Identifying the gaps: Where financial adviser marketing efforts miss the mark

In the competitive world of providing financial advice, effective marketing can be the dividing line between a flourishing business and one that struggles to attract and retain clients. Despite best efforts, many financial advisers find their marketing strategies failing to deliver expected results. Here’s a look at the crucial areas that could be falling short and how to remedy them.

 

Know who you are trying to reach

The first potential pitfall in your marketing strategy is not having a clearly defined target audience. Without a specific demographic in mind, your messaging can become too broad or generic, failing to resonate with the people you’re most equipped to help. The key is to clarify the persona of your bullseye target, to consider the unique needs of your ideal client — be it business owners, retirees, young professionals, or high-net-worth individuals. Then you need to tailor your communication to address their specific concerns, goals, and financial situations.

 

Know what you’re trying to communicate

Once you know your audience, the next step is to clarify your message. What exactly are you trying to communicate to your prospective clients? Your marketing should underscore your unique value proposition — what sets you apart from other advisers. This could be your bespoke approach to financial planning, your expertise in a particular investment strategy, or your commitment to personal service. Your message should be concise, compelling, and consistently woven through all your marketing materials.

 

Identify the right channels to use

Selecting appropriate marketing channels is paramount. If it’s business owners you’re trying to attract, maybe business networks such as your local Chamber of Commerce or business forums are the place to be. Or are you trying to reach new clients through introducers such as accountants, solicitors or tax consultants? Or is most of your marketing effort going to be carried out online?

The platforms you choose to disseminate your message should align with where your target audience is most active and engaged. For millennials and Gen Z, this might be social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter. Again, if it’s predominately business owners you’re targeting, then LinkedIn, news publications or even traditional media like newspapers could be more effective. It’s essential to be seen where your audience goes.

 

Make sure your content is excellent

Quality content is non-negotiable. Regardless of the channel, your content needs to be informative, engaging, and relevant to your audience’s needs. This means providing value through financial tips, insights into market trends, or guidance on common financial concerns. Content that educates and informs, rather than just sells, will establish you as a thought leader and build trust with your audience. Invest in good design and clear, jargon-free language to make your content accessible and professional.

 

Know what result you’re looking to achieve

Without a clear understanding of your marketing objectives, you won’t be able to measure success or identify areas for improvement. Are you trying to generate leads, increase website traffic, or improve client retention? Each goal requires a different approach and metric for tracking progress. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals to focus your efforts and help you assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

 

Identify the right follow-up activities

Finally, the follow-up is where many marketing strategies fall flat. Engaging potential clients is just the first step; you must have a system in place for following up on leads. This could involve a series of personalised emails, a phone call, or setting up a face-to-face meeting. The follow-up should be timely and reflective of the interest shown by the prospective client. Neglecting this critical step can result in lost opportunities and a waste of your marketing efforts.

In conclusion, a marketing strategy that isn’t aligned with your practice’s goals and your clients’ needs is bound to fall short. By knowing your audience, communicating a clear message, selecting the right channels, creating quality content, setting clear objectives, and executing diligent follow-up activities, you can ensure that your marketing efforts contribute to the growth and success of your financial advice business. Remember, effective marketing isn’t just about reaching people; it’s about connecting with them, educating them, and building relationships that last.

Happy with your hybrid planning model?

Ever since the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about hybrid planning models, and the truth is that they probably mean different things to different advisers. So, here’s my tuppence worth on them…

To my mind, a hybrid planning model is one where the best traditional financial planning practices are supplemented by a digital proposition that further adds value to the adviser / client relationship and ultimately supports the achievement of better client outcomes. Here are some elements that will go a long way to creating an effective, hybrid financial planning model.

 

Remote as well as in-person meetings

This is the obvious first step, and a straightforward one with the experience of the last few years. Advisers now recognise that every interaction with a client doesn’t need to be a physical, in-person meeting. Instead, a client who previously may have been met in person three of four times a year, now might only require a single in-person meeting, supplemented by several remote meetings. This saves valuable time for everyone and facilitates more flexibility around meetings – it’s a lot easier to “jump on to a Zoom call” than having to “jump into the car” and then sit in traffic… This one is a win-win for both the adviser and the client, who is now also very accustomed to and in many cases prefer effective digital meetings.

 

Online data gathering

Many advisers are now having more effective meetings with clients, by utilising a range of tools that can be deployed before a planning meeting. Rather than starting a planning meeting with a blank page, clients are requested to complete some or all of an online factfind, a risk profiling questionnaire, an expenditure questionnaire and maybe an engagement letter with the adviser in advance of the meeting. These are enabling better preparation for the meeting and a much richer client experience. A by-product of requesting this information is that advisers find that it removes “tyre kickers” – clients who give the time to providing this information are committed to the process.

 

Online supporting material

I’m aware of some advisers who have gone to significant efforts to provide excellent guidance to clients across a broad range of technical subjects – maybe business exit planning, estate planning or other such areas. Their thinking is that a better-informed client results in more engaging and valuable conversations at the actual meetings. This in no way negates the need for or value of the advice ultimately given, as a technical guide on a particular subject cannot take account of a client’s own individual circumstances or cannot consider the full range of appropriate solutions to be considered. Apart from the value clients get from such whitepapers or expert guides, this supporting material demonstrates a firm’s commitment to adding value, and also demonstrates their self-confidence in their expertise.

 

Online collaborative tools

We’ve also seen the emergence of tools that support collaboration at planning meetings. Good planning meetings are never lectures, with the adviser as the teacher! Instead they are two parties considering together a range of objectives, strategies and approaches, with “What If” questions frequently arising and being considered. Future cashflow planning software is very visual and really supports collaboration and discussion at meetings. Indeed with some of the tools, clients can use the tool and consider scenarios themselves, outside the confines of a meeting.

 

Leveraging the wider team

With this greater level of engagement and interaction, this does not have to mean that the Principal of the business or a senior adviser needs to be involved at every single touchpoint. The opportunity now exists to move some of the interactions towards a paraplanner or support person, who can work with the client through some of the interactions. Broadening the relationship beyond a single point of contact – the adviser – makes for a better client experience, removes risk in the business of an adviser leaving or being ill… and spreads the workload.

So, are you up happy with your new hybrid planning model? If developed carefully, it will add a lot of value to both your business and your clients, but like anything there is a cost involved. The challenge in this case is your capability to deliver effective remote meetings, and your ability to really understand and fully utilise the technology that you are using. For example, your hybrid model will start falling apart if you get tripped up every time you try to change something in your client’s future cashflow plan. So, the cost is a time commitment from you to fully understand and be confident in your use of the financial planning tools that you are deploying.

The benefits though really outweigh these costs.