Archive for April, 2012

Do Advisors Still Need A Website? YES!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Hardly a week goes by that you don’t see an article questioning whether or not advisors need to have a website. This question has become especially prevalent as blogs have grown in popularity. Is a blog enough? My answer is an emphatic no! Blogs are great and I recommend them to those with the discipline to commit to one – but your blog should complement, not replace your website; you still need a high-quality website.

(While I am focusing on Advisor websites, the same general principles hold for other financial services companies as well – investment managers, mutual fund companies, sponsors, etc.)

Most prospects and clients utilize the internet – at the end of the day, not having a website sets off more of a red flag than anything else. In this age of full transparency – let’s not forget Madoff – the last thing you want is for someone to question your legitimacy. For prospects, a good website is a great way to set your credibility before they even meet you. For clients – who are likely to want on-line access to their accounts – why not provide the portal so that they can always see what is new on your site when they sign into their accounts? What a great – and free – way to highlight your latest newsletter for example.

A 2011 survey by Fidelity found that 44% of millionaires looked to the internet when searching for money managers. 75% of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s advisors now have websites as do about 80% of Merrill Lynch advisors. Especially for an independent RIA, how do you explain not having one when so many of your competitors do?

Now, some advisors think that not having a website has a certainty aura and mystery in and of itself. They prefer to have clients give prospects a verbal referral. To me this thinking is outdated. It assumes that the prospect can find you without the internet, which may not be the case. There might be some exceptions – advisors who get all of their clients from one small geographic area for example – but this to me is more the exception than the rule.

Finally, and importantly – your website has to be very good – it has to be both visually appealing and have top-notch content which differentiates you from the competition.

Remember all of those articles I alluded to up front? It drives me crazy when they say that the website can be a simple electronic business card, or that you can do it yourself for around $500. No. No. No. If you are going to have a website – it needs to reflect the same high quality of your entire business. Remember the old saying, if you can’t do it right…..

How To Win A Finals Presentation

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

In today’s increasingly competitive institutional marketplace, where the number of overall searches has declined over the past few years, and it has become harder and harder for many managers to differentiate themselves from the competition, it’s more important than ever to take full advantage of every new business opportunity that you are presented with. Getting to a finals presentation is hard enough, but there are several keys to winning the finals once you are there.

(This is from a presentation I gave last week at IMI’s Consultant Congress in San Francisco; while it is geared toward money management firms, many of the concepts can be used in any finals presentation – including those with high net worth individuals.)

Click here to see my Top 10 List – Winning the Solutions-Oriented Finals (I’m no David Letterman, but I try!)

A few highlights:

Conventional wisdom used to be that you always brought either the portfolio manager or principal with you to a finals presentation. In my opinion, however, this notion has changed. Who you bring to the finals should depend on the client and what your research and the consultant tell you are the prospects hot buttons. Sure, if it is a stock-picking firm, it might be prudent to bring one of the portfolio managers. But if the prospect has bad client experiences, of example, and is more interested in meeting the people that they will be interacting with on a regular basis, then that should dictate your choice of presenters. This is especially the case if the manager or principal is not a very good presenter!

The above point is only one of many of the top ten which are linked by the reality that your chances of winning are much better if you do your research upfront and make the presentation as customized and personal to the prospect as possible. Even the simple gesture of putting their logo next to yours on the cover of the presentation shows effort on your part.

A few of the old conventional wisdom’s about finals presentations have not changed however. Never talk about or bad mouth the competition – this should be about you not them. And don’t forget – you have to ask for the business at the end. Let them know how important this mandate is to your firm – you can be sure that your competition will.

Can You Articulate Your Value Proposition?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This is the title of our latest White Paper, and the title assumes that you have a value proposition. Perhaps it’s better to ask: Do you know why clients choose to work with you over the competition? And if so, can you articulate this competitive advantage and use it as a tool to help you grow your business?

The White Paper will help you answer both questions by outlining what a value proposition is, why they are important, how to create one and how to utilize it in your marketing efforts. Click here to download the full piece.

To highlight, a strong value proposition will help you connect emotionally with people, and people are more likely to do business with people that they can relate to. It will also create a strong point of differentiation between you and the competition, will help you define your target market as a precursor to developing (or redeveloping) your asset gathering strategies and marketing plan, and can help you:

  • Increase the quantity and quality of leads and referrals
  • Gain market share in your targeted markets
  • Enhance your presentation and close more business
  • Improve your operating efficiency
Finally, it’s a great way to jump-start your referral activity. Many clients are probably willing to make introductions for you, but may be reluctant because they don’t know exactly what to say. Arming clients with your value proposition gives them the ammunition and confidence to make a concise yet powerful statement to people that they know.