Client acquisition is the top priority of financial advisor marketing. However, there have been a number of new obstacles that will take an innovative approach to solve challenges like the three below.
Popular do-it-yourself strategies like cold calls and dinner seminars have been a mainstay of financial advisor marketing for decades. However, these tactics have three innate problems: they demand a huge investment of time, show slow ROI and offer poor overall results both per-hour and per-contact. The truth is that these industry standard methods don’t scale well as you’re trying to grow your firm.
In the end, it all comes down to the best use of your time. Too much spent on courting the wrong leads drives client acquisition costs (CAC) to unsustainable levels. Data from over 800 financial advisors (collected in this Michael Kitces research report) shows that a whopping 83% total CAC for a new client in financial services comes from investment of your time. That’s an alarming percentage.
It also points to another problem in the financial services industry: very few advisors actually know how much it is costing them to acquire new high-quality clients. All of these unaccounted hours poured into inefficient methods that take too long to produce real results — or that fail to yield predictable results in a reasonable timeframe — have long been viewed as simply “the cost of doing business.” This is a mistake.
If you’re gathering clients 1 or 2 at a time over weeks or months of cold-calling and 1:1 sales meetings, with little certainty on what it’s really costing you per new client, it can dramatically extend the time before you reach net profitability across your expanding client base.
The faster you can reach and onboard whole groups of new clients and scale up operations, the sooner you’ll reach the green area and truly profit from your marketing efforts.
The industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. Robo-advisors, fintech startups, and micro-investment apps are competing for your audience’s attention with the promise of convenience, simplicity, and immediate gratification. The market is more crowded than ever, with over 26,000 of those fintech startups and $103.1 trillion in total worldwide assets under management by 2021. Regulations continue to evolve, too (a fact that 78% of digital marketers in wealth management identify as a top challenge).
Technology, regulations and your competitors are not all that has changed. Today’s financial services clients increasingly prefer instant, virtual and self-help solutions. Many advisors have seen this as a sign that they should pivot to the internet. The digital world absolutely has its place in your marketing plan, but trendy strategies like social media calendars and business blogging have shown to be among the least efficient for client acquisition.
What’s needed is a way to leverage emerging preferences while also solving the scalability problem. For a growing number of fiduciary advisors, that search has led to financial education.
Educate first, and clients will follow. Your business as a fiduciary investment advisor is built on complex and specialized information. Clients come to you hoping to better understand financial matters and make more informed decisions. This makes financial services an ideal business model for education-centric marketing.
After all, your service itself is essentially a form of education. Here are five reasons that educational offerings could help you generate five times as many new clients.
You’re a natural teacher: High-performing advisors are naturally talented at mentoring their clients. It’s no surprise that the skills of a financial advisor translate well to physical and digital classrooms, where your deep subject knowledge and explanatory gifts can shine. Teaching a class of qualified prospects is the perfect way to cultivate new relationships while demonstrating your expertise.
It’s scalable, efficient, and effective: Remember, the inefficiency of cold calling, relying on referrals and 1:1 sales presentations are central problems in scalability. You can turn the math around with educational seminars and courses that allow you to engage self-selected, pre-qualified prospects 10:1. Research shows that financial education courses are one of the most cost-effective and cost-efficient methods of acquiring new clients.
Education builds trust: According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer1, global consumers trust financial services businesses less than any other industry — and it’s been that way for years. A virtual or physical classroom setting gives you the opportunity to establish trust in an organic way, free of any looming expectation of a sales push. By empowering prospects to make smart financial decisions on their own, you’re naturally building confidence in your expertise and establishing your credibility. When attendees need further advice, they know where to turn.
Content is king: The 1996 essay by Bill Gates popularized the phrase, but it’s as true today as ever. High-quality educational content — in the form of course materials, virtual courses, and more — is one of your most effective tools for converting attendees into prospects. The lasting value of content marketing quantifiably improves prospect engagement, according to 72% of marketers2.
Clients come to you: Financial services marketing and sales strategies like cold calls and LinkedIn messages will reach a large number of uninterested parties as you search for qualified prospects. With financial education, pre-qualified attendees come to your course. The low-stakes environment of the classroom, without the expectation of a sales pitch, makes it possible to engage informally with attendees as they progress towards appointment-ready prospects.
Okay, so you’re interested in adding education to your financial advisor marketing strategy. Where do you begin? How can you make sure your educational offerings best complement your traditional fiduciary services and increase client acquisition?
Here are a few tips to help you get started on the right foot:
The more you can narrow your focus to a particular market segment (retirement planning, peak career wealth creation, college savings, etc.) the better your results will be. Specialization makes you more memorable and positions you as an authority on the subject, whereas a generalist must compete against everyone.
Geotargeting (focusing on a specific geographic area) can also help to thin out the competition and improve your credibility with local clients. With that said, online courses expand your potential audience exponentially, either in your exclusive region or around the globe. A virtual format also makes it easier to partner with relevant experts such as attorneys, CPAs or tax specialists and increase the value of your offering to clients in your market niche.
A geographic focus also enables you to study the regional demographics and customize your services for the trends of the area. A greying region may benefit more from retirement income and estate planning services, whereas an area with a high density of affluent professionals may benefit more from wealth creation and long-term investment advice.
