Posted on

Social media advertising for financial advisors – don’t get played!

In this blog financial advisors will learn how to kickass using social media advertising

I see a lot of financial advisers throwing money down the drain on social media advertising that does not work. If you are a financial advisor advertising on social media, don’t get played. I’m going to right some wrongs in this podcast. Coming right up!

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

Pleased to meet you!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an insightful and slightly crazy marketing consultant for financial advisors.

I am a CFA® charterholder, financial author and a former financial advisor. I do weekly podcasts on financial advisor lead generation so please subscribe here so you won’t miss any of my blog/podcasts on financial advisor marketing and lead generation.

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

You can finish reading the blog below or you can scroll to the end and listen to the podcast which is highly entertaining.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What is social media advertising for financial advisors?

I want you to go to LinkedIn and look at your news feed.

I’ll give you a minute.

Are you there yet?

You’re probably seeing that the first posting is one from someone in your network. It’s going to be a native, non-sponsored posting. You see some posting about somebody saying they are so glad they got a new job or something, right?

The second posting, however, is always a sponsored advertisement. You should see the word “promoted” in the top left hand corner of the posting. What’s happened is that some advertiser has paid LinkedIn to serve up this ad to you, based on your demographic information, browsing history, and activity history on the platform. For example, I am always clicking on military news, videos, and media because of my love of the US military. And by the way, if any of you are reading this who are either in active service or are vets, thanks so much for your service. Love you for protecting our freedom!

Well, whataya know, when I watch YouTube, the commercial that come up are related to services for military vets. Because of my tendency to watch military videos, YouTube thinks I am either a military person or close to someone who is. I’m profiled this way based upon what I spend my time doing on social media.

LinkedIn is roping you in by showing you a “cool” posting from someone you already know (supposedly, because they are in your network. And then once they’ve got you, they are going to serve up an advertisement so that hopefully you click. Once you click, LinkedIn can then say to the advertiser, “Hey, you owe us $15!”  LinkedIn makes a lot of yen off people this way.

When financial advisors should advertise on social media

While advertising is a huge money makers for the social media platforms that do it, it generally does not work out as well for the advertisers. As far as social media advertising goes for financial advisors, I see many of you throwing money away by doing it wrong and others of you not doing it at all. In both scenarios the problem is the same and it is that you are missing the opportunity to reach the people who need you – and this comes at a very high price.

So you have to do it right – I’ll get to that part later – but first let’s start with the basic question of when it makes sense for a financial advisor to advertise on social media.

Modest network

If you have a small network of followers, you might not be able to get visibility with new prospects. Let’s say you have 100 people following you. There may be a few prospects, 2 or 3 at most, but it’s not likely that they’ll be in the market for your services when you want them to be. You need a nice full pipeline and that comes from meaningful interactions on a larger scale than probably what a 100 person network can bring. Social media advertising can allow you to be visible to more people in this situation. You’ve got to expand your visibility, and you’ve got to do that by paying for it.

You’d rather die than write a blog

I’ve had great episodes with social media success stories Josh Scandlen and Ben Brandt who built networks of tens of thousands using keywords and SEO techniques. These are content producers (podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs).

Not every financial advisors is a great content producer with tons to say and the willingness/ability to put in the time to consistently post. If you aren’t able to leverage the power of Google’s algorithms, you may be the kind of financial advisor that social media advertising may be right for.

Social media advertising budget is big buckos!

How much should a financial advisor set aside for social media advertising? I’ll give you a baseline social media advertising budget but first let me explain what the contents are.

You’ll need to have someone that knows what they are doing to target the ad, create it, and test it. If you don’t know what you are doing, you’ll need to hire a professional marketing consultant. This usually goes for $500 or more per month. Agencies can cost in the thousands per month.

There are two ways that LinkedIn can charge you – by impression or by click.

  • Impressions means that someone looked at your ad for a certain amount of time. I believe that at the time of this blog, it is three seconds. If someone looks at your ad for three seconds, that counts as an impression and LinkedIn charges you.
  • You can also pay by click. If someone clicks on your ad to read it, you pay LinkedIn.

Messaging ads are generally far less costly than news feed ads. This is no guarantee and pricing always varies depending upon the advertiser, but I have seen clients of mine send paid LinkedIn messaging ads for $0.70 an impression. News feed ads are far more costly. Generally here you should not expect to pay less than $4 per ad, and for many clients of mine I’ve seen it as high as $10 to $15 per click.

Beaucoup bucks, no? Now you see why they want everyone to advertise!

I’d expect to put aside $500 to $750 per month in advertising budget if you want to get significant traction. You’re probably not going to get anywhere spending $150 a month.

So if you’re going to advertise, you really need to do it right – and that’s what I’m about to get to.

By the way, are you enjoying this blog so far? I’d love for you to join my membership if so. It’s really fun to work with me, it won’t cost you a fortunate, and you’ll be inspired and learn alot.

Here’s more info about it below. 😉

Financial advisors social media advertising success depends heavily on targeting

Social media platforms serve up your ad to people based upon what they know about them. Let me make the key point here that this is not always what they really are – it’s who the platform believes them to be.

As an example, let’s say a financial advisor is trying to reach parents of children who are either about to go to college or are currently in college. Maybe you run an ad intended to reach people ages 40 to 60 who visited the New York 529 plan website. This may put your ad in front of many qualified prospects – but it will also put you in front of:

  • Employees of the New York 529 plan company
  • Vendors to the New York 529 plan company – for example the IT team that created the site and maintains it
  • Other financial advisors researching the New York 529 plan

These cohorts may turn out to be qualified, but they’re not really your ideal match, are they? Is $15 spent on one of these people clicking a great use of your money? Not really.

