Great leaders achieve great things

…and great financial planners achieve great outcomes for clients.

As the awful and unnecessary situation in Ukraine continues to unfold each day, most Ukrainians and other observers have been hugely impressed with the leadership qualities of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine. Wars are won and lost by clever leaders. Irrespective of the external factors that actually caused the war, they never just wander into it and start fighting. Instead they carefully consider all of the external factors that will impact their success – the strength and equipment of their enemies, the conditions and terrain on which the war will be fought as well as the weather and other factors that have the potential of impacting their success in the fight. We’ve seen in Ukraine the power of good communication and engagement with allies and friendly countries.

Of course the key factor that they consider is the strength and capability of their own forces; the size of their army, the weapons available to them and the different tactics that can be deployed. In short they take a very strategic approach to the battle. Generals also know that battle conditions are an ever-moving feast – things just don’t stay the same. The battle conditions change, the strength of their own army and that of their enemy change and of course progress towards their overall goals either improve or recede. As part of this, they consider the risk attaching to different tactical options open to them – do they risk lots of men and equipment for a particular short-term strategic objective, or do they wear down their enemy through sustained and slower-moving fighting?

This is where their real expertise comes to bear, adapting to changing conditions. This is also where disastrous mistakes are made – I’m showing my age here, but just consider the decision taken by the German generals in World War II who decided in the Battle of Britain to stop bombing airfields and instead to start bombing cities. This gave the Allies valuable time to rebuild their air force and fight back. And then as the German advance stalled later in the war, the Allies planned and executed D-Day, the ultimate turning point in the war. Clever generals achieve their country’s goals and win wars.

And clever financial advisers help their clients achieve their goals and achieve financial independence. You do this in the exact same way as military leaders go about their job. You first of all understand what the objectives are, what is the desired end state. You then consider risk and how much is appropriate for each individual client and situation. You then consider the current external conditions and most importantly the current financial strength of your client. All of this is then evaluated and captured in the financial (battle) plan to get your client to their final objective.

Of course your real strength, just like a general’s, is that you recognise that the battle has now only just begun. From the day you develop your client’s financial plan, conditions start to change – in the external environment, the client’s own circumstances or indeed the end objective. Your real value is in the ongoing evaluation of these changes, and the adaptations and tweaks that you make to your client’s plan and the tactics (products?) that you’ve deployed to achieve their end goals.

Sitting at the heart of this is the client’s future cashflow plan, as this clearly demonstrates the current and future financial firepower of your client to achieve their ultimate objective – a bit like winning the war… Your client will see whether they need to take more risk, strengthen their resources (save more money) or maybe rein back their ultimate objectives ( similar to seeking a peace deal). Hopefully this latter situation will unfold in Ukraine very soon.


So if your clients are unclear about the value of a financial plan, it might be time to gently guide them that without a plan, good outcomes are unlikely to be achieved.

Are your Calls to Action working?

When helping financial advice businesses review their marketing approaches, one of the foremost digital assets that gets a lot of attention is of course the company’s website. While there are many aspects to reviewing a site – the design, ease of travel through the site, quality of content and search performance being among the main areas, the subject of Calls to Action (CTA) usually is an important discussion too.

CTAs are a critical element of a website. After all, that’s what you want – the visitor not to leave, but to act. Here are a few thoughts to consider, when trying to encourage visitors to your site to move to the next stage through your sales funnel.


Remember AIDA

When it comes to the journey a person will go on before eventually becoming a buyer of a good or service, AIDA is an often-used acronym. It stands for





People will land on your website at different stages of the buyer cycle. Some will stumble across your website and are at the Awareness Stage. Others may be further along – for example they may be ready to do business with you and are at the Action stage. Others again may be at the interim stages of Interest or Desire.

