5 Tips For Creating Trust On Financial Advisor Websites

by: Jack Waymire

Summary

People are afraid of financial advisors they do not know, unlike other professionals such as CPAs.

For many reasons, investors are relunctant to initiate contact. Which creates a daunting task for financial advisors.

The content placed on a financial advisor's website must be compelling enough to convince an investor to make contact.

Financial advisor websites have a unique challenge that does not impact other types of professionals. People are afraid of financial advisors they do not know.

Paladin surveys show this fear is relatively unique because it does not carry over to relationships with other types of professionals - CPAs and attorneys.

For example, people do not have reservations about initiating contact with CPAs and attorneys on the internet. On the other hand, they have a lot of reservations about initiating contact with financial advisors.

These reservations create a major challenge for financial advisor sites that are supposed to convert visitors into qualified prospects by convincing them to give up their anonymity and submit their contact information.

Consequently, 72% of financial advisors say their websites do not produce many prospects for their services.

Why Fear Financial Advisors?

Paladin surveys show there are five primary reasons why investors are reluctant to initiate contact with financial advisors:

  1. They view financial advisors as salesmen (CPAs are not viewed as salesmen).
  2. They do not want to be exposed to high-pressure sales tactics.
  3. Brand name firms have been fined for ripping off investors.
  4. They do not know how to select the best financial advisor.
  5. They know the wrong advisor can wreck their financial future.

The internet is a Game-Changer

It used to be when investors wanted to learn more about financial advisors they had to talk to the advisors.

Since most advisors used outbound marketing tactics, they initiated contact with investors. There was no issue about who initiated the contact - 99% of the time it was the advisor.

The internet changes the game. Investors can enter key words and find hundreds of advisors in their communities. They can Google-search advisor names, check FINRA, and visit advisor websites.

Today, there is an abundance of public data about financial advisors on the internet. Investors use the data to screen advisors and determine who they want to talk to. But, access to data does not get them over the hurdle of initiating contact with financial advisors they do not know.

Financial Advisor Websites

These fears, or maybe we should call them concerns, create a daunting task for financial advisor websites. They have to convince investors to contact you. This is the primary task of a website in an inbound marketing system.

This challenge is even greater because financial advisor websites have three minutes to convince investors to give up their anonymity and contact them. More to the point, they have three minutes to create credibility and trust for their firms and a feeling of security for investors.

Why three minutes? Paladin surveys show that is the average amount of time investors spend on websites. Advisors have three minutes to convince investors they are the trustworthy financial experts the investors are looking for.

The content and offers on financial advisor websites must be compelling enough to convince investors to initiate contact - the foundation of inbound marketing.

Five Tips

These tips are based on 17 years of investor surveys that measure how investors use the internet to find, screen, and select financial advisors.

Follow the tips and improve your inbound marketing results.

#1 Transparency

It is reasonable to assume investors are going to visit multiple websites - Google says an average of five - when they use the internet to find, screen, and select the advisors they want to talk to.

This gives them the opportunity to compare the content and offers on multiple websites.

What they see impacts who they want to talk to and meet with.

It is pretty obvious, to more astute investors, who is practicing transparency and who is withholding information.

Tip: Transparency is one way to build credibility and trust on a website.

#2 Expertise

Investors are seeking experts who can help them achieve their financial goals.

This is a complicated task when every advisor claims to be a financial expert.

The task is even more complicated because financial advisors do not have GIPS-compliant, audited track records.

All advisors publish bios on their websites. The focus of the bios should be on their sources of expertise: education, experience, designations, and association memberships (continuing education requirements).

Tip: Sources of expertise can be the financial advisor, other professionals at the firm, or affiliated professionals (CPAs, estate planning attorneys).

#3 Ethics

How do advisors represent themselves as trustworthy financial professionals?

  • Provide a link to FINRA/BrokerCheck on their websites (required).
  • Describe their registrations (RIA, IAR) and their fiduciary status.
  • Describe their ethical background - e.g., never had a complaint in 15 years.
  • Describe their method of compensation (fees), which is how people pay other professionals they depend on for specialized advice and services.
  • Describe their business practices in a code of ethics.

Tip: The answer is all of the above in a documented format so investors have a written record. Investors should trust what they see and not what they hear when they select financial advisors.

#4 Communication

Most investors assume financial advisors are salesmen. It starts with the sales pitch that advisors use when they market their advice and services to investors.

But, that is not the form of communication that matters most to investors.

What matters is how advisors communicate with clients: telephone, internet, Skype, meetings, and reports.

Frequency of communication also matters: monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual.

Poor communications are one of the primary reasons why investors terminate their relationships with financial advisors.

Tip: Do not take your communication practices for granted. They are very important to investors, in particular during down markets.

#5 Expenses

Financial advisor expenses are one of the most important forms of transparency.

Most advisors are reluctant to disclose their fee schedules or the fully-loaded cost of their advice and services on their websites.

One form of expense is the financial advisor's compensation that is usually expressed in the form of a fee or commission.

Additional expenses may be bundled in the form of a wrap fee.

At a minimum, advisors should describe how they are compensated. For example, they are paid a 1% asset-based fee that is billed quarterly in arrears. Investors are paying for services they have already received. And, the fee can be stopped at any time by terminating the relationship.

Tip: It is difficult for investors to trust advisors who do not disclose all of the expenses that are deducted from their accounts.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.