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How NextGen Advisors Can Build Their Personal Brand, Client Base

Your story is what sets you apart from everyone else. Embrace it.

Whether you are starting your own firm, or joining an existing firm, it is important to have your own personal brand.

What Is a Brand?

Your firm’s brand is a written and visual representation of who you are as a company and a professional. It identifies you and helps you build an emotional connection with clients and prospects. Strong brands create customer loyalty, raving fans, diehards. Surveys show strong personal connection counts more than price or beating the market.

Why Is a Brand Important?

Branding is about you, but it is also about your clients. Having a brand creates credibility, differentiates you from the competition and helps you define who should be your ideal client. Your brand can play mind games—specifically it can create cognitive familiarity. How? Your brand can precede you and create a comfort level with you, long before a client interacts with you.

Your brand brings focus to your marketing efforts. It provides a story and experience you create constantly, that a client can expect throughout every interaction with you—in person, on video and through your digital and social presence. Highlighting your strengths and showing your unique value proposition creates the authenticity and consistency of a brand that is personal to you and catches the attention of prospects.

Creating Your Brand

Now that you understand why your brand is important, you need to know how to create one. Each of us has a story to tell, even if you are just starting out. Your personal story may be what separates you from the competition—how do you use that story to create an impactful brand?

Ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Who Are You?

This is where you need to dive deep into yourself and reflect on your personal strengths and weaknesses. Here are questions you can ask yourself, and others, to help you define yourself.

  • What drives me?
  • What work comes easy to me?
  • What words do people use to describe me?
  • Are there characteristics that I receive compliments on?
  • How do I want clients to describe me? (Hint: Ask them how they describe you now—it can be eye-opening.)
  • Where do I envision my business in 10 years?
  • What work seems to drain my energy?
  • What can I spend hours on that does not even feel like work?
  • What projects do I prefer to delegate?

You may have also completed personality assessments for school or job interviews, or because they are fun to do. Skip the Buzzfeed versions and use actual assessments that can help you see patterns to use as you develop your brand.

  1. Who Do You Serve?

Who are you serving now? Who are the clients you want to serve? Think about who you really want to work with and what it is you prefer about those clients:

  • Age: Gen Y, baby boomers, Gen X (they do exist!)
  • Occupation: pilots, doctors, engineers
  • Niche: divorced men, families of children with special needs

When you are building a business, it is tempting to work with any client who wants your services. If there is a disconnect between who you currently serve and your ideal client, your branding can help you attract future clients who more clearly fit your target market. Make sure who you work with is clear in your marketing materials.

  1. What Do You Do?

This should be the easy part, right? The challenge is showing your unique value proposition. This is where you differentiate you and your firm from what everyone else is doing. Now that you defined exactly who you serve, figure out what their pain points are and where they are not being served. Your solution for that becomes what you do. You need to ensure your solution is unique—that it is not something your competitors can also say. If they can make the same claim, your message is too broad and needs to be refined. You want your unique value proposition to resonate in seconds with your target, so they reach out to you.

  1. How Do You Do It?

It is important to realize that prospects and clients are buying into you and your process. Do not just talk about the six-step process you (and everyone else!) follows. Do you prefer delegators who turn everything over to you, or do you want clients who engage with you as you co-create their financial plan? Will you allow clients to meet over video or do you need to see them in person at least annually? How will you deal with partners or families with different risk tolerances? What tools will you use to make sure multiple client voices are heard? Describe your unique process to help display your value.

  1. Why Do You Do It the Way You Do?

Part of your brand includes your why. Educating your clients on why what you do is important to you. Why is being a fiduciary important to you? Why do you work with LGBTQ clients? Why do you work on retainer? What is your why?

  1. Why Are You the Best Choice?

At this point, you have gathered information about yourself, your clients, your firm and your processes. Now you can craft your story. Stories create an emotional buy-in that create pathways in your prospect’s brain that resonate with them. Make sure your firm’s marketing creates a story and is not just a statement of facts. Talk about your family history, or an underserved population or that massive student loan that made you want to become a financial planner and help people.

Create your story. And remember, your brand may change as you and your firm grow. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” And your brand.


Kate Healy is a financial services industry executive and NextGen advocate, focused on building brands. 

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