The key for you is that there is a relevant CTA, no matter what stage of the buyer cycle the visitor to your website is at. Think through the various CTA options available to you and seek to provide a relevant action for all visitors. These might include,

  • Subscribe to a newsletter
  • Download a whitepaper
  • Submit an enquiry
  • Book a meeting
  • Speak to someone via phone or chat functionality


Make sure your CTAs are seen

This is probably the greatest source of frustration. An adviser goes to the trouble of developing a really engaging set of CTAs and has the resources to fully activate them…. But nobody engages with them because they can’t find them. Don’t hide your CTAs away in the footer of your website, look to have them as visible as possible and across all / most pages. They need to be front and centre for that split second when someone decides to act. If not, the visitor will just move on…


Don’t be too greedy

Of course you want to gather as much information as possible about the visitor as soon as possible. I get that. But don’t be too greedy… If your form has too many questions, people will simply not give it the time. Instead at this stage, make it really welcoming and easy for someone by seeking the minimum of information. So for example, if you are looking for someone to sign up for your newsletter, all you need from them is their email address and maybe their name. Moving beyond this will probably reduce your sign-up rates. As people move through the buyer cycle and take further actions, you can then seek more information from them at a later stage.


Give visitors comfort

One concern I always have when signing up for newsletters and giving out my personal data is how it is going to be used. Am I suddenly going to start receiving a barrage of emails instead of the weekly newsletter I was expecting? Or worse again, is my data now in the hands of other 3rd parties and I’m now receiving emails about goods or services in which I have absolutely no interest. All very GDPR unfriendly… but it happens.

Be very clear about how a person’s data will be used. Don’t leave them wondering if they’ll be spammed by you… and worse still by others. Their data is a very valuable possession that you are being entrusted with, so treat it with the respect that it deserves.


Calls to Action are a critical element of your website. Get them right, and your website can deliver a steady stream of engaged visitors, and hopefully enquiries in time.

How well are you following up your events

Most of the financial planning businesses that we’re working with are busily reviewing their propositions as the country emerges from the shadow of covid lockdowns. For many firms this is simply a case of bringing forwards the benefits of remote meetings, identifying where they will fit in their offering going forwards and building remote meetings in as a core element of their proposition.

For other slightly more ambitious businesses, they have been running virtual client events over the last 15 months, mostly in the shape of regular webinars. These have been delivered by interesting and expert speakers, and by themselves too. Some of these businesses have seen their attendee numbers steadily increasing over the last few events, a real endorsement for their efforts. They rightly plan to continue delivering these webinars into the future.

These webinars have usually been excellent events, covering really interesting and valuable topics for their clients. However one area that can generally be improved is in the whole area of follow-ups – what happens after the event. Here are a few thoughts on maximising the impact of your webinar, to really ensure that it was worth all of the effort put into it.


Prepare in advance for afterwards

You know who your speakers are and you know the topics that they will be presenting. You may also have any presentation slides in advance.  So it’s relatively easy to have a few of the main follow-up assets fully or mostly prepared in advance. If these are left until after the event, they often get forgotten in the rush to get back to urgent client work. You can have the following prepared and ready to go,

  • A page or blog post on your website dedicated to the event. This should have a link to a recording of the event, that can be accessed via a completed form – this way you get to see who is downloading it and is interested in the topic. As part of this, encourage the user to sign up for your newsletter / other events so that you can then stay on their radar.
  • An email to attendees, thanking them for taking the time to attend and linking through to the event page on your website. Better still, prepare this in your newsletter software where you can track who opens and clicks on your email.
  • An email to people who couldn’t make it, advising them that there’s a recording available via the link to the event website page. As above, do this in your newsletter software.
  • If you happen to have any other relevant content on the topics covered on the webinar (whitepapers, blog articles, podcasts etc.), insert the links to these too.

When you prepare this in advance, you can be ready to go immediately after the webinar has finished and while it is still fresh in people’s minds.


