Customized One-on-One Business Coaching for Financial Advisors
Getting Creative in 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
We asked our Brand & Marketing Team what advisors should be doing in 2021...
Fortunato Restagno, Brand Coach
Many advisory firms have great brand and marketing ideas but they forget about one critical ingredient before getting started - their compelling story. As an advisor, your story is the one thing that is unforgettable. Without it, it's easy for people to forget why you are different than other advisors.
A compelling story will flow through your brand and touchpoints effortlessly and bring your corporate identity together. The challenge is figuring out what your unique story is. Think about your childhood, your adolescence, the beginning of your career, important people in your life, hobbies and interests. If you have a team, work on this together and see if there are any similar themes that come to the surface. Write down any noteworthy events that you feel have had an impact on who you are today and why you are an advisor. Don't be afraid to share this story with your clients. It makes you human and relatable.
Heather Amlin, Marketing Coach
Having a TouchPoint Strategy and Implementation Plan is essential once you have created your new Brand or have decided to re-fresh your marketing materials. There are a few key points to consider:
You need to understand how to reach your ideal clients and/or target your ideal prospects when considering your marketing materials (TouchPoints). Many of your clients may be tech savvy and appreciate your online presence - virtual meeting PowerPoint presentations, online appointment software and e-newsletters. However, many advisors have clients that are not on the computer and would benefit from physical paper documents like brochures and on brand client report templates. You need to know your audience.
The people in your target area should know who you are, what you do, and how you support your community. Having a marketing strategy outlining where to advertise and how to keep top of mind with your clients and prospects is important. It might be something as simple as your name, logo, slogan, and descriptor appearing as a banner ad in the local newspaper, a 10 second ad on your local radio station, or sending a unique, on brand Thanksgiving card to clients in October.
Digital Marketing Tips
Kelly Maxwell, Content Creator & Digital Marketing Coach
If you have developed your strategy and have concluded that digital marketing is an important part, consider the following:
Most TouchPoints you create can have a digital aspect to them - online brochure, newsletter or greeting card so developing a digital version can broaden your reach.
We have also seen many advisors revamp their websites to better reflect their brand, values, philosophies and to provide more resources and easier online communication. E-newsletters and social media communication are also popular, especially now when face-to-face interaction is limited. If you don’t like writing content, share third party content or try short videos on your phone/virtual meeting software. It's easy for advisors and small businesses to get overwhelmed with what to do. Take one step at a time and stick to the plan!
Good luck and if you need help getting started,
For more tips, check out this 2-minute video:
4 Critical Steps to Brand and Market Your Business.
Advisors are back in growth mode and building up their teams
BY HELEN BURNETT-NICHOLS, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
UPDATED DECEMBER 16, 2020
If you have a Globe and Mail account you can view the article here.
Otherwise, see below for key takeaways.
Volatility and uncertainty during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a forced pause to the year’s plans for most Canadians and businesses – financial advisors included. But several advisors have chosen to shift back into growth mode carefully in recent months as client demand has put their plans for strategic long-term expansion come back into focus.
April-Lynn Levitt, a business coach for financial advisors with The Personal Coach in Oakville, Ont., says that while many of her advisor clients were initially waiting to gauge the impact of the pandemic on revenue and growth, several have added team members over the past few months. She says advisors have shifted from reactive to proactive mode as demand from clients increases.
Many advisors were surprised by the success of the virtual model with both existing and new clients and see this as an opportunity to grow strategically, focusing on where they need to augment their service offering, Ms. Levitt says.
“If you have the mindset that, ‘Yes, we can do business this way in this new environment,’ then those type of advisors have been really exceeding,” she says.
The virtual nature of business at the moment should not prevent firms from bringing on extra team members as long as expansion makes sense strategically and financially, Ms. Levitt says.
At the same time, expanding an advisory firm successfully in the COVID-19 era requires clarity and communication beyond what may have been necessary previously, as the face-to-face component of bringing a new team member on board is missing, she says.
“It’s even more important to have all the things you would have in a normal hiring process, like a very clear job description and responsibilities, a very clear onboarding process and training schedule,” Ms. Levitt says.
Please connect if you have any questions about growing in 2021!
Do you have a business plan? Better yet, would you say it's comprehensive; having strategies, vision, goals with action plans and timelines?
So why plan? Well, simply put, what gets written down gets remembered, what gets scheduled gets completed, what gets measured gets improved! Also consider how business planning efforts will help your clients achieve their goals.
To start, complete a Year-End Review and ask yourself the following questions. Don't forget to get your team involved.
