There were three times in life when my career almost brought me to a nervous breakdown. The first was my last semester at NYU Stern when my professor threatened to fail my thesis if I didn’t change the topic at the last minute. The second was after Lehman crashed and I realized I was competing with literally thousands of qualified candidates to get back the position I had lost. The third was when I had my second child in two years and struggled to meet the grueling demands of the financial advisor quota I faced, and this led to me to skip maternity leave. Needless to say, at all three points I was ready to bite the head off a rattlesnake.
It’s no coincidence that both of these remarkable experiences were caused by the same heavy pressures that so many financial professionals face. Over the last 20 years I worked in a variety of industries but I can honestly say that finance is one of the most stressful occupations one could have. Why is that?
- Unlike many other industries, most people in finance confront the reality on a daily basis that a market downturn they have no control over could cast them out onto the street.
- When I was a FINRA-registered rep, I lived in constant fear of a lawsuit due to a compliance breach. It’s always lurking even for the most cautious.
- Heavy regulation has precluded any real degree of product differentiation unless you are dealing in hedge funds, CTAs, or commodities. For most financial products there are very few core differences from one to the next, making it hard for the brokers and advisors who sell them to present a true competitive advantage.
- Most financial advisors market their practices through word of mouth. In a bad market, all the good you’ve done is forgotten and nobody has anything nice to say about you. You’re literally as good as your last trade. Regulation also precludes advisors from publicizing any client testimonials. So this all makes it very hard to get street cred, especially if you’re starting out.
And on and on…
The good news it that with a little bit of creativity, which to be blunt is the last thing on any financial advisor’s mind given all the stress they’re under, you can refocus the lens through which the world sees you. It all starts with strong branding. I outline my formula for accomplish a good, solid business image in this piece about business branding. Themed messaging that is unique and goes deeper can intrigue the reader and cultivate a following, but it doesn’t come easily.
Financial advisors should also pay attention to where their online content is placed. Distribution through sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and many more is how you reach the targeted audience and ultimately earn back your marketing spend, which to be blunt is the treasure at the end of the rainbow for us all. Agree?
Many financial advisors are wary of social media such as blogging and online video because of the heavy compliance regulations that their firms uphold. This will never change and is something out of your control. You have to work with it, not allow it to make you avoid the digital world altogether. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying go 100% Facebook all the time. The best strategy is a hybrid approach that combines in person, digital, and phone prospecting. Why is this? Some prospects don’t like cold calls. Others don’t use LinkedIn. Others are people you’ll never meet at any networking events because their schedule doesn’t allow for it. Diversification, my financial advisor friends, is the only way to ensure that if one method becomes compromised it doesn’t mean an empty pipeline.
Like anything else, building your brand takes time and commitment. My financial advisor clients love working with me because I’ve actually been a financial advisor in the past and also because I am willing to commit my time to do the things that they don’t have the bandwidth to do. If you’d like to add a market-beating asset to your marketing portfolio, please visit Sara’s FinMarketing Center or get in touch for more information.