
  7. You registered your firm on Google Places
  8. You backup your computer at least weekly
  9. You use Camtasia Studio 8
  10. You host webinars monthly

Creating your own voice by blogging and participating on social media is time consuming and not for everyone. So DIYers have a distinct advantage. If you’re not a DIYer, or if you are a DIYer who wants to augment your voice with intelligent content cleverly packaged in a way for you to make it your own, check out our social media content stream below.

 

AdvisorVault Enhancements Improve Secure Client Portals For Advisors

Several enhancements were made to AdvisorVault last month in response to user requests.

Better Branding. You can now display a full size logo or banner in AdvisorVault that your clients will see. Until now, a size restriction was placed on the size of the graphic. To use a larger graphic in your client vaults, please email us the larger logo at service@advisorproducts.com or call our service team.

Portfolio Reports Folder. You can hide the “Investments” from view of clients and use any name for the folder where you upload reports. Previously, you could only upload portfolio report to certain folders and you could not rename them. Now, you can rename the portfolio reports folder and make the “home” page the folder where your client’s reports are displayed.

Template Emails From Multiple Addresses. AdvisorVault includes a template email communication system for notifying clients automatically in batches of 15 routine advisor business processes. After uploading a performance report or other document, for example, AdvisorVault generates an automatic notification that is personalized to each client. Until now, your firm could use only a single email address with the template notifications—a single advisor’s address would be displayed in the “from” field of emails generated by AdvisorVault’s template notification system. Now, each advisor in your firm can send template notifications in batches and the recipient will see his advisor’s email address in the “from” field of the email.

Simplified Batch Uploading. If you batch upload portfolio performance reports, you can hide from view any folder that you do not use to upload reports.

 

 

When Clients Need You Most, Will You Be There?

Supporting clients during life’s most difficult moments is not just the right thing for a financial advisor to do, it’s a good thing to do. It builds lasting relationships and makes you invaluable.

Advisors who stored clients’ homeowners policies in AdvisorVault were heroes after Hurricane Sandy.

AdvisorVault is not just a client vault, it’s a client communications system created expressly for advisors. AdvisorVault works well with any portfolio reporting and financial planning app, and most CRMs.

Moreover, AdvisorVault comes embedded with business processes that help advisors fulfill their obligations to clients. For instance, AdvisorVault can prompt your clients to upload their homeowners policies, wills, deeds, insurance, and emergency medical information to a secure cloud-based platform on your website. With AdvisorVault, it is easy to send all your clients an email listing all the documents you want them to upload in case of an emergency and a URL where they can log in to upload those documents securely.

When a hurricane or some other disaster occurs in your clients’ lives, be prepared to support them. Be there for clients when they need you most by using AdvisorVault.

Call us at (888) 274 5755.


Advisor Websites, Advisor Portals Met The Test Of Hurricane Sandy

Thank you for your patience and understanding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Nassau County in Long Island, NY, where we are headquartered, was severely impacted. Our office was without power all last week. We worked from a hotel banquet room in Queens.

Fortunately, power was restored over the weekend to our office. Many of our employees, friends, and neighbors are still without power, heat, or hot water, while others have lost their homes or businesses due to flooding by the shores.

In my community, about one of every 15 homes was damaged by a falling tree. Almost every backyard has a fallen tree, and perhaps half of those knocked down power lines or are leaning on them.

It is comforting that our backup and failover facilities worked without any hiccup. Every advisor website, along with 50,000 client vaults, stayed up and available 24 x 7.

The Advisor Products staff prepared for and recovered well from the Sandy disaster, showing dedication and professionalism.

We have been tested by the worst hurricane to hit Long Island since 1938, and we have met the test. We are working hard to continue to provide the highest quality, always-available service.

If we missed your call due to our phone lines being impacted sporadically, please do not hesitate to email us.

We are grateful to the many of you who have expressed concern about the staff and our families.

Regards and we look forward to communicating again about better news soon.

 

Advisor Products Begins Operating Under Disaster Recovery Plan, As Hurricane Sandy Nears Long Island

With Long Island expecting an extended rainstorm from Hurricane Sandy and the worst coastal flooding in seven decades, Advisor Products has taken every precaution necessary to avoid any service disruption to your website, client vaults, and client portals. With the storm expected to hit Long Island in less than 24 hours, our staff has been placed on high alert and the company has begun operating under our disaster recovery plan.

Your Website And Client Portals. Our hosting facility has increased 24/7 onsite technical support and ensured the integrity of backup power generators. In the event of a utility failure, redundant generators are prepared to supply the hosting facility’s load for 24-plus hours, and contracts in place with local fuel providers require same-day delivery if needed, ensuring extended continuity of service.

Internal Systems used by the Advisor Products service team are always “virtual.” If Internet service at our Jericho, NY office is uninterrupted, our VOIP phone system should enable you to reach technical staff as you always would. In the event of an extended power outage at the Jericho office, we’ve “reserved” an empty rack in our data center. A year ago, during Hurricane Irene, a tree fell right behind our office and knocked down power lines to our building, which is home to more than 15 other businesses. We moved internal hardware and software to our hosting facility and staff operated remotely for a week. If we need to relocate mission-critical systems again, our phone system may be down for a couple of hours while  moving  and rebooting systems at the data center.

Service. Jason Gucciardo, a 12-year veteran Web developer at Advisor Products, who also fields  customer-service calls, is located in Florida and available at (516) 333-0066 x230. Nipun Manglik (x214), who is in Las Vegas for his bachelor party and probably will be stuck there for a few days, brought a laptop with him. He will be available Tuesday, and he represents what makes America great. Project managers David Lucs, Kevin Chin, and Donna Voss-Costa, will contact you to reschedule appointments and deadlines for website and newsletter projects in the process of being developed.

Advisors In Sandy’s Path. Just before the storm comes through our area, IT Manager Jason Fogelson will power down equipment housed at the Jericho office to prepare for the possibility of a power outage.  Although internal network servers have backup power supplies, they do not last long and a controlled shutdown eliminates the risk of damage to servers from a sudden shutdown. Advisors may want to take the same precaution. If you’re running Microsoft Exchange, a CRM, portfolio management software or other network software in your office, shut them down tonight or early Monday morning and reboot them after the worst has passed.

Updates Throughout The Storm. Jason Fogelson and Steve Gordonson, VP of Technology, will be providing status updates throughout the storm. Please follow Advisor Products on Twitter to stay updated about service and support.