Investor trust in 2021 is stuck at the low levels of 2009. It is in the basement of occupational trust levels, just above car salespeople, according to Gallup. According to Knut Rostad, co-founder and president of the Institute for Fiduciary Standards, in his opinion piece published by Advisor Perspectives:
Rostad quotes me in the article this way:
Marie Swift, who contributed to New Frontiers, described what this means. Marie’s commentary is rich:
I have been preaching for 20 years that credibility marketing is the key to success. Families, individuals and companies want to know that the financial teams being considered are trustworthy and competent. (So) being quoted in or published by a highly credible media outlet (is valuable).
(On your website) have a mix of interesting self-published content (and include) authentic depictions of the advisor / and or team doing good works in the community (and) spending time with family, pets and nature (because) a bit of more personalized content helps prospects and clients see that you share their values and world view …. Work at showing the character and culture of the firm.
My hypothesis: its brute honesty and clarity about the professional relationship that reveal core values that can cut through the distrust and cynicism that makes financial reps / advisors viewed like car salesman (Gallup). Even the SEC’s own research suggests so re: fees."
Authenticity Marketing + Credibility Marketing = A Formula for Success
I thought it might be helpful if I shared, with Knut's permission, some of the back-and-forth that Knut and I had leading up to the article's final formation and publication by Advisor Perspectives.
In his initial volley to me, Knut said:
I love the spirit of millennials (we both have em!) and I get changing out of the corporate suit into the personal suit, (superman? (>:) ) but some of the authenticity discussion seems to suggest if you share your lust for travel and country western music with the prospective client … job done.
My hypothesis: its brute honesty and clarity about the professional relationship that reveal core values that can cut through the distrust and cynicism that makes financial reps / advisors viewed like car salesman (Gallup).
Even the SEC’s own research suggests so re: fees.
I provided these thoughts to build on Knut's statement above:
When Bob Veres of Inside Information and Matthew Jackson of Dialektic Consulting interviewed me for the New Frontiers paper they asked what I saw as key drivers of success for financial advisors and to touch on the past, present and future trends I'm seeing now.
For the past fifteen or twenty years, I've been preaching that PR and credibility marketing is the key to success -- and I still think that's right. Families, individuals, and companies want to know that the financial teams being considered are trustworthy and competent. Now that internet searches are a part of the due diligence process for most people, one way that we can assess the competency and trustworthiness of any service provider is to Google around and see what comes up.
Being quoted in or published by a highly credible media outlet is a sure-fire way to impress those with a discerning mind, plus being mentioned in these authoritative media outlets can over time significantly improve online visibility. Think of all the cross-linking like a big spider web in the woods -- you are more likely to catch some interesting opportunities if you are highly visible and cross-linked across the World Wide Web.
Once the interested party gets to your website or other platforms where you control the content (e.g., blog, social media, podcast channel, author page on Amazon, syndicated news releases, YouTube or another video platform), it is good to have a mix of interesting self-published content available for consumption. Part of the content mix should include authentic depictions of the advisor and/or their team doing good works in the community, working in a teamly fashion together, spending time with family, pets, nature, etc. By showing a bit of more personalized content, current and prospective clients come to see that you share their values and worldview.
A study by the NY Times Insights group some years ago showed that people tend to share content with friends, family, and colleagues when the message and imagery resonates with them on a more personal level. This means that advisors need to work at showing the character and culture of their firm. Photos of the advisor attending a professional conference where they are proud to be seen in the company of the others attending, articles that the advisor has been quoted in or that they agree with the information provided, and videos/audios/webinar recordings that educate and potentially lightly entertain (edu-tainment) are excellent ways to show your pro-personal side.
Part of the strategy should be to talk about and be transparent when it comes to your fee structure and business model.
People want to feel good about their professional advisory choices. They want to know why you took the path you did -- and what you stand for, passionately, because you are adamant that this is the right way to work with and serve clients. You want them to say to the people they refer something that reinforces your honesty, trustworthiness, competency, business model and fee structure, and oh by the way, "they are really nice people who share similar values and see the world the same way as I do."
So, yes. Pro-personal marketing is a good philosophy to embrace. Done right, it's really a blend of PR and credibility marketing, thoughtful content marketing, and continual digital communications, with a good sprinkling of authenticity that balances both personal and professional elements in the communications and perception mix.
While in Nashville last week for the Bob Vere's Insider's Forum, Knut Rostad was named "Fiduciary of the Year."
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