by Tony Vidler
Who do most people turn to first for financial advice?
Research in multiple countries and jurisdictions repeatedly shows that the number one source of advice for consumers who do not currently take financial advice from a professional is their family, closely followed by their friends. The numbers vary with each study, and I’ve seen some suggesting numbers as low as 29% of consumers turn to family first, and some suggesting that up to 67% do. The consistent outcome in each of the studies though is that family tops the list. Regardless of how the research has been conducted and how many choices were given to consumers to select from, there is a sizeable proportion of the consumers that we have not reached yet who are seeking advice from those who we have reached.
That suggests to me that one of the smartest marketing moves a financial adviser could make would be to ensure that that achieved have “top of mind awareness” with their existing clients.
When someone turns to one of your clients wanting advice, the ideal outcome will be that your client says “you need to talk to my adviser…..”
I am consistently told that this doesn’t seem to happen though (or not happen often enough).
So what are we missing here? Why aren’t the advised consumers telling the non-advised consumers who ask them for advice to go see an actual adviser?
The answer is simple: we are not top of mind.
Becoming “top of mind” is however more than simply being “the adviser” they think of when someone asks about “an adviser”. If we are doing a good job of delivering advice and service to our clients we would hope that they do in fact think of us if someone asked the pointed question “is there an adviser you recommend”. Top of mind awareness in practical terms extends well beyond this and is about your name being linked to the resolution of particular problems.
Great positioning in clients minds for an adviser is when they are thought of as the “problem solver” or “the person who knows all about that stuff”. To create ongoing top of mind awareness then we have to continually – I repeat “continually” – link ourselves to particular issues and problems.
That is very different to linking ourselves to technical knowledge, or qualifications, or a “process”. As much as we might try to reinforce the value of a 6-step-professional-advice-process and our expertise in portfolio management or business risk assessment they simply do not translate in most consumers minds to a particular problem being fixed.
It follows that this is where we must focus our marketing to our existing clients. We must continually talk to them about the things we can fix and the problems that we can make disappear. In every meeting our questions and prompts should be focussed on particular problems and issues – even if they are not apparently an issue of the moment we must still mention them. If we are talking to a long-standing client about their portfolio performance we need to link that to how we have fixed, or are fixing, the retirement planning concern. Even though they know we do retirement planning because that is exactly what we have done for them, once they have become clients and we all get immersed in the reporting of progress, we tend to forget the issue that drove us to the process to begin with. So linking the performance reporting to “not having to worry about having enough in retirement” is important for creating the awareness in our client that the particular problem we fix is “not having to worry“.
It is these sorts of outcomes or issues that we need to write about in newsletters and blogs, or share useful information about in our social media channels, or talk about at BNI or seminars. The key to creating that top of mind awareness in our own clients minds so that they recommend or refer us when their family and friends raise issues, is for us to be continually talking about those same issues. That constant reminder that we are on top of those issues is what creates the top of mind awareness in clients that we need.
Our qualifications, technical knowledge, service levels or all-round-awesomeness-as-a-human-being does not create the awareness. Being constantly linked in our clients minds with particular issues or problems is. Therein lies the answer to us being thought of as the answer when the friends and family start asking for advice from our clients.