Financial advisors are in an interesting situation when you think about it.
They focus all their energy and attention on the establishment of long-term financial goals. But that focus is primarily aimed at their clients.
Financial advisors typically put so much work into future planning for their clients that when it comes to their own business, there often is no real plan in place.
In other words, although a financial advisor is immersed in the business plan for a client, that same financial advisor likely has no business strategy for their service.
Why exactly would this matter?
Well, for any type of business to become successful for the long-term there has to be growth. This includes the business of financial planning.
But there are a couple of considerations in the building of a business strategy if you are a financial advisor. They should include the following:
Attract More Clients
The client base in any business has to increase to stay in a profit situation. The reality here is that for financial advisors clients come and go. There will be an ongoing stream of those you LOVE to work with, plus a mixture of others that pay the bills, but bring less joy in servicing.
One proven strategy is to separate your clients into A, B and C categories.
A clients are those that are your IDEAL client type. They’re that perfect mix of enjoyable to work with, have assets you can manage and make a difference with, and don’t blow up your phone every minute there’s a market dip. Many advisors divide the line for this category with AUM, but it could also be dictated by niche, such as business owners or doctors.
B clients are those that fall short of the above ‘A’ category. They could either bring in less revenue, be off center of their ideal niche, or simply cause more stress than revenue.
C clients are universally understood as those advisors DON’T enjoy working with, no matter how much revenue they bring in. They’re simply just not a good fit for the firm, but they keep them around because of misguided loyalty.
Firing C clients, transitioning B clients to junior advisors in your firm or other firms and building strategies to target more A clients is a sure way to accelerate desirable growth.
Growth Keeps You Interested
There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to working with just your regular clients and taking on the odd extra. However, if there is no true growth pattern to come out of that approach, it has a different negative effect on your business.
Without new growth, you risk doing what most any other business does in the same situation. They fall into a rut and over time that same old-same old gets a little on the boring side and it could start to impact your interest in what you are doing.
Bored financial advisors are no fun to be around as they just lack the passion to do their best. Avoid becoming one of them by planning to grow your business.
So how do you build a business strategy that centers on growth to keep you interested in what you are doing?
Oddly enough, it’s taking a trip back to the basics that can be applied to just about any type of business. Don’t get me wrong, financial advisors provide a unique service to all kinds of other businesses, but strategic planning for business in general also works for financial planners.
Here is a look at five key elements that should become part of your business strategy.
1 – Stand Out From The Crowd
To the average business owner, a financial advisor is a financial advisor and after a while, they all look and sound alike. This lessens your chances of getting noticed more than any of the other financial planners out there.
But how are you going to make the job of numbers sound a little sexier than it is? That’s a pretty good question considering that financials are pretty dry to the masses. But there is a way to make your services grab the attention you are seeking.
Start by looking over what services you currently provide. The odds are that you provide a wide variety of financial services to reach the widest possible audience out there. It’s worked so far, but now you have to shake it up a bit and take a slightly different approach. That’s because your menu of services is going to virtually match that of every other financial advisor in your community and state.
So you have to look deeply into your client base and what they are coming to you for. If you see a pattern of a specialty service hidden within all the regular work you do, you may have identified a niche worth exploring and serving.
With a niche that is not commonly featured as a service of a financial advisory, you could suddenly stand out because you are now offering personalized service to doctors, architects or entrepreneurs or whatever that niche ends up being.
When you latch on to a niche that appears to be underserved you will gain attention, increase your client base and begin to see growth in your business.
2 – Focus On Customer Relations
There’s a good reason why you won’t be going back to that restaurant for another lunch with a client. Not only did they get the order wrong, they barely acknowledged your group and wandered around like zombies. You already know what it feels like to receive poor customer service. You also know what poor customer service says to you about that business.
But flip the coin over and consider your feelings when you receive excellent customer service. How likely are you to support that business again? But more importantly, would you refer people to support that business based on your treatment?
What we are getting at here is that as great as you may already be with customer relations in your financial advisor role, you can amp that up a touch and receive benefits that will eventually impact the growth of your business in a positive way.
There are many ways to do this ranging from immediate callbacks to phone inquiries to a “no one gets put on hold” phone policy. Essentially what you should be doing is going far above and beyond with the personal service you provide your clients.
Let’s strip it down a little for you. You have been entrusted with highly confidential details regarding your clients’ financial status. Over time, the trust this has required will make you automatically become close to some of your regular clients. It is inevitable. The relationships built through this level of trust are like any other relationship – they depend on attention.
