Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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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.

SEO For Financial Advisors Works, And Here’s Proof

Here’s what the Debbie Hooge of  Vantage Advisors LLC says about SEO For Financial Advisors From Advisor Products:

In 2012 our company, after several years of frustration that our website never showed up on searches of the internet until the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google, we decided to hire Advisor Products to give our site a new look.Our previous website had cost us over $10,000 just a few years earlier.

While we were frustrated about incurring more expenses in such a short time, we knew we needed to get serious about SEO. We hired Advisor Products to do our SEO and redesign our site. As the marketing director for the firm, I was facing a lot of skepticism from the other advisors, but I persevered.

Like a lot of creative processes; the website wasn’t created overnight. The Advisor Products team worked closely with us and were very sensitive to blending their ideas with ours.

In the end, we are now on the first page of Google for our area, and our clients can actually find us. In addition, we are getting very positive feedback about the e-newsletter, calculators, and blog now associated with our website.

I could go on and on about things, like the ease of editing, the customer service, etc. But maybe the best thing I can say is that the cost benefit ratio of investing in a new website with Advisors Products is extremely positive and continues to get better.

SEO Copywriting For Financial Advisors from Advisor Products is a low cost way for advisors to improve their search  engine ranking. It is the product of years of experience in website design for advisors.

With so many snake oil salesman and ripoff artists now competing with us to build advisor websites, I am seeing advisors get sold  inexpensive sites that won’t get them noticed and no content marketing features, and I am also seeing instances where advisors pay thousands for razzle-dazzle and nonsense. I am proud of the skilled team here at Advisor Products, the integrity we have maintained as competition has increased, and we remain committed  to make advisors who work with us successful at the lowest prices around.

An Easy Social Media Solution For Advisors That Really Works: Revolutionary Social Media Content Tool For Advisors Launched By Advisor Products

Many advisors don’t know how to use social media for marketing or are too busy to use it effectively. Social Media Content Stream For Financial Advisors, which was just released by Advisor Products, enables use of social media successfully with minimal effort by advisors and at a low cost.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors automatically posts status updates (also called “tweets”) to you or your company’s social network pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

The 140-character status updates contain links to wealth management articles and videos created by Advisor Products and posted to an advisor’s website. Articles and videos by Advisor Products cover financial news for high-net worth individuals. The tweets, articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed.

When your social network connections see a status update from you in which they’re interested, they click on a link in the tweet, which takes them to your website to read the article or view the video.

Feedback from the 10 advisors participating in a three-month beta test has been outstanding. One firm provided Google Analytics data showing as much as a 500% increase in traffic to its website.

The key is that this solution is incredibly easy to use and provides clients and prospects with valuable wealth management ideas.

If you’re trying figure out how to benefit from social media marketing, this is the perfect solution.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is administered using a social media dashboard. The dashboard lets you schedule your updates. Once a week or once a month, you can schedule all your updates.

In addition, you can rewrite tweets and target them to your local market or niches, which will help boost your search engine rankings. If that’s too much work, simply set the stream to go out automatically.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is free for Platinum licensees and has already been enabled on your website. Simply log in to the Advisor Products BackOffice and hit the

You can add archiving of all your social media content for $348 annually by taking advantage of our partnership with Erado.

 

 

Is It Realistic For Advisors To Expect To Benefit From Social Media?

Despite all the hubbub about social media for advisors, adoption is slow and its effectiveness remains questionable. Obstacles to success are formidable.

Compliance. RIAs must archive social content. Signing up and setup a compliance app to capture your social media content is an expense — albeit a small one — and takes time.

Knowledge. Many advisors do not know what a status update is. They have no experience with building a network of connections and followers.

Content. Advisors don’t know what to say. It’s like putting a microphone in front of someone in a crowded room and telling them to say something smart.

Discipline. Social media is not an activity you can do once a month and expect results. It’s like drip marketing and you need to drip on people daily or every other day.

Strategy. Most advisors don’t have a well-defined target market, so they wind up posting about content not aligned with any particular strategy.

Snake Oil. Since advisors are naïve about using social media, they are getting sold solutions that sound good but don’t deliver.

I’m happy to report that Advisor Products has a solution. It’s easy, low-cost, and effective.

