How do you build trust?

In last month’s newsletter, I shared the key results of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2015, in which we saw continuing challenges for the financial services industry in relation to trust. However we also saw that trust in the financial services industry is growing faster than any other sector so the graph is definitely moving in the right direction!

I got a lot of feedback in relation to this article, thanks for all your likes and comments – much appreciated as ever. A few people asked me what financial brokers should do to build trust. So here goes! Here are a few ways that I think really help to build trust.

Communicate what you do

One of the most important ways to build trust is by communicating really clearly with clients about what you do. Many people don’t really know what a financial broker does and how they actually work with you. You can give huge levels of comfort by walking the client through your advice process in detail, showing them what to expect and the value that you will add. This will help to remove any doubts in their mind.

Provide client testimonials

Seek these out continually, they are really important. In my book, you need to seek permission to use the client’s actual name (and logo if a company). Testimonials from “John H, Dublin” don’t really count – in fact someone might suspect they are made up! Genuine client testimonials are really powerful – who can advocate for you better than people who you’ve helped in the past, whose lives you have potentially changed?

Seek recommendations on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a really important platform for financial brokers; it’s where many prospective clients will check you out before picking up the phone to you. After all, when you Google your name, the chances are that your LinkedIn profile will appear high up the search results. Recommendations from clients on your LinkedIn profile are a very powerful endorsement of your services, so look for these at every opportunity. They are great trust builders. LinkedIn endorsements (the little pictures beside your skills) are useful too, but to be honest add limited value as they are so easily gained.

Presence in mainstream press

Some advisers have built up great profiles by regularly appearing in “Opinion” columns in national newspapers and some even building positions as regular commentators on TV and radio. These are great for building trust, as they demonstrate your industry knowledge and authenticity as a voice worth listening too.

Your qualifications

Sounds simple? If I was a CFP, I’d tell everyone at every opportunity! Why not advertise the fact that you are part of a highly qualified cohort? Prospective clients will value the fact that you are investing in yourself and are willing to learn to stay at the frontier of providing financial advice. I’m working with a financial broker at the moment who is a CFP and studying for his tax exams as we speak. Now apart from that being a really powerful proposition for clients, it will also hugely help him to achieve high levels of trust among clients.

There are of course many more ways of building trust; advertising awards that you win, communicating your opinions with your clients via newsletters and being active on social media. Hopefully the ideas above will give you a few pointers as to how you can continue to build trust with your clients and prospective clients.

Do Financial Brokers need to bother with Social Media?

Social media. Most people either love it or hate it! For some people, it has become a new way of interacting with friends, strangers, clients and potential clients. For others, it’s a lot of noise, impersonal and a poor replacement for the old ways of engaging with people.

So where does this leave financial brokers? Do they need to bother with social media? In short, I believe that the answer is a definite Yes. In fact I’d go further and say that it’s just not optional any more, for a number of reasons.

Prospective client research

Googling potential providers of any service has become an every day precursor to picking up the phone to that provider. The user will Google the name and check the results. This will bring them to the service provider’s website. However if a professional services provider (such as a financial broker) is being checked out, a LinkedIn profile will also be expected.

If you’re not on LinkedIn, what does this say about you? To many people, it shows a lack of professionalism, not having your finger on the pulse. Equally damaging is having a very poor presence on LinkedIn. A badly created profile, with a very small number of connections hardly sends out the message that you are the best provider in town to meet the needs of a potential client.

Getting people to your website

It’s all well and good having a great website, however you’ve got to ensure that people actually get to visit it and see your content. And this is where social media plays such an important role. Social media is a great channel to get your content out to your LinkedIn connections and your Twitter followers. And of course if any of your network interact with your content by liking it or sharing it themselves, your content then is highlighted to a whole new network of contacts, leading these people back to your website where they hopefully will learn all about you!

And then of course there are LinkedIn Groups, where you can post your content and access a whole load of people who are outside your own connections.

Helping your search engine results

Over the last number of years, social media has played an increasing role in search engine results. While of course it remains very important to have your website pages set up correctly, with well written content featuring your chosen keywords, that on its own is not enough. Fresh, original content that is endorsed by other people earns a lot of brownie points with Google and helps push your site up the search results. And it’s via social media that this happens – when you share your content and others then interact with it.

Providing great insights

Another benefit of social media is the insights that you can get. You can a real sense of whether your content is of interest to people, and more importantly, who is actually finding it interesting. As people, like, comment upon or share your content, you learn who is reading and finding your content of interest, in a way that no other medium (except email marketing) will deliver.

The benefits of social media are huge and can’t be ignored by financial brokers. Embrace it, it offers so many opportunities and is not going away!