Financial Advisor IQ – FAs Can’t Afford to Overlook Personal Branding
A core characteristic of successful financial advisors is their never-ending commitment to their clients. Clients are the lifeblood of a thriving practice, so it’s only natural for us to devote most of our time to helping them achieve their financial goals. Yet this single-minded focus can be an Achilles heel that keeps us from another crucial activity: personal branding.
Ask yourself, why do clients hire particular financial advisors? Certainly, they want advisors who have enough knowledge, experience and insight to manage their portfolios and serve their needs. Financial savvy aside, clients hire advisors because — simply put — they like them. This is to your advantage, since you control your personal brand.
A personal brand is part marketing and part reputation, which in the financial-services industry is about the most valuable asset you have. In this case, the product you are marketing is your personality. Many advisors don’t realize how much they can — and should — shape what prospective clients see even before the initial meeting.
There are many ways advisors can shape their brands. Here are a few to get you started:
Embrace social media. Websites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are venues for giving prospects a glimpse of what you’re really like. If you attended a World Cup party, share a picture of it, because your next client might be a huge soccer fan. If you recently went to a great new restaurant in town, tweet about it, because your next client might be a foodie — or the restaurant’s owner.
As for which social-media platform to use, each one has advantages, although we find LinkedIn a particularly useful site for advisors. The key to prospecting in today’s market is through introductions and referrals, and we find there’s no better way to achieve this online than through LinkedIn. The site’s “advanced people search” allows you to look for prospects through a variety of filters and search terms. Once you find someone suitable, see if you share contacts who might introduce you.
Make sure clients can find you online. Twenty years ago, most prospects relied solely on personal references. Today, potential clients often find advisors as a result of Internet research. Use this to your advantage by adding a human presence to your website: Include a headshot, add a personal touch to your bio and start a blog if you like to write. If prospects are considering hiring you, they already know you’re a competent advisor, so that part is covered. Take it a step further by showing them who you are and why they should want to work with you.
Be involved in your community. We can’t tell you how many clients we’ve met by running a local 5K charity race or getting involved in our children’s school functions. Prospects are everywhere, so simply putting yourself out there in a non-work setting will increase your odds of connecting with a new one. However, that’s only half the battle. After you finish the race or your daughter’s dance recital is over, talk about it on social media and put a framed photo of the event on your desk. Prospects pick up on these little things when they’re researching you online or sitting in your office.
As any advisor will attest, finding and hiring good employees is among every practice’s biggest challenges. Like prospects, your future employees are doing their homework on you. By showing that you have a life outside the office and maybe even share a similar hobby, you encourage potential hires who are a good fit for your practice to send their résumés and come in for informational interviews.
Prospects have thousands of advisors to choose from, so advisors need all the help they can get. Those who develop a personal brand put themselves in a better position to sign new clients and grow their business.
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