Get active on social media

Then it’s time to get out and let the wider world know about the value you add to your clients. Publicise the success of your event on social media, leading people to the event page / blog on your website. Of course, once they are here, they may want to watch a recording of the event – to do so, they have to fill out your form, give you your email address and enable you to include them in your expert communications going forwards. Now you’re using your event to draw prospects to your business…


Review the analytics

After all of this, you’ll have pretty rich data. This will include,

  • How many people attended the event
  • Who they are
  • Who interacted with your emails
  • Who liked / commented on your social media posts
  • How many / who requested the recording
  • Some advisers have also sent out very brief post-event surveys, checking the pieces that people got most value from and seeking general feedback. This is more data to consider.

It’s one thing having all of this data, the important task is to use it. Block out an hour or two in your diary maybe a week after the event to go through the analytics. Was the event a success? What could be done better in the future? Most importantly, are their specific individuals who really engaged with the content and who might welcome a follow-up call?


Follow up

Where it makes sense, follow up with those individuals who were very interested in the topic. It’s quite possible that they are mulling over an issue in that space? Reach out with the offer of a remote follow-up conversation – this will enable each of you to see if there is something to explore a bit more, without investing much time in doing so. This might be where your event leads you into a wider planning conversation with a prospective client…


Next time you’re running a virtual event, invest a little time in post-event activity. It will be worth the effort.






Are you talkin’ to me?

One of the biggest marketing challenges facing financial advisers today is standing out amidst all the noise coming from blogs, social media posts and other digital activities. It’s not easy at all to connect your content with your contacts. Instead it takes a lot of effort for you to achieve your target audience recognising that you’re talking specifically to them, when they read or watch some of your content. So what can you do to increase your chances of achieving this higher level of engagement?


Know who you want to talk to

The first step is to know who your target market actually is. While you might be happy to actually do business with most people, it’s nigh on impossible to target everyone unless you have an insanely large marketing budget. Instead you need to be crystal clear about who your ideal client is – this may be business owners, people of a certain age, people of a certain occupation or maybe people of a certain level of wealth.

It’s then useful to work out the general characteristics of these people – we call this their persona. This will help you to really understand them as a segment of the population. This persona might include;


  • The demographics of the group
  • Their typical personality and what’s important to them
  • What their goals and challenges are
  • Where the opportunities might be for you to connect with them
  • What are the barriers that you might need to overcome
  • Where they get their information and where they buy
  • What sort of tone is likely to engage them best

Now you know who you want to reach…


Speak to your target market

This is a really critical step. Now that you know who you want to reach and the sort of messages that might land with them, write or record with these people specifically in mind. Make sure that they clearly see from the outset that you’re writing with them at the forefront of your thinking, that you are really tuned into their world. To help you do this, use suitable imagery too. If you want your images to really pack a punch, stay away as often as you can from stock images. If you can possibly use your own bespoke imagery of real people, this is hugely powerful.

Rather than setting out all that you do, speak to your target market about themselves. Write about their challenges, their specific financial issues and how they can make money work for them, as opposed to writing about what you do. You want them to read or hear your content and be able to quickly relate it to their own situation. As you are the person who is “joining the dots” for them, you will likely be the first port of call as they seek out more information.


Become the “go-to guy/gal”

The final step is to try and cement your position as the expert in the minds of your target market. In building on both of the earlier steps, this one requires another attribute – commitment. Nobody becomes a recognised expert overnight or as the result of a single brilliant piece of content. It takes tenacity and resilience, pushing content regularly out in front of your audience and demonstrating your value on an ongoing basis.

Very few people will see or hear all of your content, they are more likely to pick up snippets over time. So you need lots of snippets… all carefully crafted with your target audience in mind. These are the hard yards, but if carried out well on an ongoing basis, they may be the most valuable marketing steps that you take. If you’re not going to be able to produce the level of content required, get help from someone who can.


Know who you want to reach, focus your attention on them and go after them relentlessly. These are the ways of standing out from the crowd and unlocking your access to your ideal clients.

Videos – Vanity or Value?