Targeting is essential for financial advisors doing social media advertising. Here are a few examples of how to do it.

You could specify Audience Attributes.

For example, you could select company name if you are trying to reach employees who work at Cisco systems. You could also specify a certain location, perhaps within 25 miles of your office, using the location filter.

You could also target the audience by job title, let’s say “senior manager” or “senior systems engineer.”

You could create Audiences.

You could upload a list of company names or known contacts. For these known contacts, you’d have to provide LinkedIn with their email, first and last name, etc. LinkedIn will find them on the platform and serve up your ad to this audience.

You can also create a lookalike audience. Let’s say you want to reach college professors. You can upload a list of college professors you know, and tell LinkedIn to create an audience with similar characteristics.  

Financial advisors should know that targeting is the most important factor when it comes to social media advertising. You can have a so-so ad and if it’s targeted right it will probably work out okay. You can have the best ad in the world and if the target is poor you are going to get played.

How financial advisors can maximize success with social media advertising

Like I said, the most important thing is the targeting. And here are some other things to keep in mind if you are a financial advisor looking to get the most out of your social media advertising.

A/B testing

You create two advertising campaigns that are the same except for one variable. There is one group you call Group A (control group). There is another group you call Group B (variable group).

Let’s revisit the college professor example. You run the ad with targeting by job title. Group A has the title of “lecturer” while Group B has the title “professor”.  How do you know which one does better? You look at the performance graphs for each campaign. LinkedIn creates these. Example of some LinkedIn performance graphs for past ads I have run are below.  You can filter the graphs to hone in on different data.

LinkedIn Demographic Report Sample

On the demographic report you can see how many ads were sent to various job titles, the open rate, the absolute number of opens, etc.

LinkedIn Performance Graph: Sample

The performance graph will show you the sheer number of hits. Look here for nuances in hit flow.

Maximizing performance of social media ads is really important for financial advisors. The reason is that just like a borrower gets better interest rates when he or she has a better credit score, you are charged lower advertising costs for being a successful advertiser.

Remember that LinkedIn simply wants people to click on your ads. Showing the platform you are going to allow that to happen will encourage them to want to help you by lowering your cost of advertising (cost per click or cost per impression). I suggest testing with a small amount of dough before you spend the full monte.

Be concise

As text is inherently limited in social media advertising, you’ll have to communicate in brief. For messenger ads, I recommend using no more than two or three sentences. It’s enough to see the “sponsored” tag flash in your inbox – make it worthwhile for them

Here’s another tip. Space out the text – no block text – and get to the point: what are you offering and why should it appeal to them?

Have a kickass CTA

The call to action shouldn’t be setting up a meeting – it’s too offputting in this business. They don’t even know you. Get the prospect into the funnel and allow the trust to build over time.

Get a great lead magnet that nurtures their understanding and raises curiosity about what you do. Or invite them to a webinar you are having.

Use exclusions

These social media platforms are never 100% precise and I have noticed, unfortunately, that sometimes ads get served up to people that they shouldn’t. Use exclusions to make sure that certain groups are not getting your ads.

For example, you financial advisors should be excluding other financial professionals. You don’t need other financial advisors clicking on your ads so they can learn what you are doing. Even if they worked at a financial firm in the past there are probably less likely to want to learn about what you do. You also want to exclude vendors who just want to learn about you so they can sell something to you.

Sara’s upshot

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I have inspired you financial advisors to kick ass with your social media advertising.

Join my membership and you’ll receive monthly videos and workshops in which I guide you through the nuances it takes to put all these tips into effect and get the results you want.

I also suggest that you at least start following my podcast here as financial advisor lead generation is the main focus.

Thanks for visiting me!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Music is Much Higher by Causmic

Posted on

Understanding you better

The biggest mistake of my career – thinking early on that the key to success in business had to do more with academic knowledge than interpersonal skill.

It’s a trap many intellectually-focused people fall into. And it’s not like the educational institutions themselves don’t feed into this idea.

If I could go back I would have dedicated way more focus to learning to read people rather than learning to read books. It’s something I think I should always strive to get better at. It is something I am teaching my children.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid way more attention to what other people think about, what they think about me, how they behave, how they were going to respond to actions I took, and how my actions impact them.

Man and woman. Parent and child. Business and client. Misunderstandings happen all day long, all the time. It seems like we’re more likely to misunderstand each other than to understand each other.

My effort is to make the people listening to my podcast more successful. To all of you regularly listening or just tuning in for the first time, I appreciate you. I can try to guess about what I need to do to help you succeed, but chances are I would not be able to as well as if I hear it from you directly.

So I am asking you to tell me to the best of your ability what you feel you want to learn more about through my podcast shows to become more successful in your role as a financial advisor.

Please send me an email, a LinkedIn direct message, or complete this survey to help me to understand you better.

Or you could just drop me a link and say hello. That would be cool, too.

Thanks for listening.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Posted on

Welcome to my website!

Hi! I’m Sara. Thanks for coming to visit! Here’s a quick guide to the content on this site.

Pod-Blog (Podcast/Blog)

On my podcast/blog I discuss overall financial advisor lead generation strategies. The pieces are written out in blog form, and also available as a podcast. So you can either read or listen, depending on what you are into.  Highly entertaining and humorous although there are few specific details – those I reserve for my exclusive content (see below).

Click here to subscribe to my podcast.

Membership (Exclusive Content)

If you are the DIY type, then the Sara Grillo Membership is for you.

For a monthly fee, I provide exclusive content about financial advisor lead generation. You also get monthly workshops and access to our private membership group on LinkedIn where you can interact with other financial advisors in the membership.

