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Five tips for building a brand that matters

Take it from April Rudin, "financial advisors need a brand that matters". Ahead of speaking about millennials and wealth management 2.0 at FundForum International this year, April gives you five tips you need to get to grips with.

Think about brands that people know and respect today: Google, Amazon, Apple. Since the financial crisis, banks and wealth managers have fallen in people’s esteem. Millennials came of age right when the legacy financial institutions failed them. Surveys and news headlines repeatedly tell us that millennials don’t trust or like banks, and they want other options. It should be no surprise that many bankers fear a threat from the big technology companies more than fintech startups. Apple has payment options now. What is stopping them from being the next generation’s wealth manager? Or look at Chinese tech giant Alibaba. It’s already breaking into the wealth management space! To compete and survive today, financial advisors need a brand that matters. Here are a few steps to get you started.

Understand and target your clients

Wealth management should be client-focused. It sounds obvious, but as an industry, wealth managers are still falling short in understanding themselves as relationship managers. Clients are rarely just one person. They’re families with spouses and a younger generation that also play important roles in money management. Wealth management can’t be one-size-fits-all approach. Not every millennial just wants a robo-advisor any more than every baby boomer wants a traditional financial advisor. The growth of technology will only help financial advisors focus on relationship management. With technology taking care of the mundane tasks and creating more efficient processes, financial advisors will have more time to focus on what counts- the clients.

Prepare for the next generation

There is $30 trillion in wealth set to be held by millennials in the next decade or so. Financial advisors need to assess if they are doing enough to get a piece of that pie. Millennials are savvy in their own right, and they’re not going to automatically rely on their parents’ wealth managers to carry them through their adulthood. Wealth managers need to be prepared to connect with millennials on their own turf, and demonstrate their value add. Below we’ll talk about some of the technology that is necessary to communicate with millennials in a way they want. The millennial mindset is open to trying new things, especially if it’s efficient. These young workers favor mobile banking, and have few qualms about exchanging money digitally. They’re even open to the idea of having accounts at branchless banks. Accenture found that nearly a fourth of millennials seek financial advice on social media, something only 3% of those over 55 reported doing. Meeting the digital needs of millennials is one hurdle for financial advisors, but that’s only the first step. Personalizing their experiences and meeting their expectations for a customized financial experience will be the next.

Have a website that works

Having a website that attracts and retains your clients is easier said than done. One FICO report found that 43% of millennials don’t think that their bank communicates with them through their preferred communication channels- email, text messages, the bank website, and a mobile app. Websites need to be relevant, easy to understand, and functional. Financial advisors should aim to translate their own expectations for online experiences as high end consumers to their online platform. A website is truly a blank slate for presenting your brand and what you have to offer clients. Your products and services should be highlighted and understandable. You should add value with focused reports, blogs, and videos that educate, demonstrate your knowledge, and inspire clients to turn to you for information. Think about what makes you turn away from a website. It likely involves an unappealing design, difficult navigation, and buried information. And don’t forget being mobile friendly. If you clients have to jump through hoops to find an answer to their question on your website, will that be reflected in the client relationships and service?

Understand the role of social media

You have a brand that matters, so how do you make sure that the right people see it? Your message needs to be broadcasted across multiple online and offline platforms, including social media. Social media isn’t just for sharing your family vacation photos, and all social media platforms are also not created equally. Financial advisors often forget to think about how they consume information. Again, as high end consumers themselves, financial advisors should be able to translate their personal expectations to their clients. Linkedin allows the easy distribution of thought leadership blogs in a professional network. Twitter allows for quick dissemination of headlines, photos, and videos. There are so many social media options today that each have their own value. Communicating the right messages across the right platforms will solidify your brand relevance.

Develop ‘thought leadership’

Beware the assumption that millennials just want robo-advisors! A recent study found that millennials are much more likely that their older counterparts to value financial education. About 24% rated education from their bank more important than other adults. As we’ve previously discussed, there are multiple ways to reach millennials across your website, social media, and offline. You as a financial advisor have the years of experience and expertise. It just needs to be translated into “thought leadership” nuggets that are useful and easily understood. Think about industry trends and market headlines and respond to them. Your thoughts are what can differentiate you from your competitors. Become your clients’, and the market’s, go-to source for education and information.

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