In this latest post in our series of “12 StepChanges to a better business”, we briefly set out our thinking on the benefits of video marketing.

Financial advisers often raise the question of the effectiveness of video marketing. Some see it as a vanity project, as an expensive activity that yields very poor results. And sometimes that is exactly the case! But certainly not always…

Video offers a number of great opportunities to financial advisers. First of all, it offers a different, engaging medium to communicate an important message – maybe an overview of your business, your financial planning approach or indeed different aspects of your client proposition. Some visitors to a website prefer clicking on a video than reading paragraphs of text, so video gives you the opportunity to hang on to that visitor to your website a little longer.

Also, YouTube is now the 2nd most frequently used search engine in the world after Google, so video also offers great opportunities as an entry point to your website from searches.

However quality is critically important where video is concerned. To produce a good video takes a lot of time and effort – careful scripting, a lot of thought about production including the video style, the location, use of graphics, the cast, the right music etc., and the key messages to be communicated. And all of this to produce a video that should be kept really brief – the preferred length for most videos is no more than 60 – 90 seconds.

StepChange works with financial advisers and other organisations in developing excellent scripts that will achieve real “cut through” with your audience. We also regularly collaborate with a leading video production company to bring these scripts to final production, using a variety of different video styles. These videos can then be used across all of your digital platforms.

Should you want to add this engaging medium to your marketing mix, maybe it’s time to get some expert help with it? We look forward to your call.


Turbo charge your business in 2020

What am I doing, talking about 2020 already? Well I’m not asking you to wish your life away, but quite a number of financial advisers have observed that July and August are quieter times for them. And this quiet time offers an opportunity to do some planning for your business.

You should always be thinking short-term about your activity planning and how you are engaging and strengthening your relationships with every existing and potential clients. However now you have an opportunity to do some longer-term thinking and more strategic thinking about broader areas that will stand your business in good stead over the next few years. While it’s not an exhaustive list, here are a few areas to think about now.


Make sure your team are with you

When’s the last time that you gave structured thought to the development needs and engagement of your team? Now might be the time to consider their coaching needs that will help them improve, grow and ultimately benefit your business. And maybe also now is a good time for some team building, a day away from the office. This can be used to work through some of the challenges facing the business, while also mixing it in with some downtime and building a stronger team spirit.


Make sure you are fit for purpose yourself!

How are your own skills as a business leader, mentor, manager, business generator, client executive and everything else that you do? Now is a good time to give some thought to gaps that you might have in your own toolbox and to look at how you might close the gaps. Have you trusted people, either staff members or other business contacts who will candidly help you to identify any areas that it might be useful for you to work on? Getting help and coaching shows a desire for improvement rather than an admission of shortcomings!


Make sure your clients are with you

When did you last review your Client Value Proposition? It’s important to ensure that you continue to deliver the appropriate levels of service to different groups of clients at the right price. And this is an ever-moving target. So even if you previously segmented your clients, are clear about who you are targeting and have your positioning identified, this needs to be regularly reviewed. The world of financial advice is constantly changing. Your business needs to change with it.


Review your communications

How good are your communications to your clients? Now is a good time to stand back and look at the quality of what you produce, your client meeting inputs and outputs, your other individual communications to clients and also your (hopefully) regular marketing communications. Are your messages getting a bit tired, or are they really engaging your clients? Seek feedback – both from any analytics that are available to you and also from feedback that you seek from people who are on the receiving end of what you send and say.


Review your processes

Give some time to picking apart everything that you do within your business. Could you be easier to do business with, is there an opportunity to really wow your clients? At this stage, look to identify the gaps in your processes. Then put a plan in place with your team to overhaul the processes and set your business up to deliver a much better client experience in the future.


There are many other areas that you can think about during these quiet months – the key is to make sure that July and August don’t just slip by without much work being done. If you can make a start on some of the areas identified here, you’ll thank yourself when 2020 eventually comes around.