I discuss these themes on my pod-blog, but to be honest if you tried to DIY based upon that it there’s not a high likelihood that you’d succeed. There are just too many details that I leave out.

It’s kind of like the famous chefs.

If Julia Child gave you her cheesecake recipe, it wouldn’t be enough – there’s no way your cheesecake would come out as good unless she gave you step by step direction and demonstrated visually.

To be real you would probably waste a lot of time trying to DIY on this.

You get three videos a month teaching you the mechanics of how to get online leads. You also get a private members webinar each month where I provide group coaching. These videos are short and to the point in my signature “no BS” style.

Click here to join my membership.


If you have any questions which one is for you, please contact me and I can point you in the right direction.

Posted on

Viral financial advisor selfie photos

Today’s show is about how financial advisors can make viral selfie photos for their social media. I’ve recently started doing this and the results on my visibility in my social feeds and in my general marketing have been awesome. I can’t wait to teach all of you about it so read on please!

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

Pleased to meet you!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an insightful and slightly crazy marketing consultant for financial advisors.

I am a CFA® charterholder, financial author and a former financial advisor. I do weekly podcasts on financial advisor lead generation so please subscribe here so you won’t miss any of my blog/podcasts on financial advisor marketing and lead generation.

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

You can finish reading the blog below or you can scroll to the end and listen to the podcast which is highly entertaining.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What to expect in this pod-blog

First I’m going to talk about what makes a good selfie and how to take one, and then I’m going to go over 5 examples of great selfie photos that got a lot of visibility on social media, and several of them lead to me getting new business opportunities (leads) as a result.

Let’s get started!

Why financial advisor selfie photos are great

First of all, what is a selfie photo? Selfie photos have come about with the evolution of social media. It generally refers to a photo that is taken by the person him or herself using a smartphone. Selfie photos tend to be informal.

Now, I realize that your results may be very compromised if you are not used to taking selfies. Practice and get used to it. If you really aren’t comfortable, you can have someone else take it. But the impromptu nature of the selfie photo is part of its charm and involving other people makes it a bit less effortless.


Financial advisors tend to shy away from making selfie photos. Look, it’s okay if you have gray hair, wrinkles, or have gained weight. Look – we all have our flaws. Don’t be self conscious. I know it’s uncomfortable but understand that the audience doesn’t want perfection – they want connection.

That is a key point, so let me go over that again.

Human beings like to look at other human beings. Curiosity is the first step towards attraction in any sense, platonic or romantic. What do you find easier to connect with, a picture of a human face or a graph of this quarter’s S&P 500?


Humans like human energy, folks!


Financial advisor selfie photos are important because of the type of business you are in. Your brand isn’t your website or logo – it’s you! It’s you, your personality, how you look, your face, how you smile, your energy, the look in your eyes. It isn’t the chart or graph that people are going to need to trust, it is the person making it. That is why you have to show up. You have to be able to represent your brand physically. Physical drawbacks can be managed, and they have to be overcome.

I realize that financial advisors tend to be more data-focused in their thinking. On social media, the most important thing is the title of any piece you create, and the thumbnail photo associated with it. People don’t respond logically. They don’t decide to click on postings as a result of their reasoning. The one who has the most visual appeal is the one who is going to get the attention on social media, period.

I didn’t make the rules, folks. But if I want to win, I know I have to play by them.

The social media algorithms

Marketing people often talk about the LinkedIn, Facebook, and other algorithms. Basically the algorithm is the math that decides what postings get served up more frequently, and to what audience they are served. Nobody outside of the social media platform itself has access to this knowledge.

Generally what all social media platforms want, and what all algorithms reward, is watch time. Time people spend on the page reading, watching, or listening to whatever is on the page. It is that simple. This is why better photos that engage people and get them to stay and read what the posting is about are so critical.

There’s very little point to posting on social media if you can’t get people to see it. Your goal should always be to maximize the number of views. Targeting a specific audience is good to consider, but a rising tide lifts all ships. Once the platform sees you getting more attention with a general audience, you will have more authority in their eyes and it will be easier to get more attention from the people you wish to reach. There are a variety of different ways to do this and I teach about that in my membership.

Have you heard about it?

Info is below.

To sum it up…

Even though you may be moving into a realm you are not comfortable with, financial advisors should consider selfie photos for all the reasons stated above.

How financial advisors can make a kickass selfie

Before I go into the key points that make a selfie visually appealing, I want you to do something. Take out your phone and snap 20 photos. Click, click, clicky click.

I’ll give you a minute.



Now, what did you notice about the results? One thing is that you probably aren’t satisfied with most of these pictures. Totally understandable. Remember when I defined the selfie photos I said these were informal and impromptu kinds of things? So of course because these are not staged photos you are going to see a lot of them being off. If you snap 20 photos you are probably going to get 1 or 2 that you like. You may have to repeat and create another batch.

Generally in any batch of selfie photos, the latter photos are going to come out better. This is because the person is generally more comfortable within the pose the more photos you take.

Here are some guidelines for taking a great financial advisor selfie photo:

  • Play music while you shoot. Your favorite song will naturally relax you.
  • Look at yourself through the camera and then touch up your appearance. Sometimes the camera lens can show things that the bathroom mirror doesn’t. Bring your cosmetics and primping tools (e.g. hairbrush) with you. I used to get ready in the bathroom and then be constantly frustrated by having to run back and forth between my computer and the bathroom to touch up my makeup.
  • Focus on your eyes and mouth. Make them big. Make expressions with them. Practice this before you shoot.
  • Make sure you are centered and try to stand in front of a neutral background if possible. It’s best if the emphasis is on you and not on what is behind you.
  • If you are making a thumbnail image for a blog or podcast, you may want to point to the space next to you. This way you can superimpose some text that conveys the main point of the piece. I explain how to do this in my membership.
  • Use props. I have noticed when I use props my pics do better. In the examples below you will see what I mean.