Whether in-person or virtual, make sure not to rely exclusively on one-sided lecture formats. A chance to give attendees individual attention during the course is critical to building the personal relationships that facilitate conversion. Online courses can include 1:1 “lab session” tools and in-person seminars can be designed with opportunities to interact with attendees and engage them in personal conversations.
Educational materials for attendees do triple duty:
First, something to take away from the course impresses attendees and increases the value of the experience.
Second, you’re giving potential prospects a preview of the quality they can expect in your services.
Finally, these assets are an excellent way to draw in curious individuals who aren’t ready to commit to your services. The physical course workbook sitting on an attendee’s shelf is a constant reminder of their need for your services.
High-quality, complementary educational assets can work alongside more exclusive, paid financial education resources and coursework without overshadowing them. Even if you don’t get a 1:1 meeting right away, you can nurture attendees with email newsletters, short videos and free downloads to spread awareness of your brand and drum up business down the road.
Make sure that you work closely with your compliance team as you develop and implement digital marketing campaigns or educational assets for distribution. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Your courses and your business both rely upon providing real value to an audience. It’s natural to feel an urge to go for the hard sell, but resist the temptation.
No matter how much value you give away, your prospects will always be able to benefit from more. In fact, the more generous you are with real-world stories, examples, and objective education for course attendees, the more they are likely to trust and see value in your services. The ROI for thoughtful financial education offerings is huge.
Virtual, in-person and hybrid course formats all have benefits for your overall approach to financial education. There’s no doubt that in-person courses in a physical classroom are an important piece of local client acquisition. However, digital financial education events no longer experience the same limitations or hesitancy that they did in the pre-COVID world. Online seminars from FMT in 2021, for example, attracted an average of 20% more attendees than pre-COVID in-person courses!
Many financial advisors initially feel nervous about their camera presence, but according to ThinkAdvisor3, those same professionals are now amazed at how well a virtual program lets them “form quick rapport and meaningful relationships despite never meeting in person.”
Video content in particular is a major opportunity right now. After all, U.S. internet users consume over 15 hours of digital video4 each week. Incorporate subtitles into videos or video-type marketing materials, as many users leave the sound off by default (but don’t mind reading!).
It’s important to optimize all digital offerings for mobile formats, too. Data shows5 that U.S. adults now average about 4.25 hours a day on their phones. A vertical format on a smaller screen with a touch interface will have a substantial impact on the user experience. Keep these things in mind with the assets you design, format of your course and platform you choose to deliver it.
Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. An established, turnkey program can help you hit the ground running with ready-made course materials and a digital platform or physical location to educate your audience without starting from scratch. Proven platforms like FMT have helped fiduciary advisors realize incredible results for more than 20 years across a wide variety of financial topics.
If you’re looking for a turnkey, compliance-approved and scalable financial education program, FMT is ready to help. The FMT platform is a plug-and-play financial advisor marketing solution that empowers you to acquire new clients through educational offerings.
A typical FMT course attracts an average of 17 highly qualified attendees, generates roughly 10 appointments, 4 new clients, and about $2M to $5M in AUM to your pipeline. Advisors have leveraged the FMT platform for more than two decades, engaging over 500,000 affluent professionals, pre-retirees and retirees each year.
Proven, FINRA-reviewed course design
Engaging, ready-made materials and comprehensive attendee workbooks
Concierge instructor training, conversion coaching and RSVP support
Marketing strategy, planning & guidance
Options for in-person, online or hybrid course formats
An exclusive marketing territory reserved for you
Our compliance-ready course materials and proactive support help financial advisors focus on what they do best — provide valuable financial guidance. We’ll handle the marketing from end-to-end, and you’ll teach a pre-built, proven course that is not a sales pitch. The valuable experience you create for attendees inspires their trust and confidence in your expertise, and the follow-up appointments almost book themselves.
Here’s how it all works together:
FMT works alongside you to define a strategy
You are given an exclusive, fully reserved marketing area
FMT provides high-quality, vetted course materials, including speaker notes and attendee workbooks
We promote your course, handle your RSVPs, and collect registrations
You teach the course in-person and/or online
Attendees follow up, you book 1:1 sessions, and your AUM grows!
It’s not unusual for a typical course to attract 4+ new clients and millions in new household AUM. The results speak for themselves:
Presenting the FMT seminars has made my business. I grew from $15M to $85M with this as my primary marketing activity.
Built from scratch an $80M AUM practice of nearly 200 households. My practice is thriving now and FMT is the core of our growth.
With an average of 1 market area and 4-6 courses each year, an advisor could expect to book approximately 30-45 potential one-on-one sessions with pre-qualified clients who attended the courses. FMT has been able to deliver these results for more than 20 years.
Financial education programs work because they are replicable, scalable, and have stand-alone value to every attendee. Teaching even a single course can provide the spark that launches a handful of new client relationships. While gathering an audience to listen to a sales pitch isn’t easy, prospects line up at the door when you give them the tools to set themselves up for financial success.
Contact FMT today and learn more about how we equip advisors with compliance-ready financial education courses that convert vetted prospects into their best lifelong clients.