According to a 2015 study by the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, more Americans are working with financial advisors (40 percent) than just five years prior (28 percent). The reason cited for this increase has little to do with the markets and economy and more with people’s desire to get sound financial advice. Forty percent of respondents say advisors have become more important in those five years versus 12 percent who say less important.
While this increased level of demand is a plus for advisors, the study has some negative news for them, as well. The majority of respondents to the survey believe that advisors act in the best interest of their companies (60 percent) rather than that of their clients (25 percent). In addition, almost two out of three respondents say current laws don't do enough to protect them from their advisors.
This high demand for advice coupled with the lack of investor trust shows that people have a love / hate relationship with their financial advisors. This presents an opportunity for individual advisory practices and larger firms to change love / hate to love / love and attract more client advocates by branding themselves, in the same way that many realtors, medical practices, accounting firms and tax services have.
Consistently using branded messaging about the positive things advisors do to support their clients will help shift consumer focus from past financial scandals and ongoing concerns about self- and company-interest to build trust with investors.
Start by asking yourself what makes your individual or group advisory practice different from others in your geographical area or competitive space:
- Does it offer a unique approach for financial planning?
- Do you specialize in working with a specific market segment (for example, retirees)?
- Do you provide a “niche” advisory service, such as estate or small business planning?
- Perhaps you leverage proprietary tools, technology or education materials to help your clients better understand and manage their finances?
Once you determine what makes your firm stand out, the next step is to come up with proof points to support and explain the difference. These could include things like:
- Specialized education and training
- Client retention statistics
- Client testimonials
- Speaking engagements and mentions in the press.
Next, pull all this information together into a series of short, simple and easy-to-deliver messages that express the things that make your planning practice different. Some examples include:
- Our financial advisory service is a leader in planning for retirement. We’ve helped more than 2,000 people in our community retire on their terms for more than 30 years.
- We understand the financial needs of millennials. We offer a series of proprietary online courses on how to stay out of debt, start a family, purchase a home and more.
- People who’ve built a significant nest egg have unique estate planning needs. That’s why we’ve built an unparalleled knowledge base and portfolio of strategies to ensure their assets are transferred to their heirs as they intend.
Consistently leverage these messages in all client touch points including your website, conversations, social media campaigns, business cards, brochures, education materials and office signage. Support them with imagery that complements and enhances the messages and makes them more emotionally resonant.
By using these branded messages regularly, your practice or advisory firm will become known as an experienced and trusted resource for the market your serve, leaving behind any industry-related doubts.
If branding your financial advisory firm seems complex, consider working with an agency experienced in building and developing brands for companies in the financial services industry. Check out our broader perspective on this topic and contact us to discuss how we can can help you brand your advisory practice or firm.