1. What were our goals in 2020 and did we achieve them?
2. What went really well this year?
3. What was missing last year or needed to be improved?
We are seeing extinction in the business world due to the current conditions brought on by COVID-19. Will your business survive or thrive in this changing environment?
The good news is the financial services industry itself is not endangered. In fact, in uncertain times like these, advisors are needed more than ever. This time should be viewed as an opportunity versus a hindrance.
In the May issue of FORUM, Kim Poulin and April-Lynn Levitt discussed having successful virtual meetings with clients. We are seeing successful advisors not only reevaluating how they meet effectively with clients — virtually — but also enhancing their entire digital marketing strategy. This is one facet of business that has become more important with physical distancing.
I have always talked about the significance of technology and digital marketing. Ten years ago, I would see many advisors hesitate to take the leap to implement any digital strategies. They wondered what the impact would be on their business and if it was necessary. Like many marketing strategies, it is hard to quantify your digital marketing success. However, what is the cost of doing nothing? In this unprecedented time, that cost is now amplified.
So, how do you play an important role with clients in the current environment and maintain your ecological niche? Let’s discuss some ways that advisors are taking their businesses to the next level with digital marketing.
Since your online first impression is becoming as important as your face-to-face first impression, advisors want their websites to reflect what their business is about. They are making sure their site reflects their brand, value, and business philosophies. Advisors are also giving their websites a tune-up by offering regularly updated resources to stay relevant and provide the latest information. Consider reviewing your images and making sure they capture your ideal client. Review your slogan and descriptor. Does it explain what you do and who you do it for? Do readers get enough information by simply viewing the homepage? Does your website look great on a mobile device? If not, it’s time to change that.
Advisors are sending specific messaging directly to their contacts regarding the latest news, words of encouragement, and explanations around market changes. These messages are effective because they are coming directly from the advisor. In a world full of templated text, this is a refreshing change. This content can also be used in different ways for broader exposure. If appropriate, you can share these newsletters on your website and on social media.
Leverage your online strategy further with social media platforms. Connect with clients, prospects, centres of influence, and share the same newsletters and third-party articles to communicate your breadth of knowledge. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself on LinkedIn to new potential leads.
If you don’t like writing, try short videos on your phone or virtual meeting platform as well as podcasts to discuss topics you want to share with clients.
Time pressed? If you can, delegate these tasks to an associate advisor or other team member so you can focus on what you do best. You can also hire outside coaches who specialize in coaching financial advisors.
The tools we see advisors implementing are within reach for small businesses. It’s just a matter of implementing the plan and sticking to it.
One of the biggest questions we are hearing from financial advisors right now is, “How do I get new clients when I can’t meet people in person?” Prospecting challenges were real for advisors pre-pandemic so the added social-distancing challenges have left advisors and business owners scrambling to figure out how to adjust their process so they can still find prospecting success.
A lot of advisors aren’t confident they are putting their best foot forward with selling their value via phone or zoom meeting.
It can feel poorly timed to reach out to prospects, especially if you are speaking with someone who is in an industry that has been hit hard by COVID restrictions.
Many are checking in more with existing clients or have experienced process changes within their office therefore they have less time to prospect.
Here are some important things to remember:
Know Your Value
Prospects who do not have an advisor or perhaps have an advisor who doesn’t connect with them regularly, will be feeling even more in need of advice now versus before. Now is a good time, and we have seen some advisors go back to reach out to former/cold prospects as well.
Many people are concerned about their finances right now. This is a prime opportunity to ensure your clients are aware you are there as a resource to help their family and friends if they have questions. Don’t be the best kept secret.
Make a Good Impression Online/Over Phone
Always take a few minutes to do introductions and chat before discussing business. You can gauge this introduction timeframe based on how much your prospect is talking. Give time for questions and comments. Use visual aids and send ahead of time if you are meeting by phone or have onscreen for video. Slow down your pace and annunciate clearly and ask good, emotional connecting questions.
To hear more about client acquisition strategies, please contact us.
A lesson about business adaptability and perseverance.
If you look up the word “Moxie,” you will see it is a noun meaning energy, courage and determination. It is also the brand name of a carbonated beverage, which is among the first mass-produced soft drinks.
We have all heard of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, but we may be surprised to learn that Moxie Soda, originating in New England in 1876, outsold Coke at a time and was so popular that the word “Moxie” became a part of the American vocabulary - every marketer’s dream! So why have most people today never heard of this soft drink? According to historians, after the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, Moxie decided to cut almost its entire marketing and advertising budget. Meanwhile, Coke decided to ramp up its advertising budget despite the tough times. The rest is history.
