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7 Deadly Sins of Website Design

Thinking of revamping your website? Creating a new website can be tricky and overwhelming. From choosing the design to perfecting the content, the difficulties financial advisers face when trying to create a new site can seem endless—but there is hope. As you embark on your website design journey be sure to avoid these seven cardinal sins.

1.) Lack of content. While a simplistic site can be advantageous, too little content on your website can be detrimental. If working with a copywriter, you should come prepared and be able to articulate who you are, the services you provide, what those services cost and why you are passionate about your work. These are basic content areas that prospective clients visiting your site will be looking for and if not easily found, may cause them to leave your site look elsewhere.

2.) Impersonal. When a consumer chooses a financial adviser, they decide who to work with based ultimately on how they feel about the person providing the service. It is for this reason that the “About” or “Bio” page of an adviser’s website is almost always the second most-visited page after the homepage. You don’t need to overshare. Getting too personal right away might scare away prospective clients. However, in an industry that relies so heavily on trust, it is especially important to be personable. Simply including a photo of yourself and basic personal information can go a long way in making people more likely to trust you with their finances.

Prospective clients want to know who you are, why you do what you do, what your philosophy/approach is, and hear your story. If you can take it one step further and include a quick video introduction of yourself, even better. At the very least, include two great photos—one headshot and one more informal picture—such as you with your family or enjoying a hobby.

3.) Unidentifiable CTAs. Why do you want a website for your business? What’s the point? Whatever your answer may be—whether it’s to have people contact you, sign up for your newsletter or blog, take a risk assessment, etc., the point is for prospects and referrals to vet you and then take some sort of action step. If your call-to-action (CTA) is too difficult to find (or worse—you don’t have one at all), visitors likely won’t take any action at all. For this reason, it’s critical to make it immediately clear what the next step that you want them to take is.

4.) Ineffective CTAs. On the flip side, it’s just as harmful to have too many CTAs. Too many CTAs compete for users attention and can be overwhelming. If you hit your site visitors with too many CTAs at once, they can end up leaving without taking any of your desired next steps. Imagine visiting a site that immediately has a pop-up inviting you to “Get My Weekly Finance Tips Directly to Your Inbox.” Under the pop-up is a button encouraging you to “Download 5 Tips to Retire By 60” and this is located right next to another button that says, “Schedule Your Free Initial Portfolio Review.” All of these CTAs are too much all at once, cluttering a site and making it feel spammy. Having multiple CTAs is fine, but they should be placed throughout your website more naturally, on different subpages and allowing visitors to “find” them as they peruse your content.

5.) Too Much Static Content. Some static content is a good thing—it ensures that your marketing team doesn’t have to be churning out new material 24/7 and it can be comfortably consistent for visitors. However, relying solely on calculators, stock trackers and pre-written articles or content won’t cut it. If static content is the majority of the content on your website, chances are that is feels outdated and impersonal to visitors. Instead, try to find a nice split (rule of thumb is at least 50/50) between static and dynamic content. Try writing content that focuses on the services that you provide and describes how you’re different.

6.) Contact Forms. One of the biggest and most common mistakes in web design are sites that make it too difficult for prospective clients to figure out how to reach you. This includes having super long contact forms that no one wants to take the time to fill out, not having your contact information (phone number or email address) easy to find, and having incorrect or outdated contact information or no contact information at all. Stick to the basics – if you’re using a contact form, only ask visitors for the bare essentials (name, phone number, email, reason for inquiry). Additionally, it’s a good idea to include a distinct “Contact Us” page on your site to ensure visitors see it and make sure your contact information is up to date. Just remember, a web contact form is not a lead gen strategy!

7.) Not Setting Deadlines. Developing a schedule for yourself is the best way to prevent succumbing to this seventh deadly sin. Map out when that first website content draft is due, write down the date you need to send your designer feedback on layout and images and communicate to your website designer your desired site launch date. Not including deadlines for yourself—or not abiding by the deadlines you’ve set—promotes procrastination and makes it difficult to pick back up where you were in the process. Developing a strong, realistic timeline for yourself helps ensure that your website design process goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Sam_Russell_HeadshotSamantha Russell is the director of sales and marketing at Twenty Over Ten, a web development company that creates tailored, mobile-responsive websites for financial advisers. She’s spent the last five years empowering advisers to market themselves effectively online using digital tools. With a background in marketing, social media and public relations, Russell focuses on helping business owners understand the value of their online presence and connecting them with the marketing tools and digital solutions they need to effectively manage their brand and engage clients.