Viral selfie examples

Financial advisor lead magnet

I did this posting about my podcast on financial advisor lead magnets. You can see I am holding up a light bulb because the idea is that the lead magnet ideas I discuss on the show are illuminating. I also made a point to put the keywords associated with the podcast in a call out box that I superimposed next to my head.

Simple attire, makeup looks okay, hair was styled nicely.

Business baby

This was one of my most successful postings over a two weeks period. I did this a little bit differently. Normally I create the posting and then take the picture to match it. However in this case, I took the picture first and then created the post around it.

What made the business baby posting so successful was the creativity that went into it, and I think the reverse engineering had a lot to do with it. This was a really cute photo. I’m holding a stuffed animal with my hair in pigtails. However I am making a point about how ridiculous it is to act like a toddler in the business world.

Try to reverse engineer a post and see how it goes!

Financial advisor sales funnel

I did a full body shot wearing a leopard dress which you don’t usually see much of on LinkedIn. This picture had a really dynamic quote imposed onto it about the financial advisor sales funnel and that made the post even that much more interesting.

Financial advisor pay

I credit the topic here with much of the post’s success. Anytime you talk about compensation, people are going to be curious.

However, this picture was also visually engaging. The color red caught people’s eyes and I use money as a prop. I also styled my hair in a puff which is not something I usually do. Change attracts attention.

Sara’s upshot

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I have inspired you financial advisors to make selfie photos for your social media.

Join my membership and you’ll receive monthly videos and workshops in which I guide you through the nuances it takes to put all these tips into effect and get the results you want.

I also suggest that you at least start following my podcast here as financial advisor lead generation is the main focus.

Thanks for visiting me!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Posted on

Stop breadcrumbing away your profitability as a financial advisor!

In this podcast with Dan Cuprill I discuss the ways that financial advisors can increase profitability.

In this podcast/blog, you are going to learn the three ways that financial advisors can increase their profitability and stop getting breadcrumbs when you’re hungry for the feast. You can read the blog in text form, or scroll to the end and listen to the podcast.

Before we get started, thanks for visiting me. My name is Sara.

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
Welcome to my blog. I am an insightful and slightly crazy marketing consultant for financial advisors based in NYC.

I’m a financial blogger, CFA® charterholder, and a former financial advisor. I do weekly blogs on the topic of financial advisor lead generation and practice management, so please subscribe to my podcast to be notified that way you won’t miss the real story!

That’s right folks you won’t get it twisted if you listen to me!

Nothing twisted, folks, you get the story straight here on this podcast.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What to expect out of this blog about financial advisor profitability

In this blog you will learn:

  1. Why the typical way that financial advisors assess their success are lacking, and what the best metrics are to evaluate the success of your business
  2. Run your business like a profit center not a sales office
  3. Working with fewer clients may be the best thing for your business. Consider how your service offering is impacting your profitability and potentially allowing you to become breadcrumbed – and what to do about it.

So without further ado – let’s get into it!

#1 Stop setting revenue goals

In this podcast, I interviewed Dan Cuprill. In addition to being a financial advisor himself, Dan runs a firm called Advisor Architect which helps financial advisors increase their profits. Dan’s first word of advice for financial advisors is to stop setting revenue goals – set profit goals instead.

Dan is really speaking to the established financial advisor. If you set a profit goal, and you look at your expenses, it amazes me how few advisors (even if they have Quickbooks), never really study their expenses. Put on your CFO hat, Cuprill says, and look at where your money is going. There are probably significant amounts of waste you can cut out just by taking the time to look at your expenses.

If you set the profit goal first, you’re likely going to find yourself not having to work nearly as hard to hit that number (assuming you already have established revenue). Now, you may still need to bring in more revenue to hit that goal. But you are going to be amazed at how much waste you are going to minimize.

Lastly, you have to track it. You have to track your revenue and profitability. You can’t keep all your revenue sitting in your business account. If you do that you will waste it. If you set a budget from the beginning of the year, and if that budget predetermines that 40% of all budget will go towards operating expense, then you only keep in your business 40% of all incoming revenue. As soon as you get paid 60%, leave. And if you do that, you will force yourself to manage your business like a profit entity.

Do these things – set profit goals and track them – and you probably are going to find that you have more staff than you need, especially if you are an established practice. It blows Cuprill’s mind when he sees businesses smaller than his (he has roughly $200MM in AUM at the time of this recording) with 6 or 7 admin people. It makes no sense.

But you financial advisors sure love your admins!

There is an ego gratification from knowing that you are employing all these people. Also, it’s the vendors. The FMO’s, the broker dealers, the turnkey asset managers. They are the ones encouraging this. They love it when financial advisors have high overhead. Why? If you have high overhead, you can’t stop marketing yourself. You have to keep going faster and faster.

Most advisors aren’t even good clients to themselves. Many financial advisors have almost $1MM in revenue coming in and they are a step away from being broke themselves. They’ve never built up their own net worth. They got caught up in the game. Most of them believe that someone is going to show up and write a huge check for their practice. Usually they don’t. Many advisors will go into debt or raid their personal savings just to sustain their businesses.

By the way, are you enjoying this blog? If so please subscribe to my podcast to be notified of future shows.

Subscribe here.

How do you know what your profitability number should be?

