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Why financial advisers should focus on trust, not tweets

Why financial advisers should focus on trust, not tweets

Trust is a fundamental element in encouraging clients to engage with a financial adviser. Recent research suggests getting divorced is the most likely motivation for an individual to search for a financial adviser and, more importantly, for them to consider switching advice firms.

The divorce sector is lucrative, but building trust to entice these wealthy divorcees is a challenge. Social media gurus will say it is all about engagement; you should be making as much noise as possible. Omnipresence is the strategy, dominate your market and build your local brand. But in reality, implementation by most small financial advice firms is very amateurish.

Many of advisers do not have a website, those that do often focus on meaningless propositions, our award from a trade magazine together with colourful images of the ISO22222 financial planning process. Personally, I would put pictures of the whole team on the front page, overloaded with customer feedback and a wallop of trading heritage. Damien Rylett’s Brunel Capital Partners is a great example of a firm doing the web well and building trust, check out its web site.

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A sector that does trust building well is high street jewellery sales. The big chains follow an omnichannel strategy, building trust at every opportunity to drive customers from the website into their shops. You would have thought jewellery would be a perfect online product, men (who usually buy high end jewellery and watches) want to search on the web themselves and then speak to a trusted knowledgeable adviser before parting with their cash. Sound familiar?

Financial advice firms are similar. Prospective clients will look online, download or request brochures, check the firm’s social media and may even engage by email before walking into the adviser’s premises. Instead of purchasing the latest Rolex, they’ll be after financial planning they can trust.

Segmentation, targeting and positioning form the foundation for any marketing strategy, if advisers target divorces (or any market) they must reinforce the trust message in all their promotional channels. Instead of focusing on social media, a broader holistic approach with a consistent message that runs through all the promotional mix is a far better strategy.

Proper marketing is not fun; it is hard work. An adviser focus on fun stuff like tweeting leads to vanity metrics. How many website hits, YouTube views, Facebook likes, email opens or Twitter followers. The bottom line metrics are the firm’s bottom line: year-on-year growth and profitability over the longer term. If financial advice firms targeted and positioned themselves correctly, and focused their energies on building a trusted brand, they would find marketing a whole lot easier.

Richard Bishop is a lecturer in financial services at Coventry University College, a visiting lecturer in marketing at Wolverhampton University and a trading regulated financial adviser