Nine years ago, a marketing issue led to the creation of a network of black financial advisors and employees at one of the world’s largest wealth managers.
A financial advisor was looking for materials to send clients about Black History Month, but neither the planner nor Raymond James, Delaware Valley Complex manager Tony Barrett could find anything on the subject in the company’s marketing library, Barrett said in an interview. As co-founder and chair the company Black Financial Advisor Networkhe said the lack of content was a reflection of there being “no representation in the room” at the time.
“BFAN actually started because of our lack of inclusivity in marketing,” Barrett said. “The bad news was we didn’t have it. … [but] it was the beginning of something very good.”
Questions about marketing in the consultants’ practices can prove illuminating for potentially missed opportunities, areas where they are external Professionals could helpthe need to deal with it historically marginalized groups by Americans and even an internal investigation Your own company, according to nine planners and other experts who spoke to them financial planning. In today’s fast-moving and increasingly online world, completely ignoring the topic is not an option.
Consultants have “a huge marketing opportunity,” although many of them are “really struggling to generate organic growth,” according to Megan Carpenter chairman from FiComm partners. Recent declines in stock values, an aging planner and client population, and a declining share of business attributable to referrals are taking their toll, she said. Carpenter’s firm, a public relations and marketing firm, works with RIAs and other financial advisors.
“Today, unlike in the past, the power of purchasing decisions is almost entirely in the hands of consumers. Financial advisors need to think more broadly about how they perform in their chosen markets to continue to drive this growth,” she said. “It’s no longer enough for someone to say, ‘Hey, you should reach out to this financial advisor, they’re amazing.'”
Do you miss the boat?
The SEC’s “modernized” marketing Rule as of December 2020, RIAs gave the ability to use customer testimonials, endorsements, and third-party reviews in ways that would have been prohibited under the previous policies. Ex-Merrill Lynch advisor Akshay Singh founded fintech Indyfin’s Investor Experience Platform in March Practice compliant and Google friendly path to display their ratings and reviews along with other information about their businesses. The regulator has created a new Section 5L of the Form ADV that requires RIAs to disclose certain forms of advertising, a recent Indyfin study found. Nearly two-thirds of RIAs – 64% – left the section entirely blank, with just 9% of firms saying they currently display third-party reviews and just 2% disclosing the use of testimonials or endorsements.
“It’s going to grow like a hockey stick,” Singh said, noting that he’s heard about the new methods from many consultants. “’This is an opportunity for me to do business online. The ones that are already in the market are overtaking me.” Then the laggards will come in and we will get a lot of momentum behind those numbers.”
However, that doesn’t mean every consultant needs to feel the need to invest a lot of time and money into marketing. At Synergy Financial in San Ramon, California group, consultant Palash Islam’s team works with about 80 clients, who are mostly technology CEOs and entrepreneurs, and only tries to add about a few a year, he said in an interview. Sometimes consultants rush to hire a marketing firm too quickly, Islam said.
“I would say they don’t know what their identity is and who they want to work with. Find out who you are and then market and market that,” he said. “Most people don’t know who they are and who they want to serve. It would be better to be coached first.”
Other advisors who are thinking more broadly about growing their practices “always have to adapt their marketing strategy to how information is being received by consumers,” said Michelle Wong of Nifty Advisor Supportthe works with small and single practitioner RIAs including strategies for content, social media and websites. She recommends advisors become familiar with platforms like TikTok and Twitch and engage with them online micro-influencers that catch on with niche audiences.
“RIAs have a problem considering marketing as a core function of their day-to-day operations,” Wong said in an email. “Efficient marketing and effective communication are required to acquire leads and nurture customers, no matter what stage of business you are in. In an industry like ours, where relationships are the foundation of small business success, this is even more important.”
Consultant Anh Tran of SageMint in Orange, California assets has hired a marketing consultant to help her create new content, she said in an interview. trans practice went through a rebrand to its current name over the past year as it sought to make a number of updates in areas such as the company’s colours, message, logo and tagline. Tran considered many of the biggest names in consulting marketing before settling on a women-owned startup that brought “a fresher perspective” to the equation, Tran said.
“I didn’t like anything that either of them could bring to the table for me because it looked so similar to what everyone else was doing,” she said. “They were able to help me create a brand that I had never seen before.”
In general, consultants should further disrupt the status quo by “just being more aware of your target markets,” particularly among underrepresented groups of people who may have the wrong impression that planning is only “for rich, white people,” Tran added. Wealth managers are slowly but surely hearing this message act afterwards in these days.
The annual Raymond James Black Financial Advisors Network conference in June drew about 120 advisors and other staff alongside Barrett and members like Tampa, Fla planner Camille York Adrien. She studied marketing as an undergraduate and later joined an advisory committee that oversaw the company’s branding, advertising and promotions.
Visibility in marketing materials “plays a big part” in the network’s efforts, York Adrien said.
“You connect to things that are representative of you, your values, and your community,” she said. “That’s been a recent focus for the company and we’ve done a lot of work to ensure that happens.”
Even beyond traditional wealth managers to a firm like AssetMark, best known as a turnkey wealth management program and outsourced investment technology provider, the industry is offering its marketing services to advisors. The company’s business advisory team and Marketing Advantage units help practices with “customer-centric and compliance-friendly content, websites and other services,” Kristi Toland, director of advisor marketing, said in an email.
“RIAs need to adopt a CEO mentality when thinking about their marketing,” she said. “You are a business owner and a defined marketing plan is an essential part of a business plan. Marketing should have a dedicated focus and allocated budget (which should be in the 3-5% range for some RIAs, but can reach up to 10-15% of budget for larger companies that focus heavily on marketing) with targeted Strategies that are specific to their overall goals.”
At FiComm, the company helps consultants build “repeatable digital marketing engines” from their practices, according to Carpenter. The phrase might sound intimidating, but Carpenter said it’s just about “creating really great content” that’s specific to a practice and about speaking out about stock prices or “foreseeable planning issues” like year-end required minimum payouts or savings for college go out. As examples of consultants who have mastered this art, she cited Matthew Grishman’s and Jim Gebhardt’s Financial Sobriety podcastGerber Kawasaki’s Wealth & Investment Management analysis of Clean Energy and Climate Change and Minority Money by Emlen Miles-Mattingly podcast.
“I’m seeing consultancies really taking the lead,” Carpenter said. “I believe that prospects and customers really expect advisors to be reachable across all channels. They will look for their advisors online before meeting them.”
The central theses
The most important thing for consultants to remember is that their needs in this area are going nowhere.
“What I’ve accepted about marketing is that you never stop,” is consultant Zaneilia Harris of Harris & Harris Wealth in Upper Marlboro, Maryland management said in an email. “Marketing is a key component of growth and maintenance for an RIA company. Find out what works best for you and do it, especially if you have a clearly defined target market. As you notice, Nike, Coke and Procter & Gamble continue to advertise to keep their brands front and center in consumers’ minds. We as RIA companies need to do the same.”
According to Nifty Advisor’s Wong, advisors who are struggling to understand their plans shouldn’t expect to change their practice’s entire marketing approach overnight.
“Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all,” she said. “Consultants should adapt their marketing plan to their current company size based on their capacity and available resources. Don’t just focus on the short-term, analyze the long-term impact of your strategy and build the workflows needed to execute a successful marketing plan.”