Investopedia, the personal finance and investing education website with 20 million unique monthly users, is dipping its toe into the world of financial advice.
The online financial encyclopedia publicly announced Advisor Insights on Monday, a new feature designed to connect investors with leading financial advisors.
It gives people of all levels of affluence and financial sophistication the opportunity to ask a question and receive personalized advice from a qualified expert. For advisors, Investopedia hopes Advisor Insights will provide a new medium to market their expertise and demonstrate their value to an audience of 20 million readers. The product will be free for both users and advisors.
Investopedia CEO David Siegel said the idea came to him when he found out how many financial professionals were actively using Investopedia to help explain things to clients. He realized the opportunity to do something like the question-and-answer website Quora, but with answers only coming from vetted professionals instead of anonymous Internet users.
“If a company doesn’t solve a real user problem, it might as well not exist,” Siegel said, adding that one of the big problems is that majority of people who need an advisor the most are people who can’t afford one. “Our job is to educate our clients and [advisors] are really good at simplifying the complex.”
A team of moderators will read through user-submitted questions, checking to see if it has already been asked and answered on the website (then directing the user where to find it) and if a question is appropriate for advisors under compliance guidelines. Investopedia will also scan the web for trending topics to find questions that perhaps readers don’t even know to ask yet.
When advisors log on, they see a selection of available questions that are relevant to their areas of expertise – personal finance, retirement, investing, taxes, small business, insurance and life stage planning. Advisors can also filter questions to see the most recent, the most or least answered, or which ones received the most or least helpful answers.
Siegel said that because of Investopedia’s user base, answers on Advisor Insights are likely to attract more views than an advisor’s social media account or blog. He added that after a few weeks of answering questions, advisors’ Investopedia profiles ranked higher in Google searches than their own website or LinkedIn profiles.
Tina Powell, the founder and CEO of SheCapital, was an early member of Advisor Insights and is listed as a top contributor. Powell said she worked on the beta version and provided feedback to Investopedia to help make Advisor Insights as advisor-friendly as possible.
She said she’s excited about the ability of Advisor Insights to provide users with more context to the information they are already searching for on Investopedia, and called it a “gold mine” for advisors looking to open a dialogue with investors.
“Advisors want to be writing about these topics and the things we’re interested in, [but] not all advisors have a blog on their website. Not all advisors are mobile friendly,” Powell said. “You don’t have to call your web person, you can just answer it and it's right up there. The user interface and experience is already there.”
Some doubt that advisors are willing to take time out of their day to write client content. Powell acknowledged that providing answers is hard work and time consuming – especially because they have to be approved by compliance – but said it's well worth the exposure Investopedia grants. She added it also gives advisors unique access as to what’s on investors’ minds.
“They can see trends; they can see patterns and develop content, events, marketing services and initiatives at their firm to address these issues,” Powell said.
Investopedia is working with FiComm, a communications firm that specializes in financial advisors, and GuideVine, an advisor-client matching service, to find appropriate advisors. Advisor Insights is also focused on the RIA side of the industry, as they have a greater flexibility to contribute online through compliance. FiComm co-founder Megan Carpenter said Advisor Insights is something every smart and marketing-savvy advisory should apply to be a part of.
"Firms and advisors know they need to communicate and want to communicate" Carpenter said. "It's like having a blog powered by Investopedia."
While Advisor Insights is designed to amplify and advisor’s brand, Siegel said it’s not a place for direct advertising. All answers are reviewed for marketing messages. And not just every advisor can sign up. Siegel said Advisor Insights prefers advisors with a CFP designation, 10 years of experience, and specific areas of expertise.
Advisor Insights has been live in stealth mode on Investopedia for awhile, posting about 150 questions per week with answers coming from 75 financial advisors. Siegel hopes that Advisor Insights will grow to database of thousands of advisors answering hundreds of thousands of questions.
“My general belief – and the data also proves this – is that people don’t want just a one-on-one, old school financial advisor relationship that has no ability for a digital connection,” Siegel said. “Most people don’t want a purely robo advisor, purely digital relationship either.
"If this can be a part of that hybrid approach for an FA, then I think it can be an exciting opportunity.”