Use technology to fix the trust problem
How to find a financial advisor? Whether you’re a financial services company or an advisor that represents one, this is the question you should be thinking about since you want & need one thing more than anything else, clients. Without clients it doesn’t matter how amazing your products & services are, what your credentials are, or how many years you’ve been in business. Without clients you don’t have a business that can survive. Putting ourselves into our clients shoes helps us understand what they are looking for, especially when it comes to finding a financial advisor.
We can all agree on this, so figuring out how to find a financial advisor from the client’s perspective is of the utmost importance. Although we can use tech to solve the trust issue we have to dig deeper into the human side to understand what it all means so we can create tech that actually has humans in mind. HumanTech is the future and how we at Couplr are solving for the question of how to find a financial advisor. Keep reading….
The Difficult Supply and Demand of Trust
The terms “financial advice” and “financial advisor” are searched on Google up to 1 million times a month, each. Let that sink in.
The number of consumers searching for a financial advisor is on the rise[ML1] . And at the same time the number of available financial planners has been falling for a decade[ML2] . Demand is high and growing, while supply is low and falling. Financial advisors “shouldn’t” have trouble finding clients and staying in business, right?
As financial planning professionals and employers know, it is not that simple. Consumers want to find professional financial advice as much as financial professionals want to find new clients. Yet it is not a simple supply and demand curve of services. Consumers are shopping for trust and connection as much as they are shopping for advice and services.
People believe financial advice would be beneficial
Many consumers, more and more all the time, believe that the idea of receiving professional financial advice would be beneficial, but trust looms large as a major concern – and trust is different for different groups[ML3] . Women place more weight (and trust) in recommendations by friends and family. Men place more emphasis on the sales presentation.
As much as consumers want financial advice, they also need to trust who the advice is coming from if a professional financial relationship is to form. And if advisors are not great sales people or they are not already connected to the consumer through a friend or family member, trust can be difficult to build into an actionable result. Essentially, trust is a tough sell for many and this is likely why financial professionals see such a high rate of turnover in their first five years[ML4] .
Interestingly, and regardless of gender or age, another very common way trust is built beyond friends and family is prior connection with the financial firm or financial brand[ML5] . A consumer of insurance products would be more likely to engage with investment services from the same company purely based on brand recognition, loyalty, and or reputation. Brand recognition and brand loyalty are leverageable firm assets that may help (newer or growing) advisors to connect with more leads and have more success.
Often referred to as orphan clients, large financial institutions may not be effectively reconnecting with clients who have lost their financial professional. Financial institutions that can reconnect and utilize their brand loyalty and trust can help new and growing financial professionals, clients who do want a deeper professional relationship, and the firm gaining more assets and loyalty from the re-engaged client.
Market To Transitions And Utilize Brand Loyalty
Brand recognition goes a long way in establishing a base-layer of trust. However, this is not, in and of itself, often enough to “make the sale”. There are many consumers of professional financial advice (past active clients or orphan clients) that spend time between advisors – they had a professional in the past and then they don’t, and then eventually they will work with one again. What often prompts re-engagement (it also prompts general engagement) is a transition. In situations when trust has already been established through brand recognition or loyalty the sale is not more trust, the sale is transition support.
People in active, professional financial relationships start those relationships or seek out those relationships because they were experiencing a transition[ML6] . Getting ready for retirement is a big one, but there are many other transition examples – weddings, new homes, children and grandchildren, divorce, or widowhood.
Moreover, sending marketing messages out about different transitions is motivating especially for those that already “trust” a particular brand. Firms and advisors may not know exactly when a prospect will enter into a transition but planting those transition seeds with consumers that already have a connection to the brand will make connecting that much more top of mind when a transition takes place.
Financial institutions with many orphan clients or lists of clients that have, for example, purchased life insurance and nothing else can benefit from doing some transition advertising. Transitions are painful and when people are in pain they are very motivated to make that pain go away. Having received marketing messages about different life transitions, when that client finds themselves in distress they will be more willing and ready to reach out for support and re-engage with a deeper professional financial relationship.
Leverage Technology For Re-Connection to find an advisor
Transitions are really hard. No one wants to go through them alone. Prospective clients are more likely to begin and orphans are more likely to re-ignite their search for a financial professional when they enter into a transition in order to escape the pain. The tricky part is managing the window(s) that exist between transition events as well as connecting quickly when a transition begins. As such, a key to transition connections is leveraging technology to connect with the prospect as soon as possible.
Technology, like Couplr, is helping financial institutions learn about how consumers of financial advice make the decision to work with a financial professional or purchase different financial products. Most financial institutions must wait until the consumer is ready for action – which causes a lot of issues. When the financial institutions are waiting and reacting, as opposed to using technology to understand and nurture relationships ongoing, there is intense competition for those few clients ready to take action.
Nurture clients to action
Also, clients in that action mode, are stressed out (which is why they are ready to do something) but they are also feeling vulnerable and cautious and may very well be put off by the cold sales and competition from varied financial institutions in their stressed state even if what is being “sold” is help. Clearly, trust is a factor here. Technology, like Couplr, can keep Orphan clients (as well as new prospects) connected through transition marketing, so that when people do need help it is easier to find (which helps the client) and easier to connect (which helps the financial firm).
But what happens when the client is ready for financial advice, how do they find a financial advisor? How do they find a financial advisor they can trust? Well, when they are ready they should be able to drive the entire process and find the best financial advisor for them based upon more than ZIP code and net worth.
Utilize technology to be more human
Firms that utilize technology can begin to understand how consumers need to be supported in their quest for financial services, products, and relationships. Sales pipelines can be designed and organized so that more prospects and orphan clients are being given the communications they need to feel connected and nurtured, bringing the relationship to action over waiting for the consumer to be ready for action. And then when they are ready, giving clients the right experience (tech) to actually find the right advisor so they can take action. Sales pipelines also provide financial institutions with a better understanding of sales which helps them to support new or growing financial advisors stay busy.
The industry of financial advice is changing. Consumers are demanding trust alongside products and services. Utilizing technology can help both consumers and financial institutions learn about one another and create stronger relationships.
If you’re a consumer, know we are working hard to fix this problem for you and feel free to share this with anyone you think might be able to act on our solution. If you’re a financial services company and/or a financial advisor that represents them please learn more about Couplr and reach out to learn how Couplr can help your potential customers find their perfect financial advisor.
Meghaan Lurtz, Ph.D
Derek Notman, CFP