 


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Does Your Practice Have a High-Performance Team?

A high-performance team is a concept within organizational development which refers to a team, organization or virtual group that is highly focused on its goals to achieve superior business results.

A high-performance team is one in which you have the right people doing the right things the right ways for the right clients at the right times for the right reasons.

Do you have a high-performance team? The following checklist of behaviors and attributes of high-performance teams can help you figure that out:

  • Have a clear vision and are committed to a common purpose.
  • Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Are committed to ongoing, honest and effective communication. Included in this is: having tactical daily huddles; weekly and monthly team meetings; and strategic quarterly and annual off-site meetings.
  • Have a compelling and differentiating story that all team members can articulate.
  • Commit to high productivity daily. Included in this is utilizing time-blocking strategies; consistently utilizing a contact management system; engaging in effective workflow among team members; executing a task priority system; being purposeful and intentional in daily work with a high focus on proactivity; systematizing and documenting all repeated activities as standard operating procedures; spending 10 percent of time on the business every week; embracing technological resources to drive efficiency; and being cross-trained and having back-up systems.
  • Consistently demonstrate a positive, can-do and will-do attitude. This includes: going above and beyond job descriptions; being solutions-focused and committed to problem solving; and innovating to drive efficiency and productivity.
  • Have strong personal accountability. This includes believing in self-leadership; having short- and long-term goals; owning mistakes; frequently evaluating individual, team, and business performance; embracing giving and receiving constructive criticism; understanding role and value in the vision and overall success of the group; and ensuring that words and actions are consistently aligned.
  • Are committed to ongoing personal and professional growth. This includes being masters of their craft; engaging in all firm-provided professional development opportunities; investing in themselves; subscribing to valuable online and offline learning publications; and seeking professional credentials.
  • Are committed and respectful to the leader, the team and themselves. This includes embracing autonomy within their role and embracing collaboration within the team; respecting the ultimate decisions made; and seeking ways to help each other and the team succeed.
  • Celebrate successes. This includes making time to “smell the roses” and have fun together and recognizing each person’s contributions to the team.
  • Master the fundamentals. This includes setting the highest standards for their work; displaying integrity in all things; always putting the clients’ best interests first and foremost; and maintaining mutual respect and trust.

As you consider your staff and team members, identify opportunities for improvements to drive high performance.

Sarah E. Dale, President of Know No Bounds, LLC

 

Sarah E. Dale
Partner
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.

krista_sm

 

Krista S. Sheets
President
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.


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4 Ways to Retain Heirs

Ponder this worst-case scenario when it comes to introducing yourself to your client’s heirs: you’re at your client’s funeral and you offer both your condolences and a business card. The chances of those children and grandchildren calling you up after that are pretty slim.

Whatever you think of the younger generations—they’re lazy, entitled, glued to their phones—the fact remains that $24 trillion in wealth will transfer to them by 2030. They’ll need help. Introducing yourself to your clients’ heirs early and genuinely is the key to retaining that business.

Maria Quinn, adviser education specialist for Vanguard, told FPA Retreat attendees in April that there are ways to meaningfully engage with the adult children of your clients. First, Quinn advised, understand how the younger generations are different and how they perceive financial advice; second, fully engage both spouses; and last, authentically connect with the heirs of your clients.

In a 2015 Deloitte survey, 40 percent of boomers surveyed said their children work with a financial planner. Of that 19 percent said those children worked with a firm other than the ones the parents worked with and 21 percent worked with the existing firm.

Combined, Gen X and millennials (born between 1965 to 1997) are 141 million people. They’re different in the way they interact with financial planners. The acronym used to describe them is HENRY: high earner not ready yet. They will have wealth; they just don’t have it yet.

The younger generations are noted as the “401(k) generation,” Quinn said. They are saving automatically and don’t generally know where their money is invested. Both Gen X and millennials are socially conscious and express interest in learning more about retirement from their employer. Gen X tends to be distrustful of the financial advice industry while millennials see it as being too sales oriented.

