According to a recent survey by SEI Advisor Network, the #1 resolution for financial advisors for 2018 is to increase referrals. The survey showed that the advisors were not getting the number of referrals they needed to meet revenue goals.
But before you start broaching the subject with your clients, consider this: getting referred may not be the problem at all.
The Case of the Disappearing Referrals
Spenser Segal, CEO of ActiFi, Inc., wanted to learn more about financial advisor referral patterns. So he purchased data from a survey company. He and his team spent months examining the data, which included tens of thousands of questionnaires from many advisors and their clients.
His findings were quite interesting. The good news: clients were actively referring friends and family to their advisors. The bad news: Out of every 10 referrals, advisors were seeing at most one prospect.
So only about one out of 10 referrals actually contacted the firm.
What happened to the other 90%? Very likely, they went online, checked out their website, then decided there was no compelling reason to contact them.
While this statistic sounds depressing, it’s actually an easy problem to fix. You just need to make your website as referable as your firm is.
Don’t worry…you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch to get results. Even if you’ve got a standard template-based financial advisor website, there are affordable ways to change it so your firm stands out. That way, you won’t risk losing those valued referrals.
How to Make Your Website Referral-Friendly
Here’s some tips to make the most of the website you’ve got.
#1. Fine tune your website headline.
If your client refers your firm, the referred friend or family member likely types your name into the search engine. When your website appears, what do they see? Is there a crisp headline that immediately communicates your firm’s value?
Unfortunately, if you’re like most RIAs, your message is not as compelling as your firm actually is. Most financial advisor website headlines are generic and don’t do justice to the firm they represent. Instead, the headline must speak to the website visitor and immediately attract their attention.
You do that by talking to the website visitor, not just talking about your firm. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Ask ‘what’s in it for me?’.
For specifics, see my recent article on reworking financial advisor headlines.
Whether you work with a financial advisor copywriter or handle it in house, brainstorm, edit and test your headlines out. Don’t skip this step…it’s the door opener you need to start turning that referral into a client.
#2. Give your financial advisor website copy an extreme makeover.
In person, you and your teammates know how to sell your firm. The problem is, most financial advisor websites don’t even come close to capturing your story. Instead, they are often dry, one-dimensional online brochures.
While facts are good, your website needs to be actively selling for you. So the copy needs to:
- Differentiate your firm from your competitors
- Speak to the pain points of your target prospects
- Make your firm seem approachable to your prospects
The good news is, if you can get it right, your website can go beyond lead generation and actually do some of the selling for you. So by the time a prospect contacts your firm, they already know what to expect and what they’ll get from working with you.
So while it is an investment of time and/or resources to get it right, once dialed in, it can be working for you 24/7 generating leads and pre-selling your services.
And that means converting more of those valued referrals into real live clients.
#3. Make it easy to do business with your firm
As consumers in the digital world, we are all a bit spoiled. Instead of having to visit stores, talk to sales reps and then go back and do more research, most of us can do the vast majority of our buying research on-line. Think about it. Buying a car? Do you just walk into a dealership and ask ‘what car is right for me’? Neither do your prospects. More than likely they’ve already surveyed the landscape and are getting close to making a decision by the time they contact you.
Buying financial advisory services is a much bigger deal. Most advisory firms don’t make it easy for a new prospect to get to know your firm. On the flip side, if you make it easy to work with yours, you come across as consumer-friendly. That automatically helps build trust.
One great way to do this is to offer free ways to sample your services:
- Offer a free eBook that solves a problem or offers actionable tips
- Offer a free financial checkup or portfolio second opinion
The key is also to make it structured. Just offering a ‘free consultation’ can leave prospects wondering if you’ll batter them with calls or spam afterward. Or maybe they’ll get asked embarrassing questions about their financial lives in the first 20 minutes. Instead, you want to make it clear how the process will work. This eliminates the mystery and in turn helps people warm up to doing business with you.
#4. Clearly post your minimum client requirements (assets or fees) on your website
This last quick fix is something that actually might stop people from referring, so it’s critical to address. If you’re like most RIAs, you probably have minimums in terms of assets or fees. If this isn’t spelled out clearly, this might make you difficult for clients to refer friends to. What if your client referred her neighbors who then were turned down by your firm due to insufficient assets? That would put your client in a very awkward situation. That client might definitely think twice about referring anyone else.
This is another easy fix: clearly state your requirements somewhere on your website. Transparency about fees builds trust, so the more the better.
Putting It All Together
Whether you handle these changes in house, or contract with a financial advisor content firm, these changes will help get your website working productively for you. This will make referred clients who meet your requirements more likely to contact you.
Once it’s working, don’t just sit back. In today’s digital world, your website is your storefront. You wouldn’t leave it for months without freshening it up, would you? Even better, search engines like Google love fresh content. Every time you post new content, your rankings get a boost, making your website all the more productive.
So in 2018, resolve to make your financial advisor website as referable as you are.
Jeanne Klimowski is the founder of Wavelength Financial Content Inc. Wavelength provides copywriting, content development and financial wellness programs for financial advisors.