Having trouble getting enough new clients?

It’s an ongoing challenge for most financial brokers… having a steady stream of new clients. This is one of the most common challenges that I’m asked about when working with advice firms. What’s also interesting is that for those firms that don’t have this problem, there tends to be a common theme.

The theme is that the new clients are coming from referrals from existing clients. While this is great and is obviously an endorsement of the quality of your proposition, a concern for me is that it is a very passive way of getting new clients. I believe that financial brokers also need some more proactive strategies for attracting new clients, in case those referrals dry up in the future. Here are a few thoughts on taking a more proactive approach:

Make sure your website is fit for purpose

This one links back to those referrals… To keep this stream of new clients going, your website will play an increasingly important role as more and more people will check you out online before contacting you. Yes potential clients will continue to listen to their family and friends in their search for a good financial broker, but they are increasingly likely to also Google you before making contact. So make sure your website is up to scratch.

Content Marketing is key

It is hard work but producing (or having produced for you) a regular stream of content that educates and engages clients plays a number of roles. First of all, producing and then sharing the content via an email newsletter or social media enables you to stay front and centre in the mind of your clients throughout the year. However it’s also a great way to demonstrate your value to prospective clients – and you do this by posting the content on your website, building your social media following and sharing your content out. LinkedIn and Twitter in particular offer great opportunities to connect with people that you may otherwise never get the opportunity to interact with.

Stand out in Google search results

Appearing near the top of Google search results, when potential clients search for a term such as “financial broker” is obviously a great position to be in! However, you need to know that these positions are hard earned, and the results are based on quite a number of factors. First of all among these, your website pages need to be set up correctly, with the correct structure of pages used and the pages referenced properly. Of course the particular keywords need to appear in the pages too! However over the last few years, Google have given a lot of recognition to websites that display lots of new and relevant content that in turn is deemed credible, achieved by other people sharing and endorsing your content via social media.

So Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can yield very valuable results, but be prepared to put in a lot of hard yards first!

Stand in the traffic if you want to get knocked down

Networking is a skill that many financial brokers are exceptional at. It is such a valuable skill to have the confidence and ability to walk into a room of strangers, “work” the room and strike up relevant conversations with potential clients.

For others, this is a real chore. But it’s a necessary one… It’s a recurring outcome of our industry that the more people you meet and talk to, the more new clients you get.

Financial Broker list

Initiatives run by networks and representative bodies are really valuable too, particularly ones such as the Financial Broker network, where there is investment in building the brand and in lead generation for members. Apart from potentially bringing new clients to your door, being part of these initiatives demonstrates a greater involvement in the industry that in turn increases your credibility in the eyes of prospective clients.

Partnerships

Building valued partnerships also is a great way of developing new client relationships. The partnerships that work best are exactly that – a partnership, rather than simply knowing someone who might introduce new clients to you. Partnerships mean both you and the partner (usually an accountant) working together for the benefit of both of your businesses. This might be through joint communications, co-hosted seminars etc. This is a far better approach than passively hoping for a few leads to emerge from the introducer.

What are the main routes that you use to attract new clients to your business? All comments are welcome below!

Do your clients really trust you?

Trust. It sits at the heart of a financial broker’s business. It’s that magic ingredient that you can’t survive without, but unfortunately you can’t just go out and buy it, or even simply ask for it! It can only be earned by what you do, and by what other people say about you.

Trust in business is falling…

Every year, I review the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual, highly credible review of trust that has been carried out for 15 years now and across 27 different countries. They look at trust in each of the countries (one being Ireland) and examine trust across different sectors and industries.

In the chart below, we can see that trust in business in Ireland generally is falling, from 41% in 2014 to 38% in 2015.

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What’s the situation in relation to Financial Services?

Well the picture is both good and bad! First of all, financial services remains as the 2nd least trusted industry, with only the banks lagging behind. However the good news is that trust in financial services jumped by a full 10% of the surveyed population (from 20% in 2015 to 30% in 2015). As can be seen from the graph below, this represents the single largest increase in trust of any industry in Ireland over the last 12 months.

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This is seriously good news for the industry and one in which financial brokers have played an important part. Delivering real financial planning, a much more client focused approach and advising on better quality products have all played their part in this. This is confirmed by the graph below which demonstrates the high trust in Ireland in family / SME businesses as opposed to state owned and “big” businesses.

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“But my clients DO trust me” I hear you say!

And I’ve no doubt that your clients do trust you… or else they wouldn’t stay with you. However the challenge is about appealing to all those people out there who are sceptical of the financial services industry, and potentially of financial brokers. How do you appeal to them?

It all starts with having a clear and compelling client value proposition, which is a clear, concise and compelling articulation of how the factors that are important to the customer are satisfied by you.

The What, How and Why of your business

To start to build a positive picture, leading to confidence in your ability in the eyes of prospective clients and ultimately to building trust, it’s worth considering the lessons of Simon Sinek, the famous author of “Start with Why”. Yes you need to be able to clearly define initially what it is that you do, so that clients can see the outcomes that they can expect. You then need to be able to communicate this effectively to clients. However it is difficult as a financial broker to stand apart from the crowd, in terms of what you do, as many of you deliver similar services.

However when you can set out in an engaging way how you work with clients, now you’re starting to get somewhere! When you are able to demonstrate the processes that you use, how you deliver advice, how you will serve your clients throughout their financial lifetimes; you are now in a strong position to start building durable trusted relationships. Potential clients will take a lot of comfort from understanding what they can expect from you, and this comfort in working with you will enhance their trust.

The real magic though in building trust is when you can clearly (and of course credibly!) communicate why you do what you do.  This will demonstrate your real reasons for being a financial broker, your passion for what you do and ultimately your desires to deliver a really top quality proposition to your clients. And when you can communicate this effectively, this will build trust like nothing else.