Years ago, the branding tool of choice for financial advisors was the brochure. This static piece of glossy collateral usually required a fairly substantial investment, but its branding value has been on a serious downward trend for well over a decade. Today’s affluent don’t like brochures. As brochures became less and less effective, many financial advisors, with the help of templates provided by their firm, created a personal website. But these are also static—changes are difficult to make—and many of them look the same.
Now, LinkedIn has not only entered the financial advisor branding game, it has all but made brochures obsolete and has become a dynamic and interactive complement to the traditional website. However, it takes attention to detail in order to fully capitalize on LinkedIn’s branding power.
Take Martin, a 29-year-old rookie advisor who’s been in the industry for 18 months. Like many young advisors, Martin knew that forging a career as a financial advisor hinged upon his ability to acquire assets. Although he was young, this was his second career. He was an attorney and had earned his CFP designation. He understood the power of LinkedIn, but his firm wasn’t nearly as up to speed.
Martin spent months debating with his firm’s compliance department over the keywords he wanted to use in his profile—keywords that directly impact a Google search. Specifically, he wanted to use “attorney” and “CFP” in his profile multiple times. His firm was opposed, but eventually Martin prevailed. In his words, “After all, I am an attorney and have earned my CFP designation.”
Meanwhile, shortly after his firm approved multiple usage of those keywords, an affluent investor did a Google search for “attorney and CFP.” Guess whose LinkedIn profile came up first? Martin’s—ahead of many more-seasoned financial advisors in his metropolitan area.
The prospect then made contact, and Martin immediately suggested they meet. He took it offline. To paraphrase Martin’s account of transitioning this affluent prospect into a client, “He put me through the wringer. I had no idea he had as much money as he did. We must have met at least eight times over the course of a couple of months.” Upon finally becoming a client, the prospect said, “Every financial advisor who knew me wanted my business. But I wanted someone who was knowledgeable and credentialed to be able to understand the complexities of my situation, not just give me cookie-cutter solutions—and most of all, someone I could trust.”
LinkedIn didn’t close the deal for Martin; it simply branded him appropriately as someone who might fit the profile of what this affluent investor was looking for. And he was looking for something very specific. Martin had to do the rest: build trust, develop a relationship, and sell himself and his professional abilities.
For those of you who aren’t attorneys or whose firms won’t allow you to use outside credentials as keywords in your profile, that’s OK. Not every affluent prospect will have the specific needs of Martin’s new client. But you can still do quite a lot if you take the time to brand yourself properly. The more you use LinkedIn, the better you’ll understand it, and the more positive an impact it will have on your brand.