But a smart move in reaching that next generation is to form a relationship with their mothers. Quinn said that many advisers tend to ignore the wife in client couples.

“She may be quiet in the room, but don’t think she doesn’t have opinions,” Quinn said. “She controls about 90 percent of the decisions. You want her in the room. You want to make sure you’re engaging her as much as you can.”

Some examples Quinn offered attendees to authentically connect with clients’ families were:

Do something special for your favorite clients. Quinn noted a planner who’d planned an 80th birthday party for his favorite client, pleasing her and impressing the family alike.

Offer pro-bono services for life events. Offer to do a financial plan for your clients’ children when you hear they are getting married or are expecting a baby. This could help forge a new client relationship and loyalty for years to come.

Pair up young advisers with young clients. Quinn said pairing up your clients’ children with your firm’s younger advisers would also be helpful. It would get that next-generation business in the door, while giving your next-generation advisers some valuable experience.

“Younger investors like to have a cultural similarity with the advisers that they’re working with,” Quinn said.

Be a savvy communicator. Quinn encourages planners to utilize technology to make a positive impression. She noted that the next generation of clients will do a Google search on you, and you want to be sure that what they find is appealing. Also, note that this generation probably doesn’t prefer phone calls, but rather emails and texts.

“If you do have clients whose children you want to make meaningful connections with,” Quinn said, “determine the most effective way to initiate engagement and establish a strategy for sustaining engagement.”


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Middle Child Syndrome: Seeking the Gen X Factor

Did you know Kurt Cobain would have turned 50 this year? The ‘90s are back in vogue with flannel button-downs, chokers and logo T-shirts trending once again. While the styles exemplifying the so-called Generation X are all the rage, this cohort between baby boomers and millennials is often forgotten in one critical area: wealth management.

When is the last time you had a conversation with these wealth builders in the middle? If you haven’t yet picked up the phone to call a boomer’s Gen-X beneficiaries, you may be missing a great opportunity to maintain a relationship once wealth has been transferred. And that wealth will certainly reach Gen X far before it reaches millennials.

Gen-Xers are already a captive audience for financial advice because many are well on their way toward saving for retirement. It’s worth noting that this is the first generation that can’t rely on a pension or defined benefit plan, and many instead opt to participate in their employer-sponsored retirement plan. They are also likely to be the first group without the fallback of Social Security if funds are tapped, as expected, by 2035, according to a June 2016 article on CNN Money.

This group is also already fluent in “adulting.” Often preferring a 9-to-5 job over a freelance economy gig, Gen-Xers’ steady income makes for sound long-term planning. They often have less debt to overcome than millennials, and with college and home ownership costing far more now than a generation ago, Gen-Xers consequentially have greater equity. They are also far less likely to crowdsource their next financial move, instead opting to pay a premium for quality service with a real person.

But it’s not too late to start engaging Gen X prospects. Here are some tips for knowing when and how to connect with this key demographic:

• Gen-Xers don’t want to be called only after a life event takes place. Including them in the conversation early on shows that you are interested in the long-term well-being of their family and helps foster trust.
• Advisers should consider a longer view by taking on the high-probability prospects that may not yet meet certain asset thresholds or those who have assets in a plan they cannot yet access. By offering fee-based services that may fit other immediate needs like financial planning or debt consolidation, advisers can focus on the prospect and not just the asset.
• Many Gen-Xers are starting families or already are thinking about the future of their growing children. These clients would benefit from working with an adviser on their own estate planning or saving for college, creating a multi-generational pipeline of prospects.

The opportunity is out there for the taking. But don’t take it for granted: Gen-Xers are also one of the first generations to heavily adopt technology and advisers may risk losing a client to a robo-adviser or other financial advice model if making that first call takes too long. It takes only one life event for assets to be transferred. Will you be the one they call?

To read more tips that can help engage Gen-Xers, visit our Wealth Management resources.