By giving each of your clients and potential clients a great customer experience with each contact they make with you or your office, it results in loyalty. It also can turn some of your biggest clients into brand ambassadors and they end up promoting your services for you which can bring growth to your business in the form of referrals and steady workflow.
3 – Share Your Knowledge on YouTube
You should already know that people are learning a lot from what they find on the internet. This provides you with an incredible tool to not just share your knowledge, but to do so in such a way that followers will seek you and your business for insight.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to produce a series of helpful videos on YouTube. You don’t even have to get very complicated, either. By giving some guidance on simple financial matters, you can easily turn your skills into a new marketing tool that will not only set you apart from your competitors, but by using video you will become ‘real’ and that gives you a leg up on establishing connections with viewers.
Your best bet here is to choose topics that are relatable to the average business owner who has been shopping for a financial advisor and didn’t really know where to start. The videos don’t have to be very long, either. You can get a lot of great information out in a five or ten-minute video. Be sure to include links to your website, contact information such as your business email and phone number.
The hook here is to create an informative series of videos that provide just enough information to make viewers want to contact you for more. Plus, if you do it right and come across as being genuine and an all-around approachable person, your videos are going to get you some traffic. Maybe not right away, but by cross promoting your videos on your other social network feeds, you may see some new clients monthly and weekly.
Be careful to keep your topics understandable and to meet any and all compliance matters to stay true to the message without it getting lost in a sea of funny lines and flashy graphics. Yes, you can dress your video up but remember that you are selling yourself and your skills in the video. Try to keep in mind that your videos should answer the question: “Why should I hire you as my financial advisory?”
4 – Keeping Branding Current
Thanks to access to all kinds of new technology and social networks it is easier to stay on top of your online image and branding. If you don’t already do this – have at least a website and a LinkedIn profile – you need to step up your digital footprint.
With numbers climbing on individuals seeking information online with handheld devices, you really should have a presence in the middle of all that activity. Every day businesses are turning to digital marketing as a means to reach an actively engaged audience that they may not reach in any other form of media.
That means using social media as a way to funnel traffic to your website or main Facebook business page. The possibilities are endless when you look at where you can place your targeted digital marketing budget.
However, if your goal is to attract new clients who have $500,000 in assets available, as an example, you can use metrics to get your message just to those people.
It is known simply as target marketing and is how you can promote your financial planning services directly to those who have an interest in your services. It is a great way to generate qualified leads of people who are already seeking the assistance of a financial advisor but don’t know where to start.
Remember when we told you that to get noticed you had to stand out from the crowd? Investing in your digital marketing budget will be the most cost-effective thing you will do this year to grow your business. It will also be the smartest way to get the word out about that new niche you are carving in the financial planning industry.
5 – Cultivate Networks
If you are the kind of financial advisor who isn’t afraid to take a client out for lunch on occasion, you are already on your way to building a network. Plus, if you are seeking new ways to enhance your customer relations you can do that by networking as well.
But we are not talking about your standard wine and cheese office open houses here. You have to jump outside of the box and look to create experiences with your clients and not just one-on-one. The more clients you include in your networking activities, the better it is for you and your business.
An example could be a golf tournament that you organize and invite just clients to participate in. Or you could rent a bus and take several clients on a wine tasting tour. Get your clients outdoors and away from your office so they can be themselves and you can as well.
Become more than a financial advisor to your clients. Be the person they see as more than that. Not only does it solidify the working relationship you already have with these people, but by taking them on outings you also show gratitude for their business.
Your events don’t need to be lavish but you do need to be genuine. When you connect with your clients and potential clients on a personal, emotional level, it puts you in a place that truly makes your business stand out. It fosters goodwill, loyalty, referrals and so much more including long-lasting friendships that can be comforting to you long after you retire.
As a financial advisor, you have a fair deal of competition out there. Even with a mixture of regular, seasonal and infrequent clients, you can always increase your client base. But to do this, you need a business strategy that focuses on growth. A good growth plan involves developing a niche, increasing customer service, utilizing new technology and building loyal networks.
It will take time and effort to achieve these goals but in reality, you are following the same directions you provide many of your clients. You are helping them to become successful over the long-term by showing them ways to grow with a solid financial plan. When you implement your solid business plan, you will also experience growth and success within your business.