How advisors can build a more effective online presence
The ways that consumers find products and services has changed drastically over the past couple decades. While word-of-mouth may have been a sufficient marketing strategy back in the day, it could fall short for modern investors.
A recent study from Harvard Funds found that almost 50% of investors say that social media impacts whom they hire as a financial professional. Additionally, 23% of Gen Z investors responded that they wouldn’t even consider talking to a financial professional if they didn’t have a social media presence.1
Consumers have asked, and the industry listened. As of 2019, 72% of U.S. financial advisors used LinkedIn for business, 62% used Facebook and 52% used Twitter.2 As the industry has navigated the pandemic for the past few years and there have been less opportunities for in-person connection, this focus on social media has become increasingly important.
While adoption of social media has been strong for financial advisors, the ways that RIAs discuss and market their offerings can sometimes fall flat. Engaging with the online community means more than existing online, it means developing and delivering a refined message that can resonate with an investor at a first glance.
Developing Your Online Presence
For a large percentage of advisors, referrals are likely a major source of new business. Clients who appreciate an advisor’s expertise who tell their friends and family to consider working with the advisor as well. But, when those referrals come through, how is that now-prospect learning more about the advisor’s business? It starts with a Google search.
When a prospect looks up a business, they should find ample resources explaining the focus of the advisor, the types of clients they serve, the services they offer, and how to get in touch. While a referral can be an incredibly strong motivator, it isn’t an end-all be-all.
When updating and expanding a firm’s online presence, advisors should look to dive into and outline exactly what makes their firm different, their areas of expertise, and how their services could benefit a prospect.
While this can be written on a website or social media bio, it should resonate through other materials as well. Some options include:
- Videos of the RIA team on YouTube talking about their offering and how they work hand-in-hand with clients.
- Social media posts sharing industry articles or commenting on trending topics that are impacting investors.
- Blog articles on new regulations or shifting market environments, with insights that could benefit prospective clients.
There isn’t one right way to build an online presence, there are hundreds. It comes down to finding what is authentic to each unique RIA, and what channels are going to work best for that team. Some advisors do great behind the camera, others prefer to write up their thoughts and opinions – whatever makes sense for that team.
What’s important is that the prospect has information available online – advisors can’t rely on prospects to simply pick up the phone and call after a referral. Today’s investor will likely do some research before taking that step.
Promoting Your Unique RIA
There are thousands of Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) in the U.S. – for the average investor, telling these firms apart can be tricky. On top of developing an online presence, advisors should aim to use that presence to drive home what makes them stand out from the crowd.
“Holistic wealth management” is one of those terms that has been said so frequently, it’s started to lose some of its weight. With the widespread adoption of advanced financial planning technology and RIA trading platforms, this kind of an offering has almost become table-stakes. What was once seen as a top-tier service has become increasingly commonplace.
Today’s clients demand more – they want to know what an advisor is going to do for them that they can’t get down the street with a different firm, or online with a robo-advisor.
So, the challenge for advisors is significant. To move past the expected and clearly define their firm’s differentiators, and how they could be a perfect fit for a particular client.
Where to begin? Dive into the firm’s niche.
Defining Your Niche
RIAs should consider taking an in-depth look into their client-base. Are there certain client-types that they serve particularly well? Perhaps doctors, lawyers, or entrepreneurs? These are investors that may have similar needs and can benefit from an advisor that understands their particular financial situation.
Maybe this niche has nothing to do with the client’s profession, but rather the advisor’s services. Perhaps it’s in-depth tax planning, or experience managing the sale of a business or liquidation of assets.
There is no one archetype for a niche, but what’s important is finding out what a firm does better than competitors. That focus can help an advisor stand out from the pack.
Some RIAs may know their niche right off the bat – for others, it may be more difficult to determine. One way to take a deep look into a business is through RIA custodian data.
With in-depth, structured data from a RIA custodial service provider, advisors can take a complete look at their firm’s operations from a high-level view to determine where they spend the majority of their time, areas where they perform particularly well, and what kinds of clients they serve or would like to serve moving forward.
Not all RIA custodians approach data the same way – download TradePMR’s data checklist with key questions to determine what data your RIA has access to from your current provider. If your custodian isn’t offering the data you need to identify your firm’s core strengths, it may be time to find a provider that will.
Driving Referrals to a Consistent Message
RIAs could benefit from taking a step back on a regular basis to evaluate if their messaging accurately reflects the current state of their business and offering. Firms evolve, goals change, and the ideal client of yesterday may not be the ideal client of tomorrow.
Establishing and continuing to build a solid online presence can be a key for RIA growth. This online presence can help that RIA make the most of referrals, helping to ensure that those prospects have ample resources online to get a feel for a provider’s offering before picking up the phone.
Interested in learning how TradePMR could support your RIA in delivering excellent service to your particular niche? We should talk.
1 More Investors Are Vetting Their Financial Advisors On Social Media, Financial Advisor Magazine, Tracey Longo. Published June 22, 2021.
2 Use of Social Media Nearly Universal Among Financial Advisors, According to New Putnam Investments Study, Putnam Investments. Published April 8, 2019.