Matt Sommer

 

Matt Sommer
Vice President and Director, Retirement Strategy Group
Janus Capital Group
Denver, CO

 


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7 Steps to Building a Business Breakthrough

Have you ever been stuck atop a production plateau or seen your business head in a steady decline and wondered what it would take to turn your business around? Most advisers and agents go through peaks, valleys and crossroads at some point in their careers. There are many ways to pivot and change your trajectory if you find yourself in need of a re-route. Here are a few of my suggested steps to help you.

Step 1: Choose to Succeed
It may sound simplistic but success is a choice, either you desire to succeed or you don’t. To take the first step toward positive outcomes you have to want to move in the right direction. So, if you are tired of being where you are you must make a conscious decision to do want it takes to ensure change actually happens or the status quo will continue.

Step 2: Adopt a Great Attitude
It’s been said that, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” Adopting a great attitude starts by understanding that nobody is responsible for your success but you. How you look at your circumstances is a choice that you must make every day. You will always be faced with obstacles but if you view them as an opportunity to grow you can turn them into triumphs. Start each day with an attitude of gratitude for all that you have and watch how quickly other aspects of your business and your life start to fall into place.

Step 3: Create Systems to get Results
No one ever built a great business by winging it. When you are truly honest with yourself you will realize that creating processes and systems for every aspect of your business, time management, prospecting, sales, client servicing and so on is the best way to get results. The secret to creating systems is to duplicate other’s successes by learning and implementing their systems. So ask someone you look up to in your business, what is working for them? Why re-invent the wheel?

Step 4: Take Massive Action
It has also been said that, “The distance between dreams and reality is action.” And, the more action you take the higher the likelihood that you’ll succeed. Let’s face it, you can have a fantastic system but if you don’t actually implement or integrate it then it is merely a wasted resource. Conversely, taking massive action ultimately generates both motivation and momentum.

Step 5: Track Your Progress
Measuring your milestones is a terrific way to enjoy the journey. In order to know if you are on the right path you must consistently track and evaluate your progress. It can be as simple as adding people to your pipeline daily or as complex as recording dials, contacts, new prospects, appointments and accounts. Knowing where you were and where you are now will help keep you moving toward where you want to be.

Step 6: Reward Yourself
As you accomplish your goals, it’s important to reward yourself along the way. Rewards act as a motivator to continue taking daily action because it provides an added incentive to push a little harder towards your end goal. Some successful advisers and agents use a simple reward system like allowing themselves to get a cup of coffee only after having contacted five new prospects. When you use this type of reward system consistently you form great habits to continue building your business.

Step 7: Make Course Corrections
To reach your peak potential, it’s important to make course corrections from time to time. Take for instance having a proven cold calling prospecting system that a successful colleague used to build his or her business. He or she was kind enough to map out their system for you, you took action, recorded milestones and rewarded yourself but success seems to be happening at a slower pace for you than you had expected. Chances are that you may need to make a slight course correction around who your target market is, tweaking what you say or how you are handling objections to duplicate their success.

Why Building a Business Breakthrough System Works
Business breakthroughs don’t happen overnight. It takes time to implement each step until you find the pace and formula that works for you. Now that you understand a bit more about what is involved to get going, all you need to do next is to take that first step towards your destination.

Are you using some or all these steps to have your own business breakthrough? To learn more, schedule a 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

 

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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4 Questions to Attract More Clients

There are just four questions that every financial adviser must answer if they want to attract more clients. If you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to more effectively communicate your message to prospects so that they will want to work with you.

No. 1: Who’s Your Ideal Client?

When advisers think about their business and how they help people, they tend to think the most about the services they provide. Things like the types of planning they offer, the investments and products they use for clients, the process they walk clients through, etc., but we rarely focus on defining who we serve.

The financial advisers that will survive and thrive over the long term will define their business not by the service they offer but by the people they serve.

They know exactly who their ideal client is.

No. 2: What Value Do You Provide?

You undoubtedly provide a lot of great advice to your clients. But what do your clients value the most? What’s most important to them?

Do they care about investment selection, the products, the process, your credentials, your years of experience or your past performance? I’m sure they do.

But there’s actually only one thing that your clients value above all else: their transformation.

They are seeking the positive change they experience by working with you. They want the end result. How do I know this? It’s because people buy the destination, not the plane ride.

What is the destination your clients are trying to get to? What’s the ideal end result you can help them achieve? This is the real value you give to clients and prospects.