There are parallels that can be drawn from the Moxie story and the hesitation businesses and advisors might be experiencing right now with spending. The good news is advisors are optimistic. In fact, we see most successful advisors investing in their business, despite the pandemic.
Findings from the Natixis Investment Managers 2020 Global Financial Professional Survey revealed that financial professionals believe they will see annualized growth of 14.3% over the next three years, from new clients and new assets from current clients.
The most adaptable advisors are embracing digital strategies and viewing these uncertain times as an opportunity to boost their visibility. Here are some strategies to consider:
Online Meetings - advisors are going virtual with their meetings to see clients regularly and utilize their time efficiently while also using programs like Calendly to schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails.
Online Surveys/Forms - advisors are taking administrative tasks online to fill out forms and surveys when appropriate. This makes it easier for clients. Printing and scanning is tedious when there are much better options now like Monkey Survey and Google forms etc.
Website/Social Media - advisors are focused more on utilizing their online presence as an important resource for clients and prospects to learn more about their business philosophies and topics they feel are most important to their readers.
E-newsletters/Videos/Podcasts - advisors are sending specific messaging directly to their clients with the latest updates/announcements and words of advice during uncertain times.
You can implement many different strategies that will not break the bank like previous advertising expenses seen in the Moxie days. Advisory businesses do not need to have the budget of Coca-Cola to come out on top either!
Now is the time to turn a crisis into an opportunity and position yourself as an innovative advisor who is ready to service their clients, in the most effective ways - no matter what.
Since the great depression, dips, downturns and nosedives in the financial markets have set investors on edge. In the wake of Covid-19, the razor’s edge has never been thinner. As financial advisors well know, sleepless nights often transform into decisions that are more ill-conceived than prudent. Coaching investors through these uncertain times — before, during and after a crisis — is critical.
When the market drops, conversations with your clients become vital. The importance of those exchanges does not wane as a crisis abates or, in the case of the coronavirus, isolation becomes standard operating procedure. “Financial advisors need to connect with their clients to find out what concerns them,” says April-Lynn Levitt, a certified financial planner and business coach with The Personal Coach, which offers customized business coaching for advisors, in Oakville, Ont.
Dig deep, advises Chris Hornberger, a certified executive coach in Halifax. “You need to understand your clients’ specific concerns. Identify what they are worried about.”
Forward projections help you do that, Hornberger adds. Determine where clients want to be financially (and otherwise) in five years’ and 10 years’ time. Review their financial plans to see if, even in the midst or the wake of an economic upheaval, those goals still can be attained. If not, discuss how a plan could be revised to make them attainable.
Taking a step back in time with a client also can be beneficial, says Hornberger. “Ask them to recall a similar time previously when they were concerned. Ask them how they got through it. Ask them how their life — and their finances — were affected.”
Coaching clients is fundamentally about building trust. Will clients naturally turn to you after the storm has passed? “That is a measure of their trust in you when they reach out,” says Hornberger.
Hornberger adds that not receiving calls from clients is not necessarily a good thing before or after a crisis. “Do not assume if you are not hearing from clients [that] it is because they are not worried. If they do not hear from you, it can create distance.”
Looking at the issue from more than one angle and time frame can also help clients put any declines in financial markets in perspective. Covid-19 aside, market downturns are status quo. “Remind clients that we [recently were] in the 11th year of a bull market, which is historically much longer than normal, so downturns shouldn’t [have been] unexpected,” notes George Hartman, CEO of Market Logics Inc. in Toronto.
Coaching clients through uncertain times is about more than pointing to longer-term projections. “Play a leadership role when things are bad. Go beyond the investment information. See the big picture,” says Levitt. Coaching is ultimately about building a relationship that will stand the test of time and tumult. That relationship requires ongoing touchpoints as situations change, often at breakneck speed. “Communicate before, during and after,” says Levitt. “Define your market philosophy.”
Clients need to know you are there when they need you — and even when they don’t. But during downturns and their aftermath, visibility is paramount. “It’s about sharing. It’s about being proactive,” says Hornberger. “Reach out. Communicate early and often. Reassurance is central to this process.”
In situations such as market downturns, when you may be concerned that clients may blame you for poor performance, there’s a natural tendency to be guarded. “Our first instinct is often to defend,” says Levitt. “Our recommendation is to step back. Ask the client what concerns them; then you can offer solutions and advice.”