We’ve added a social media dashboard to our platform. In seconds, you can send a “tweet” (status update) to all your friends and connections on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

For years, we’ve been producing content for advisors, articles about wealth management, and it’s pretty widely known that our content is the best coverage of issues for high-net-worth individuals available to advisors. In the last couple of years, we’ve partnered with tax expert Bob Keebler and economist Fritz Meyer to make our content even more substantive and authoritative. With the social media dashboard, we’ve made it incredibly easy for advisors to provide status updates that link to their websites.

You can personalize each tweet with keywords aimed at your target audience, which will help you with search engine optimization. In about 10 minutes, you can schedule a tweet a day for the next week.

One advisor who has been a beta tester showed us Google Analytics statistics showing visits to his website shoot up between 100% and 500% when tweeting our content.

By placing a special “free” report about wealth management on your website, you can convert visitors to your site into prospects and some will become real clients. Plus, tweeting to your clients about wealth management keeps you in touch with them. We’ve partnered with Erado Message Control to enable you to archive your social media accounts inexpensively.

The social media dashboard is a realistic way for advisors to benefit from social media. The social media content stream for financial advisors is a realistic and effective way to get started with social media.

The social media dashboard is going live on all Platinum sites in the next couple of days. Call 888-274-5755 if you would like a demo.

In His Own Words: Financial Advisor Philip Benson On Implementation Of AdvisorVault For PortfolioCenter Reporting And Secure Client Portals

On June 1, 2012, Philip Benson Financial Services, an investment management and financial planning firm in San Francisco, purchased AdvisorVault’s integrated PortfolioCenter application from Advisor Products. AdvisorVault is a secure client portal system and can batch process PortfolioCenter reports. Within three months, Benson was successfully using the integrated application to deliver quarterly performance reports and invoices to clients securely, saving the firm time and money.

Philip Benson, 64, who spent three years at Merrill Lynch before giving up his securities sales licenses in 2003 and founding his fee-only fiduciary firm, explains his firm’s successful implementation of AdvisorVault as a secure client portal, in his own words below.

Why
We manage portfolios for 40 families — their investable assets and their children’s 529 college savings plans — and we do financial planning for most of them. I do the investment management and the financial planning along with the help of my associate. We needed to become more efficient. We did not want to raise our fees in this economy. I concluded the solution was not hiring more staff but maximizing technology. Each quarter, we both spent about a day and a half printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing the reports. It was obvious we could benefit from electronically uploading invoices and quarterly reports to a secure vault.

Research
I looked at several solutions, some of which were less expensive than Advisor Products. But AdvisorVault is keyed into financial services and Advisor Products has a relationship with Schwab Performance Technologies allowing it to provide bulk-upload features. Plus, your product has been offered for several years.

Adoption
Our project manager, Kevin Chin, suggested that, rather than sending out one mass email to all of our clients, we launch 10 clients at a time and follow up with calls to each of them when needed. That was a great approach. Out of 40 clients, only three have not signed up.

Personalized
We deduct the fees from most client accounts, but some prefer to write the check every quarter. We were able to personalize emails using AdvisorVault’s communication module for both types of billing situations. The beautiful thing is your developers make it look like the emails are coming from us directly.

Service
When I did my due diligence, I heard Advisor Products had a good product but that we might not be able to get as much support as one might want. That was absolutely not the case; it could not have been further from the truth. We got all the support we needed. And we are the type of client who may request a lot of support in the beginning and then we tend to sail on our own until something comes up when we need additional support.

Relationships
I don’t want AdvisorVault to distance me from clients. I want technology to help me stay in contact with clients and free me to build new business.  If only 75% of clients log in to look at their reports, I send an email asking the other 25% who have not logged in to ask if they need any help. When I mailed out paper statements, we did not know who was opening the envelopes. Now, I can reach out to those clients who had not reviewed their reports.

Efficiency
We were burning paper, ink and time. We were combining different documents into PDFs in preparation for printing. There was a lot of manual labor involved. The AdvisorVault piece that previously took a day and half every quarter takes about an hour now, plus we’re not spending on paper, ink, and postage.

Growth
Thus far, we haven’t done any marketing. I’ve never made an outbound cold call and all new business comes from referrals. We’ve been focused on taking care of our clients and building a solid infrastructure. We will be ready to engage in marketing and business development soon. Technology will enable us to have more free time to do this.

 

For more information about AdvisorVault, please call 516 333 0066 x224.