Some advisors just put every single expense on their American Express card and turn it over to their accountant at the end of the year. It’s okay if your accountant crunches these numbers for you, but you have got to be the analyst yourself. Every single month, run a budget vs. actual expense analysis and look at where you were off. Make decisions going forward.

Key takeaways of profit goal setting:

Set a profit goal, develop an operating budget, and manage it quarterly. Track it on an ongoing basis. Most importantly, make sure that your profitability comes out of your business and use it to invest for yourself or to pay off your debt. Either one will grow your net worth.

Cuprill loves the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz which is the source of many of the ideas he discusses in this podcast.

#2 Run it like a profit center not a sales office

Many advisors run their businesses down by running them like sales offices. This happens when success is defined by things like the number of appointments you have. Or even the number of clients you have without giving any thought to whether or not at the end of the day you are making money.

There’s a lot more to running a business than just hitting a sales goal. But that’s the mentality that we have in this profession and it’s largely because that’s the environment that the vendors create.   What’s in their best interest isn’t necessarily what’s in the advisor’s best interest. Even if you love your vendors, understand that they have goals that are completely different from yours.

We get way too much advice only from within the industry. This industry rarely challenges the status quo. Cuprill has looked at the most successful advisors – he’s studied them – and by many standards they aren’t even successful. But they believe that because they have a large staff and that they are always on the stage. But if you look at the amount of money they actually make and their net worth, we’re not setting goals in the right order.

For many advisors, doubling the AUM you gain is not the way to double your take home pay. It is just not.

#3 Should you work with fewer clients?

Cuprill has over 200 clients in 20 states and over $200MM in AUM. He has just one highly talented administrative person. He says that 90 clients is a manageable number for many advisors because many of them are unable to remove the busywork from their workflow, something he has been able to do successfully.

The way that you get more revenue from fewer clients is you establish from day one how you are going to work with a client. First of all, it still amazes Cuprill that there are people who call themselves financial advisors and they do not charge any type of fee for financial planning. That means they are salespeople.

The typical line is, “I’ll do all the analysis you want; only if you implement then will I get paid.” There are so many problems with that. Note that both broker dealer reps and RIA firms do this. The reason that you want to charge that fee, more than any other, is that is the first step in making sure that you manage 100% of their money.

When you decide that you are going to take whatever the client throws your way, again you are not being an advisor. You’re being a salesperson. Imagine going into a doctor’s office and you say, “Hey doc, I just want you to work on the left side of my body today.” This is the kind of thing that advisors allow. Or if the doctor says, “I don’t charge for the visit. I only charge you if I write a prescription.” Are you going to feel comfortable with that physician?

If you are going to maximize your revenue and profitability, you have to work with people who want to work with you fully. That means you manage all their money and you are going to charge them a fee to do planning.

There are financial advisors who just work with clients on investments and not planning. The retention factors is lower for these types of practices. It set ups you up for being more on the hamster wheel than a planning focused business does. Because you can’t predict the future, you are going to have moments of disappointing performance with your clients.

Only work with people where you manage all their money. Don’t get breadcrumbed around by clients who won’t commit the whole thing. Don’t let them “try you out.”

The most powerful word in marketing is “no.” Everybody can tell when you go into a meeting and you will take whatever you can get. It sets the expectations for the standards you have and for how they are expected to behave. You have to be strong enough to say this word if you want to run your practice a certain way.

Don’t be the person who will take any crumb that they will throw their way! You will set yourself apart from all the other advisors who don’t have the courage to stand up for the integrity of their business this way.

Conclusion on financial advisor profitability

Financial advisors who want a more profitable business should focus on being a profit center instead of a sales center. You should rethink the way that you work with clients and try to manage the entire relationship instead of just a piece of it because that will enable you to deliver higher value to the client and increase retention.

I hope you will stick around and subscribe to my podcast because there is a lot you can learn about financial advisor marketing. Subscribe here.

I have a membership that teaches financial advisors how to generate leads using social media and other methods. Please click here for more information.

Thanks for visiting me!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Music is Crystal by Vice Tracks

Posted on

5 Financial Advisor Lead Magnets that make prospects go HECK YEAH!

Here are 5 financial advisor lead magnets that are going to make prospects say HECK YEAH!

In this blog/podcast I am going to talk to you about examples of 5 financial advisor magnets that make prospects go HECK YEAH.

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

I’m an insightful and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.

Pleased to meet you!

I am a CFA® charterholder, financial author and a former financial advisor. I do weekly podcasts on financial advisor lead generation so please subscribe here so you won’t miss any of my blog/podcasts on financial advisor marketing and lead generation.

You can finish reading the blog below or you can scroll to the end and listen to the podcast which is highly entertaining.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What to expect in this blog

It seems like lead magnets aren’t really that well understood by financial advisors.

I decided to make this show because some of you financial advisors don’t even know what a lead magnet is. Or you’re using one that is not getting you anywhere. Or so you don’t see the point of giving away free info to people who aren’t your clients.

In this blog/podcast, I’m going to talk about:

  • What a lead magnet is
  • How does the lead magnet help financial advisors in their sales funnel
  • What makes a good lead magnet
  • 5 examples of good financial advisor lead magnets

Let’s get started!

The basics on lead magnets for financial advisors

What is a lead magnet? It is a document that is gated, meaning that the user has to input their information (usually email address) in order to download it. This allows the owner of the content to build their prospect email base.

Lead magnets can be very helpful to the financial advisor sales funnel.

Sales funnel, you say?

Learn more about financial advisor sales funnels in this video below.

If your lead magnet is especially thought provoking and insightful it can help do some of the selling for you by making a great first impression. It can make the prospect feel curious about the financial advisor and be compelled to learn more or even meet him or her.