Stepping back can be hard, Levitt adds: “Clients can be confrontational. There is so much uncertainty, and it is not just financial.”
Clients aren’t the only ones who have anxious nights when the markets go in unwanted directions. You’re adversely affected in two significant ways. First, you’re worrying about your clients and their concerns. Second, you’re worried about your own business in both the short and long terms. Frightened clients can go elsewhere or exit the investment market altogether.
You also must focus on yourself when the going gets rough. “You need to take care of yourself. Meditate, exercise, get out in nature,” says Levitt. “You need to handle the stress and not get sick.”
You can feel better knowing you’ve laid a solid foundation for whatever crisis — natural disaster, market crash or pandemic — clients are in the midst of weathering. Indeed, your coaching role begins before there is anything to worry about, says Hartman: “The key to mitigating concern in market downturns is to prepare clients ahead of time for the inevitability that markets will likely be volatile during the time [clients] are invested.”
Hartman suggests you make a point of talking with your clients about the ups and downs of market performance during every annual review: “This should include historical performance illustrations, magnitude of decline [and] recovery periods.”
Managing clients’ expectations is essential, agrees Levitt: “Everyone will see a slowdown. Before anything happens, you should be talking to your clients about downturns.”
It is important to ensure you have a current market meltdown plan in place, Levitt notes: “This does not have to be complicated. If something happens, how can you be ready to reach out and to whom do you reach out personally? This is not a case of sending out just one email.”
Your meltdown plan will contain such information as which clients need to be on speed-dial for reassurance and which clients like to buy during a downturn. Your plan also will contain draft emails and templates that can be sent quickly to all or certain clients with little revision. Where appropriate, the information can reaffirm that there is insurance in place and/or a rainy-day fund.
“Emphasize [to] clients [that they] are working toward a goal — not reacting to market downturns,” stresses Levitt.
Post-crisis is an ideal time to update your plan: review what worked well, what worked as planned and what needs to be revised and rethought. As a crisis wanes, it also is an optimal time for you to identify gaps in your market meltdown plan and ensure those gaps are addressed for next time — because there will be a next time.
Your updated plan also must spell out how you will connect with clients, and continue to connect with them if you can no longer get to your office, if power service is more than sporadically interrupted or if concerned clients cannot meet with you face to face — perhaps because much of the community has been shuttered. Literally.
Having spent over 30 years in the financial services industry, I have found two things to be true; everything and nothing has changed with the day-to-day challenges advisors face.
Everything has changed with technology and moving from paper to electronic, regulatory requirements, fee disclosure, anti-spam requirements, the amount of back-end support, medical underwriting, saturated marketplace and competition, and the list goes on.
Nothing has changed with one simple fact; advisors need support to survive and thrive.
I’ve always enjoyed working with financial advisors. My most satisfying experiences have come from helping advisors turn their businesses from struggling to thriving. Being an advisor can be a lonely business, and often the piece of the puzzle that’s missing is having someone in your corner.
Since joining The Personal coach last Spring, I’ve been implementing practice management strategies into advisors’ businesses. It’s also been a privilege to be featured in Forum Magazine discussing COI relationships, representing the team at Advocis meetings, and addressing closed audience sessions with Faith Life Financial. Coming up next is sharing insights on understanding your finances at our Fall TPC GeneratorTM event.
Having The Personal Coach’s support to pursue my adventure is motivating and exciting. Most importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of an incredible team that leaves no stone unturned with the depth and breadth of their expertise. The Personal Coach has fantastic resources; HR support, team development, succession planning, marketing, and branding. As a team, we provide full-spectrum support for advisors. We often refer to ourselves as an extension of an advisor’s team. It’s rare to find a support team that has so many arrows in the quiver. This allows me to start each day with enthusiasm to help advisors find their way and fully develop their businesses and enjoy the fruits of their labours. I believe strongly that success in business is more likely to be achieved and, more importantly - savoured if it’s integrated with a fulfilling personal life. When we work together and clear out the clutter, we achieve success.
Our office has been working with Pat Giesbrecht for the past six months, and I am so happy with the results we are getting. We have completed many projects; DISC profiles, re-segmentation, written procedures, Contact Management changes, new technology implemented, job descriptions reviewed and solidified, the opportunity for all to share our progress, challenges, and successes. The best part is the teamwork this has inspired, the sharing, the helping and overall coming together for a common goal. It’s been far more comfortable for us to share the workload when our goals were clear. The staff took much of it on, were accountable, and excited about the changes.