According to Greg Friedman, CEO of Junxure, this increased level of distrust has come “in the wake of large-scale instances of fraud [Bernie Madoff] and market and economic volatility [the financial crisis],” leaving behind cautious prospects who “now interview several firms before choosing one to manage their future and build their legacy.”
More than trusting you with their money, your clients are trusting you with their livelihoods—their lives.
With that in mind, “the most striking—and alarming—finding in [the CFA Institute’s Global Market Sentiment Survey] is the same every year,” writes Robin Powell of ValueWalk, “CFA members’ biggest concern does not have to do with the markets or the economy, but with the lack of trust in the financial industry itself. Among its members, 63 percent—up from 54 percent last year—blamed this on a ‘lack of ethical cultures’ within financial firms.”
So how do you begin to overcome the dark cloud of mistrust?
Your online presence is a good place to start since the most common source of information today is the Internet. When the majority of prospective clients are seeking financial services online and your website doesn’t look and read right, you’ve already raised suspicion.
First impressions still count for a lot. According to Friedman, “Your true first impression starts with the initial meeting with a potential client, and make no mistake—this is a beauty contest.” While I agree that a beauty pageant is afoot, I’ll go so far as to say that you’re personally not in the running for making a first impression but your website is.
That first interaction with prospective clients is frequently occurring online without you, so it’s essential that the traditional methods you’d employ to establish trust in person are reflected in your website.
One way to succeed is by maintaining a presentable, professional appearance. A well-designed website is like a well-designed suit—it imbues the owner with a sense of respectability and makes a favorable, if not fashionable, first impression.
But even if we have learned not to judge a book by its cover, we certainly still judge it by its content. Hence the case for excellent website content.
Powell states that he has “long advocated using high-quality, engaging content to build trust and attract and retain more clients.
“Your content reflects—or should reflect—you and your values and it has to take center stage in your firm’s marketing strategy,” and I second the sentiment.
Well-researched, thoughtful written content that seeks to inform rather than obfuscate shows not only that you are an expert in your field, but that you recognize the importance of establishing yourself as a trustworthy entity.
In these skeptical times, a sense of trust is a huge value incentive, and the more you can do to convey it, the better off you’ll be.