What makes a good lead magnet? Here are some general guidelines.

  • Give them enough information that they feel you are an authority, but not the whole thing.
  • Make sure to cover material that other financial advisors do not. You will have to do some work here, but the great part is that the competition has made them freely and publicly available to avail yourself of. Start downloading!
  • Don’t offer the same dry old clichéd downloads that financial advisors typically do. You know, the retirement calculator? The Social Security worksheet, etc.

When I first started my business, I launched a YouTube channel at the same time. I had a few great lead magnets that solidified by subscriber base and led many of my first clients to find me. The videos I was making were about how to pass the CFA exam and there were also many tutorials about how to model stocks in Excel. In these videos, I offered a free CFA planner and a free set of sample research models.

As of the time of writing this blog, people still come to me in hot pursuit of these lead magnets. The reason was that I dug down deep. The CFA study planner featured a day by day map of what to do in the months preceding the exam. The Excel models were basics but still offered a high level of sophisticated technical information from my past days as a research analyst. They were solid, well thought out, high quality lead magnets. It took me some time to create them, but it paid off cumulatively year over year and as of today it still does.

Why financial advisors tend to (wrongfully) shy away from lead magnets

Some financial advisors object to lead magnets, saying they are not comfortable providing that much free information to someone before they become a client. Within this assumption lies the doubt that the prospect will become compelled to become your clients as a result of receiving the lead magnet.

Your lead magnet is far less likely to fail its goal of converting the random downloader into a solid lead if the person reading it says this to themselves:

HECK YEAH this is a great article. Who wrote this? That is the one financial advisor out there who is worthy of my respect.

HOLY SH*#. I learned something new today. I really appreciate the financial advisor who wrote this. I should email them and thank you.

FREAKIN’ A. I never have had someone explain this technical concept to me so clearly. What an awesome financial advisor this person must be. Imagine if he or she were the one servicing my account – I’d be so happy.

Now, the reason most people don’t say this when they read most financial advisor lead magnets is that usually the financial advisor doesn’t commit enough time creating them. So as a result they wind up being the same old BS retirement calculator or social security worksheet.

So to you who want to create lead magnets that actually work, my advice is to do the deal, financial advisors. Do the freaking deal. Get the deal done right there with the lead magnet by taking some time and making it go beyond what everyone else is doing. It’s that easy to tell what your competition is doing. You can go to their websites and down load the things.

By the way, did you listen to the podcast on this yet? It’s at the bottom of this page if you want to check it out. And while you are there, please subscribe!

5 examples of great Financial Advisor Lead Magnets

Now that we have covered the basics of what lead magnets are and how financial advisors can use them, let’s go over some specific examples. By the way, if you are digging my style then please check out my membership which offers access to my exclusive content about online marketing strategies for financial advisors.

#1 Traps to avoid when dealing with the Social Security Administration

Most financial advisor lead magnets about social security feature a calculator or a worksheet. I’m not a big fan of these types of lead magnets because you are essentially giving the DIY clients free reign to do it themselves. You are making their jobs way easier and they may not contact you.

Instead, I would outline the key challenges people who handle social security on their own commonly have. This allows you to build up some fear in the mind of the reader. Done correctly, the reader will get the impression that this is not the type of thing they want to do on their own – they’ll be in over their head.

While you’re giving them information, you’re giving them the headache side of it without proposing too many solutions. Try creating this as a video in addition to a downloadable blog and include a glossary in it as well.

#2 Money horoscope

This is a behavioral finance type thing for those of you financial advisors who are into that. Create some type of a sample emotional money journal and make it interesting by including a horoscope each month.

Be a teeeeny bit creative?

Yes. Don’t worry; nobody will have a heart attack upon reading it. It’s okay to be creative a little bit, financial advisors!

Turn their heads!

#3 Guide to Understanding your risk tolerance (for reeeeeal)

Miscalculation of risk and underperformance of the investment portfolio is a huge reason why people leave their financial advisor. Create a plain English risk tolerance questionnaire – but avoid the technical, esoteric questions that clients don’t have time to decipher. This is a good way to catch prospects who are ticked off at their current financial advisor.

#4 Budget for a particular event (hyper specific)

Don’t do a general budget worksheet. This is so played out. Design the budget for a particular event like getting your first mortgage, buying a house, or affording a wedding.

In fact, present a few models for these events. Get a few sample budgets to show variety and make sure they display the nuances relevant to the event.

#5 Script for what to say in your first meeting with a financial advisor (estate attorney, CPA, etc.)

This one is an SEO play. You want to write a blog with the keyword “financial advisor in [your city]”. So you make the title, “What to say in your first meeting with a financial advisor in [your city].” And then you repeat the keyword over and over in the blog. This will obviously attract people who are looking for a financial advisor in your area.

Conclusion on financial advisor lead magnets

If you found this blog helpful, please listen to my podcast below which goes into the subject in full detail. Remember to subscribe so you won’t miss future financial advisor lead generation pieces like these!

Or, are you ready to get started with some creative and fun marketing online marketing techniques? Join my membership here and let the fun begin!

More info about the Sara Grillo membership is here:

Thanks for visiting me and I hope you’ll come again!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Music is Nice to You by Vibe Tracks 

Posted on

Vid 70: Clever keyword research techniques

Finding the right keywords for your content takes patience and testing. In this video I explain a few ways for you to conduct keyword research using Google and YouTube. When you get your keywords, make sure that you write them in the title, the first paragraph, and the headings in your content. You should also […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
Posted on

Vid 69: LinkedIn polls break the pattern!

