Tag Archive for: fpa conference

Marketing communication notes from #fpaexperience

Here are some highlights from sessions I attended at FPA Experience 2012, the Financial Planning Association’s annual conference, in San Antonio, Texas. You’ll notice my notes focus on marketing and communication, even when that wasn’t the speaker’s focus.

Client engagement, according to Julie Littlechild

Truly engaged clients are the clients who will refer business to you. While 84% of clients in Advisor Impact’s surveys say they are comfortable making referrals, only 2% provide referrals to people who actually make it into your office to meet with you, said Julie Littlechild, CEO and founder of Advisor Impact, in her presentation on “Cracking the Code: Tactics That Drive Engagement and Growth.”

The best and most frequent referrals come from clients who see someone with a need for financial advice that you can meet. At least this is how I interpreted Littlechild’s words.

Littlechild got me thinking that consistently blogging about a financial challenge specific to a narrow target audience is a good way to guide referrals. Your blog helps your clients identify the problems you’re best at solving. Plus, your blog posts will boost your credibility with your new prospects.

For more on research by Advisor Impact, see Littlechild’s article, “4 Ways for Advisors to Better Engage Clients,” which originally appeared in the October issue of Investment Advisor magazine.

Tailor your written communications, says Zywave CEO

Advisors are missing opportunities to deepen their connections with their clients, according to Jim Emling of Zywave in “Expanding Your Firm’s Potential with Compelling Communication.”

Advisors need relevant content delivered at the right time via a medium that will reach clients, said Emling. This is a common sense approach that isn’t often practiced, he added. This is a big issue for advisors’ Generation X clients. More than 40% of them are less than “very satisfied” with current communications from their advisors, according to Emling.

Here are some of Emling’s ideas for boosting your communications:

  1. Send communications driven by life events like having a baby — When Emling’s wife had a baby, he “never heard a peep” from his advisor.
  2. Send a series of communications focused on specific client goals, such as managing a problem with debt.
  3. Send communications that go into more detail on new ideas introduced in meetings — Emling had no idea what ILITs were when his advisor introduced them in a meeting. He would have appreciated a follow-up explaining ILITs in writing.
  4. Figure out your clients’ pain points so you can focus your communications on those topics.
  5. When you target younger clients, you may also need to target different referral sources.

By the end of October 2012, Emling’s company is launching Advisor Briefcase, software to help advisors deliver targeted communications.

Engaging women in money discussions

The need to engage your clients and prospects ran through many of the sessions I attended at FPA experience. I was intrigued by Elizabeth Jetton’s discussions of the need to find better ways to empower and engage women. Jetton is a co-founder of Directions for Women.

Engage women with you, so they can see the value of your guidance and you can increase their financial literacy and well-being, said Jetton. She uses circle gatherings of five to 20 women and conversation cafes of larger groups to foster interactions where everyone, even an expert, shares stories.

During her discussion of these techniques, Jetton made some comments that relate more broadly to communications:

  1. Stories help people learn. When a story is told, the whole brain focuses.
  2. Don’t ask people to process more than three to four pieces of information at once.
  3. People use their guts to select you as their financial advisor, and then they rationalize it.
  4. Clients like to hear advisors’ stories and to know that you’re human and imperfect.

I think #3 speaks to why blogging, social media, and showing some personality in your writing are so important.

In case you’re interested in learning more about circles, either Jetton or Directions for Women plans to publish an e-book, Guide to Circle for Advisors.

FPA Experience through my eyes

Here are more of my blog posts inspired by FPA Experience:

Social media as practiced by Brittney Castro, Cathy Curtis, and Jeff Rose

Kitces tweet re FPA social media panelFinancial advisors can win new clients from social media. Here are some of the highlights of what I heard from Brittney Castro, Cathy Curtis, and Jeff Rose in a social media panel moderated by Michael Kitces at FPA Experience in San Antonio in October 2012.

Start conversations with prospects

Social media is an inexpensive marketing tool that allows you to connect with people whom you might never have met otherwise. Ideally it means you go to where your niche market is, start a conversation, and hear what your prospects want to learn about, as Castro suggested. Your ideal social media platform will be a function of what you and your target audience prefer.

Castro, Curtis, and Rose say you don’t need to spend tons of time on social media. However, they enjoy social media, so they invest heavily in it. Curtis said she spends 10%-15% of her work hours on social media, but that doesn’t include her time during the rest of the week. Castro said “I love marketing,” so she spends 40%-50% of her time on it, plus she goes out to network face-to-face and tweets about it. Rose spends 20-30 hours a week on marketing, including social media, newsletter, and blog. “It’s almost like a second job,” he said.

Social media and blogs work well together

Blogs work well as a destination to which you send your social media friends. Rose contrasted a static website with a blog. The website says “This is my firm and this is how great I am,” while a blog shows who you are, your personality, and your knowledge. It also offers a community for interactions. Plus, the blog is where Rose captures people as leads.

Don’t drive prospects to a web page where there’s no activity, said Rose,”It’s like the Twilight Zone.” However, a Facebook page might offer enough interaction, he added.

Financial advisors are winning new clients

Curtis, Rose, and Castro have all won clients through social media and online searches. The social media and search are related because social media activity boosts your visibility in online searches. Curtis gets more new clients through online searches than referrals. Prospects often say something like “I love your website. I found you on Google.”

Rose’s client with the most assets also found him online, through a search for “certified financial planner Illinois.” At that point he’d been active in social media for six months without any direct financial benefits. You can’t expect immediate results from social media.

Twitter has also paid off for Curtis, who has built a community of women through tweets. “Almost every one of them has asked me to become their advisor,” she said.

Some people with money look for advisors on the internet. One such client pulls in $1 million a year in income. However, these wealthy clients may be on the younger side. Castro works with women in their thirties and forties who are accumulators.

Social media’s 80-20 rule

Castro’s final tip was to spend at least 80% of your social media activity “providing value.” Twenty percent or less should be promoting yourself or your services. “The less you talk about what you do, the better it is,” Castro said.

Curtis agreed with Castro’s closing tips, mentioning that her social media activity focuses more on food than finance. “Don’t be afraid to be who you are. People hire people they like,” Curtis said.

Rose said, “So many advisor bios look alike. Social media helps you to show your personality.”

Moderator Michael Kitces said, “The leads we get off social media are the warmest leads we get because they know us.” That’s a particularly intriguing comment.

What about YOU?

How is social media working for you? Also, do you have any advice for the advisor who told me that he tried social media for 18 months with no results? Please leave comments.