No. 3: How Do You Clearly Communicate Your Value?

If you’re the greatest financial adviser in the world but you don’t know how to clearly communicate your value to ideal prospects, then you won’t be in business very long. If you cannot clearly communicate your value to people, nothing else you’re doing in your business really matters.

Many good advisers have failed because they didn’t know how to clearly communicate their value.

The best advisers are able to engage in a conversation with a complete stranger and within two minutes, that stranger fully understands how that adviser helps people. Even better, that stranger will have enough curiosity and excitement that they want to hear more from the adviser.

If you’re able to naturally start the conversation with people, you’ll have no trouble getting people in the door. And If you can communicate your value, you’ll have no problem getting people to become your clients.

No. 4: How Will You Consistently Attract and Acquire New Clients?

This is the most important question that advisers need to answer. It’s also the one most advisers have a hard time answering.

How do you find new clients? Most advisers rely on referrals to get new business. Some others still do seminars, lunches, cold calling and networking events. Those techniques are good but there are more and more advisers turning to newer ways of attracting prospects to them. Techniques such Linkedin referrals, Facebook ads, blogging and webinars are quickly growing in favor with advisers. This is because they are less expensive and more profitable than the “old school” ways of getting new clients. But there’s also a steep learning curve to these. You shouldn’t let that stop you from testing them out. When you find the technique that works for you, stick with it and focus all your energy there.

Take five minutes and try to answer these four questions. And be honest with yourself. If you’re having trouble with one of the questions, start exploring new ways to try and answer it. If you need ideas, download the accompanying guide to help you out.

dave-zoller

 

Dave Zoller, CFP®
Financial Adviser
Streamline My Practice
Warrenville, IL


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Beta Testing Change in Your Ensemble Practice

I’ve spent decades consulting on practice management issues and had countless conversations with advisers wanting to make some sort of change in their practices. One adviser might want to hire a new employee to increase efficiency. Another might want to move into a new, more upscale office space. Yet another might want to bring other types of advisers into the practice, such as rainmakers or service advisers.

As the trend of shifting from a solo to a group or ensemble practice continues to gain steam in our industry, it’s important to realize some of the challenges going into partnership with other advisers can present.

Barriers to change

A partnership is a bit like a marriage. Your adviser partners come to the table with their own established values, perceptions and opinions. And just because one partner thinks a particular business change is a profoundly good idea, it doesn’t mean another partner (or partners) will share that belief. For example, say you think your firm should incorporate a formal business management process to help you target client acquisition and revenue goals. Your two partners disagree, arguing the following:

  • Why do we need to have a business plan? We know what we’re doing.
  • What’s the point of defining a niche? We’d have to turn down business.
  • There’s no need to create and stick to an ideal client profile.
  • Why is it important to track overhead? We can pay our bills just fine.
  • Documenting processes seems like a waste of time.
  • Who needs production goals? We’re earning enough.
  • Why do we need to create continuity agreements? None of us is going anywhere.

What do you do when you feel strongly about how to run the business more effectively and your partners put up barriers like these? Do you ignore the issue and simply learn to live with the status quo? Do you have a serious life-or-death discussion with them about the future of the firm? Or is there another option?

Beta testing change

Instead of giving up, or beating your head against a wall trying to convince others to see things your way, offer to implement the change you’re seeking in your own corner of the firm as a beta test. Of course, this requires your full commitment to the change. You’ll also need to develop a formal method for measuring the impact of the change you make. After an appropriate period of time, you can then share the results of your beta test with your partners and see if they’re now ready to agree with you.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to grow revenue. To do so, all new clients you take on have to meet your ideal client profile. You’ll want to calculate the return on this investment for your partners. You might also want to track how you help prospects who aren’t a good fit, particularly if your partners were adamant about not turning away any clients. The bigger the change you want to make, the longer it will take to document results, so try starting with a small change first, to make your point.

What is the value in this sort of beta test? You get to implement a change you believe in. You eliminate some of the frustration you were feeling. And everyone in the firm moves toward data-driven decision making.

Will this approach work in every situation? Probably not. But it can be a particularly effective technique for positioning specific changes to your partners. After all, results speak for themselves.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.