LinkedIn polls are a way to engage your audience. It’s important to implement a pattern break every so often to catch your audience off guard. You’d be surprised at how well people respond to this. Use the video below to create a LinkedIn poll that challenges your audience to think about an aspect of their […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
Posted on

Vid 68: Add some spice with featured posts!

The top of the LinkedIn page is very important in conveying your brand and attracting the viewer’s attention. At the very top you should pay attention to the headline, the about section, and headshot, and the banner photo. Don’t neglect to designate some posts as “featured” to liven up the page as well. Although located […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
Posted on

Financial Advisor Salary: How much do Financial Advisors make?

In this blog you will learn how much money financial advisors make, what financial advisors get paid, and how much a typical financial advisor salary is.

Maybe you have just started out in the wealth management industry seeking to set up some salary goals for yourself, or perhaps you are a veteran who is looking to benchmark your pay versus the industry. Or maybe somewhere in between…The subject of how much Financial Advisors get paid is often a confusing one and the topic is devoid of much accurate information. In this blog you will learn what the available research says about how much money financial advisors make, what financial advisors get paid, and how much a typical financial advisor salary is.

By the way, I made a video on this topic if you want to watch it before you dive in to the rest of this blog. Please subscribe and follow me on YouTube for more financial advisor related content.

What the Bureau of Labor Statistics says about Financial Advisor Pay

One of the reasons that the question of how much financial advisors make is such a nebulous one to answer is the lack of clear information, even from the major reporting services.

Below I am going to show you some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is what the BLS is saying about how much what they call “personal financial advisors” make as of May 2019:

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Business and Financial. Personal Financial Advisors/Pay.

I have doubts about this figure being accurate – I will explain why in a minute – but first off I want to say that I am not sure exactly how they are defining this term. As you can see pretty nebulous – like “credit intermediation”?


What does that even mean?

Its dubious to me that this financial advisor salary data is accurate because these are not the terms that financial advisors use to define themselves. And it’s unclear what this term “credit intermediation” even refers to. Most financial advisors want nothing to do with helping people get out of credit card debt. Is that what they mean? Or are they talking about lending, about providing a line of credit almost as an investment banker does.

Can we really be sure the BLS is tracking financial advisors as we define them (the person who helps you with your IRA rollover) with these numbers? It does not seem like it.

“Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities.” This sounds more like a portfolio manager, investment manager, hedge fund manager, or trader. This does not sound like the typical job description for a financial advisor, the person who helps people retire and send their kids to college.

“Management of companies and enterprises.” Is that like a CFO?

But nonetheless, the BLS states:

The median annual wage for personal financial advisors was $87,850 in May 2019…The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,950, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

Source: Ibid

Whoa, whoa, whoa. How can this be accurate?

Ummm, 10% of financial advisors make less than $42k? WTF.

First of all, if a financial advisor is earning less than $42k, they are probably a junior advisor of some sort. It is good that the BLS is using median instead of mean, because that may have helped decrease some of the skew to the left tail. At least they got that part right.

But let us be real for moment. When we ask how much financial advisors make, we are not really interested in how much junior (associate) advisors make. That is because junior advisors may or may not be licensed, and even if they are, they are not really fully in relationship development mode. They are not out there at the Chamber of Commerce meeting reeling in new people to sell whole life insurance to. This really caps the upside of their compensation.

Once a junior financial advisor does start to accumulate clients they probably become promoted to be senior financial advisors, and that is the point where they start earning the higher salaries. And good for them, because making $40k a year here in the US is a tough way to live!

My point is that the BLS really should have separated out junior financial advisor pay from this reading.

Only 10% of financial advisors make more than $208k? WTF.

I also have doubts about the accuracy of the statement that “The highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.” The BLS says that they did not include bonuses when they surveyed financial advisors who work at firms as opposed to being self-employed. That definitely will take down the measurement a notch.

But wait a minute – they were able to find financial advisors who work on salary? How’d they do that? I’m dying of curiosity.

Please tell me, all of you who are familiar with this industry, who the heck offers their financial advisors a salary? I have heard of Buckingham Strategic Wealth and Edward Jones paying their financial advisors a salary, and that is it.

A financial advisor is a salesperson and we all know that salespeople get preeeeeety lazy and complacent when you give them a salary. It would be interesting to see how many of the financial advisors surveyed about their compensation were paid on salary as opposed to getting paid the old fashioned way (like most of the industry does!)

10% make more than 200k? From what I have seen, a lot of the Financial Advisors I am dealing with tend to be making a lot more than that, way more than that. I have found it is not uncommon for a financial advisor to earn more than $200k.

I doubt this line about only 10% of advisor making more than $200k is true, because if it were true than there would not be many people wanting to actually be financial advisors. There are hundreds of thousands of financial advisors in the US. If this data were true, there would be maybe 20.

But let’s say all this BLS data is true…

If the median wage of Financial Advisors were less than $90k a year then that it is breadcrumbs in relation to the amount of liability you are taking and how hard you do have to work and keep up with your certifications.

Some of these clients are such pains in the neck. In a bad market, imagine the stress of every single client calling you ready to fire you, and you have to talk them down from the ledge figuratively of course. And then in an easy market they want to hassle you on performance and say how they could have done it better in an index and following Cramer or CNBC, and what are you getting your fees for. Then they want you to act like their personal butler to make it up to them or something. It’s not an easy job.

So here’s a better question. Regardless of how much the BLS says financial advisors make, what should they make?

Or even better, how even can financial advisors maximize the amount of money they make?

Both of these questions I am going to address next. But first, I have a question for you.

Are you enjoying my blog so far?

If so, I encourage you to follow my podcast as well. I focus on financial advisor lead generation and marketing, and I do it in a highly entertaining way just like how I’m entertaining you with this blog. Please subscribe here.

