Should financial advisors use SmartAsset (and other lead services)?

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In this podcast/blog I discuss the question of should financial advisors use SmartAsset and other lead services.

But before we get into it, for those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics which is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

Buying financial advisors leads is usually a colossal waste of money

I’m not going to say anything about SmartAsset or any other financial advisor lead services in particular in this piece. These are general comments that apply broadly to the field.

However, if you have questions on specific companies and the lead generation services they provide you can contact me directly and I’d be happy to share my thoughts.

Seems like everywhere I turn, financial advisors are throwing up their arms in frustration over buying leads. Since it seems like I hear from a lot of people who aren’t that happy with financial advisor lead services, here’s my take on why lead services for financial advisors probably aren’t the best way to grow your business.

Four reasons why it’s a “hecks to the no”!

Should you financial advisors use SmartAsset and other lead services?

I say “heck nah.”

Here are four reasons why.

Again, these are not comments on any one particular company but rather general observations that apply globally to the field.

#1 The word “leads” in lead generation services is a misnomer

Getting someone’s name and email address isn’t enough to go on. A lot of times, I don’t see the financial advisor lead generation service company vetting out the leads prior to selling them to you.

It’s also not made clear to the person very often that their information is going to be submitted to a financial advisor who will consider them a viable source of business. I think if that were made clear there would be a lot fewer people willing to put their names into the pool, so to speak.

Commonly the investor is asked to provide their name and email in exchange for a download but it’s not abundantly clear that by doing so they are asking to be solicited to. I hypothesize that they really don’t know what they’re getting into, and they get very surprised when the advisor reaches out to them directly.

#2 It’s an expensive way to gamble

I’ve seen these leads cost $300 or more. Again, I’m not quoting prices for any particular company. But I have seen it go this way.

But the cost isn’t the issue as much as the principle behind what you’re getting. These “leads” are high risk. In a way, it’s like gambling.

That’s a huge investment to potentially throw away on something that just doesn’t work. In the very rare instances when I do hear from an advisor who has had success with these services, they’re buying $5-10k of leads and getting one that works out.

It would be unreasonable to expect every marketing dollar to bear fruit. But come on, gimme a break. You haven’t even closed the thing yet, and you have to invest your company’s resources to then covet the lead after the initial intro.

$10k cost of a lead? And that’s all you’re getting is a name and phone number?


That math works?

You tell me if you think it makes sense.

#3 It’s a mad dash for the cash

When a prospect does actually say they want to talk to an advisor, the company gives the lead not just to you but a few other advisors. You are put into direct competition and many times it winds up that the prospect only talks to the first advisor who contacts them.

It’s like some contest of lets-see-who-can-email-the fastest.

Come on. This is so low quality.

Are we 15 years old?

This is the typical kind of high pressure, high velocity selling situation that is typical of the industry. It reminds me of cold calling in the wirehouse and insurance training programs. These methods are as old as the Nixon Administration, okay?

I don’t know if this whizzing down the freeway at 90 miles per hour approach is conducive to having a deep understanding of the prospect, taking our time, being intentional, or developing high quality interactions.

Competitions, races, rushing – I don’t like this. It’s the wrong mindset to be in. Where did principles, understanding, deep relection, and values go? I guess we’re throwing those out the window, it’s a battle for survival here, folks!

#4 Prospect has no notion of your values

Advisors whine and complain about how hard it is to close qualified prospects over social media. Yet they then go ahead and buy leads and put themselves in a situation where the prospect has no clue who you are! I mean, at least with social media the prospect can see who you are connected to, see your posts and garner some sense of your values and what you stand for.

But this way, the prospect is completely in the dark. You’re setting yourself to be so easily judged. One false move, and you’re gone.

There’s not even a nurture component like on LinkedIn where the person can say, well, I’ll connect even though I don’t want an advisor right now and maybe I’ll check out their profile page or watch their updates here and there.


Blank wall. You’re just a voice on a voicemail that they check while they’re waiting in line at the supermarket.

You’re not selling washing machines here, come on. Long term marketing that consists of high quality interactions to a very select group of people is the best way to develop these types of relationships.

Churn and burn, high volume interactions mess up the interpersonal dynamics.


#5 They may not even call you back

I’m not saying about any one particular company who sells leads, but here is what I commonly hear from financial advisors:

“I subscribed to one of these lead generation services and bought a bunch of leads. Every time one comes in, I call – but they never call me back and I’m out $300 a lead.”

Neeeeeeew kidding.

(eyes rolling)

That’s because they don’t know if you’re Bernie Madoff or not.

Take this action TODAY

When you get a lead who knows zilch about you, either because you bought the lead or it’s a cold referral, do this:

  • Get your phone
  • Put on a nice shirt
  • Stand in front of a nice, relaxing picture or plant.
  • Smile.
  • Invoke a burst of positive energy.
  • Press record and say this into the camera:

Hello, Bill and Betty Boo. I’m Liz Martin. You were referred to me through [insert name].

I know this is weird because you don’t know anything about me, and you may even suspect that I’m the next Bernie Madoff or something. [laugh] Of course I’m not, but you probably wouldn’t even believe me if I told you that.

I can’t blame you. And that’s exactly why I’d like to chat for a few minutes – just to say hello so that I can learn about you, and you can see that I’m not just some financial advisor business card. Let me know when you can talk, my email is at the bottom of this email.”

Don’t blame them when a cold lead ignores you. It’s an instinct – they’re protecting themselves.

No negativity – just hit them with all the positive energy you can.

Every prospect’s biggest fear, at first, is you’re not who you say you are. It’s your job make them feel your humanity and a quick, uplifting video is a great way to accomplish that.

Should financial advisors use SmartAsset and others lead services?

Make your own decisions here.

It is my belief that advisors who want to grow their business are best served by tapping into the network and connections they already have. This, coupled with an understanding and deeply reflective approach to new relationships.

Like I said, send me an email if you want to talk about any of these lead services in particular.

Sara’s upshot

What’d ya think? Was this helpful?

If yes…

Learn what to say to prospects on social media messenger apps without sounding like a washing machine salesperson. This e-book contains 47 financial advisor LinkedIn messages, sequences, and scripts, and they are all two sentences or less.

This is a book about financial advisor LinkedIn messages which contains scripts you can use to get new prospects.

You could also consider my financial advisor social media membership which teaches financial advisors how to get new clients and leads from LinkedIn.

The Sara Grillo membership is a social media program for financial advisors - but only the cool ones.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll at least join my weekly newsletter about financial advisor lead generation.

See you in the next one!

-Sara G

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