Best Practices for Refining Your Personal Brand
Let’s start with the obvious: the financial advisory business is a personal business. Our success depends on building relationships with our clients — relationships built on trust. And then, as financial planners and wealth managers, we must perform and communicate in a way that reinforces that trust. We can’t just pull clients in the front door; we have to keep them engaged for life-long, multi-generational relationships.
The same imperatives apply to the way we position ourselves in the marketplace. As a financial advisor, you must back up the image and brand you project publicly by excellent service and communication. Easy, right?
Well, kind of… The easiest way to do that is to make sure that your brand is built on who you really are as a financial advisor, as a professional, and, above all, as a person. Remember: it’s a personal business.
The problem is that the financial advising industry has a trust problem. In a way, it makes sense. If you put yourself in the client’s position: the alphabet soup of certifications; the variety of compensation methods; the uncertainty of the financial markets; and above all, the emotional implications of investors’ finances for their sense of security and wellbeing — all of these factors and more combine to create a high-stakes situation for anyone considering the hiring of a financial advisor. Add to that potent mix the next headline about a high-profile scam, and establishing a personal brand that communicates trust becomes vital to the long-term success of your firm and your career.
Start with You
Not surprisingly, branding yourself begins in the digital space with the bio on your website and your social media accounts. This is where you begin to tell your story to clients and potential clients, and the way you present that story matters very much. Your aim for your bio should be to make it easy for readers to connect with you not only as a knowledgeable and ethical professional, but also as a person. In order for investors to entrust you with their financial life goals, they must feel that they know you at some personal level.
Use your bio to tell your story not write a resume. What differentiates you and your firm from the competition? What is your unique value proposition (UVP)? Why are you passionate about this business? What factors in your service to clients, your communication practices, your investment philosophy, or your approach to financial planning position you as the logical choice for the client’s needs? And by the way, your story does not consist merely of your professional credentials and honors. Remember the old saying, “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Clients want to know why they should trust you. Use your story to give them the reasons.
Beyond AUM practices an easy 4-step process to get you started on your story outline:
1. Who are you and what is your role?
2. Why are you passionate about the financial advisory business? (this is the personal part)
3. How do you serve your clients and what benefits does it bring? (UVP)
4. What accomplishments are you proud of?
Make It All Work Together
Beyond projecting your personality and UVP through your bio, you will need to consider the ways in which the overall design and layout of your website and other online channels work to enhance the image you intend to project. This can include everything from the color palette to the organization and font choices. You may wish to consider budgeting for an outside resource that can offer expert advice on-site architecture, design, and online strategy. You may need to acquire an updated, professional headshot (which you will need to periodically re-update), a copywriter or professional editor, and perhaps a media or public speaking coach, if you intend extensive use of video or public appearances in order to establish your expertise and name recognition (and don’t forget that 70% of marketers state that video has the highest conversion rate of any medium).
Above all, your online presence should accurately reflect your personal style and your professional approach. Especially now, when online contact is the main way of communicating with the world, you should make your online branding as consistent as possible with the experience clients would have with you if they were meeting with you in person.
Remember: every touchpoint with clients and prospective clients matters, especially in the digital world. To build your online credibility and visibility, focus on matching your personal branding with what is most authentic about you and your firm.