How much Financial Advisors make is highly related to how Profitable their practices are

I am going to talk about that, I actually have it sketched out, and I can talk about practice profitability and how Financial Advisors should be paid, but first I want to say something about profitability. It is not selfish to be concerned about how much you are taking home and how profitable the practice is. I had a vendor to my own firm that he went out of business. He was someone I relied upon a lot and it looks like he could not sustain his business, and he went out of business, this was really harmful to me and my firm. It caused a little bit of confusion. Luckily I was able to take advantage of other resources but it was really not a good feeling.

You have people that are depending on you and the more profitable your firm is, the greater stability there will be and you can compensate your people, and the more value I think you can give that back to your clients. So, you are not being selfish in wanting to maximize your profitability, and having said that, it doesn’t mean you have to go about this in a self-serving way.

The question then becomes; how do I maximise my compensation as a financial advisor? But how do I do this in a way that keeps the client’s best interests in mind? And that is what I have sketched out and is what I am going to look at.

Right here I am going to show you.

First let’s start by looking at the traditional model.

The traditional financial advisor profitability model stinks

Let’s say that a Financial Advisor is traditionally going to be having between 100-150 clients, let’s say you have 120, on an annual basis you are putting up about 1400 hours of work and on a weekly basis this comes out to around 29 hours a week. That’s a whole heck of a lot of hours, doesn’t mean too much time for that much else considering that you have the operational aspect of the firms, the administrative aspect and training to manage employees. All of this at a firm of this size it probably wouldn’t just be you, you would need some other support resources.

So this comes out to be a per hour rate of $125, not great on a per hour basis, annual revenue coming in at $180,000 and then the profit margin let’s say at 70%. Now this is assuming that you are an independent and you are not working at a big brokerage house and not a W2 employee because if so they are going to take a big pay-out.

Let’s say you are an independent, you have your own firm and you are getting 70% of your revenues taken home as your top line revenue. So this comes to pre-tax take-home of $126,000 assuming a 70% profit rate. After taxes, this is not that far off the BLS data.

It’s funny right? So funny I forgot to laugh.

The fact is that making this amount of money as a financial advisor stinks relative to all the stress you have to go through. Most financial advisors I know are running around like their hair is on fire. Wouldn’t you rather make more money without having to be like this?

A better paradigm for Financial Advisor profitability: The 70 Deep Model

Let’s re-examine the financial advisor profitability chart.

At 120 clients in your practice is that really a comfortable practice? I mean you are making a living; your clients are getting a service, but wouldn’t you rather do what I am calling the ’70 deep’ model which would advocate for fewer clients but having much deeper relationships with them.

So, if you have 70 clients, let’s say they are larger clients, let’s say these are ultra-high net worth clients of maybe $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 portfolio size, you are spending 840 hours a year instead of 1400  because you are assuming 1 hour per month on each client. On a weekly basis you are spending much fewer hours than in the traditional model, your revenues are coming in higher because you are making more because you are having more time to spend on each client. This allows you to really delve in deep into some of the deeper, more sophisticated planning aspects. And like I said these are larger clients, so not only do they probably have larger asset base, but there is also more to do for each clients, and it all comes out that much better in terms of profit margin.

Let’s say that maybe you are taking home a little bit more. Again, this is not totally awesome but I would assume that as a financial advisor you would be wanting to make more than that. But it does allow financial advisors to make higher compensation because with 70 clients you can burrow down deeper.

When you get these 70 clients, you are providing more sophisticated services, you have the freedom of time where you can then go up in asset size and get clients with even deeper needs.

Let’s say you created a strategy where you do this in a very deep, thorough and deliberate (careful) way, where you were very selective about who you worked with and you weren’t running around trying to scramble for the next client because you are deeply entrenched with these 70 clients here. They feel serviced you feel served. Less client turnover better for your practice, less for you to mentally be preoccupied with and then you can focus on getting even bigger clients. Your referrals will probably increase as well because with these 70 clients you have these deeper relationships and hopefully they could maybe pass on a word or two about you if you are doing a good job.

Financial advisors should increase value & profitability to increase the amount of money they make

So the point I am trying to make is here, financial advisors, is that it is overall a lot more advantageous for your compensation and the profitability of your company for you to use what I am calling the ’70 deep’ model, and for you to focus on fewer clients but really to maximize the value of what you are doing for them.

That means knowing them deeper, providing higher value and delivering more sophisticated solutions that really make a difference in their lives.

It’s not to say that with more clients you would necessarily not be able to do that, but we all have the same amount of hours in a week and if you do the math on it like I showed you in the spreadsheet, there quite simply isn’t enough mental time to focus when you have more clients that you need to take care of.

So in short what I am saying is to serve clients better, use the ’70 deep’ model and that will help you to maximize your compensation, the value of what you are doing for your clients and the overall profitability of your firm which will reward everybody in the long run.

Build your pipeline of high net worth clients!

Now how do you go about doing this?

I am publishing a lot about the topics of financial advisor marketing and financial advisor lead generation. I have a podcast on this, I have newsletters that I write on a weekly basis.

I also have a membership program, helping people to be able to develop business with these more sophisticated clients. For example, the profitability worksheet I discussed in this blog is a tool that I provide to everyone on my membership.

In order get to the 70 Deep Model, you really need to have to break away from the typical ways that Financial Advisors communicate, and go about prospecting in a higher value way. That is really what I talk about with my content.

So I hope that you will stay with me and join my podcast and/or membership, links to both are below.

Subscribe to podcast:


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Business and Financial. Personal Financial Advisors/Pay. Retrieved on July 3, 2020 from