You’re a financial advisor, not a financial marketer

Financial advisors are generally challenged when it comes to marketing.

Advisors didn’t get into the business in order to be marketers, but with an increasingly difficult and competitive business environment, they’re now having to focus on business development much more than in recent years.

I spent last week at FPA’s Business Solutions conference in Dallas (we were in Dallas this time last year for T3) and it became clear to me that Boulevard R’s Advisor-Branded Marketing Platform (AMP) needs support in two areas:

  1. Helping advisors generate leads (i.e. those individuals AMP helps engage, qualify and then set up a meeting for), by providing easy, concrete ways that they can incorporate AMP into their workflow
  2. Once they have a prospect who is qualified and wants to meet, helping advisors communicate their value proposition so that the prospect selects them

The combination of a marketing plan on the front end, accompanied by coaching (to bring accountability, discipline and improved communication skills) throughout the prospect life cycle seems to be the winning solution.  To help advisors really leverage our software, Boulevard R is going to spend an hour with each advisor (two 30 minute sessions) to create a personalized, free marketing plan if they sign up for either the Performance or Firm plan.

When you consider the following, which I gleaned from the Business Solutions conference and various publications, you get a pretty clear picture of how poorly financial advisors are performing when it comes to being effective marketers:

  • Regarding prospecting and lead generation, 21% of firms with $100MM+ have NO process.  A whopping 41% have an informal process and only 16% of all these firms are tracking their process (Schwab 2009 Benchmarking Study)!
  • When it comes to barriers to growth, “marketing and business development” takes the cake, with 22% of $100MM+ firms identifying it as a major barrier to growth, while “staffing and organization” and “strategy and planning” tied for second place as major barriers to growth with 8% each (Schwab 2009 Benchmarking Study).
  • Most advisors spend fewer than 5 hours a week on marketing (Tiburon Strategic Advisors, January 2010).
  • 2 out of 3 independent advisors have no written marketing plan, while 75% of top producing independent advisors have marketing and business plans (Tiburon Strategic Advisors, January 2010).
  • The top 15 challenges agreed upon by advisors include finding new clients and building revenue (Quantuvis Best Practices: Business Performance Study 2009)

When it comes to firm growth, the biggest drivers by far are referrals.  According to Schwab, while average firm growth from prospecting and marketing programs accounted for around 10-20% of growth, referrals from clients and business partners accounted for roughly 65-75% of firm growth.  This is why Boulevard R is coming up with ways for advisors to incorporate AMP into their client meetings, so that clients have a reason to refer their advisor by promoting the Starter Roadmap and online Dashboard to friends and family.  AMP is also a great way to engage business partners, by being able to effortlessly help all of their clients.

The premise that business growth is generated through referrals was backed up by Quantuvis’ Best Practices: Business Performance Study 2009, recently published in Financial Planning, which indicated that advisors anticipated that the primary growth drivers over the next three years will be driven by:

  1. Referrals from existing clients (91%)
  2. Referrals from other professionals (60%)
  3. Stock market growth (50%)
  4. New client acquisition from firm marketing (47%)
  5. Referrals from strategic alliance relationships (44%)

To help advisors break through their resistance to planning and executing on their marketing plan, as well as to help them boost their referrals, Boulevard R will personally work with advisors who sign up for a Performance or Firm plan to create an actionable, step-by-step marketing plan.  We’re also partnering with coaches who specialize in working with financial advisors, in order to keep the plans on track and the firm accountable.

Just because your training isn’t in marketing, doesn’t mean you can’t plan and execute your way to attracting new clients and increasing your profitability.

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