Advisor Blog

Advisors Are Getting Ripped Off On Crappy Content Marketing And Social Tools

In preparing for a presentation on financial advisor content marketing yesterday, my worst suspicions about how advisors are getting ripped off were proven true.

I began my research by opening up LinkedIn and looking at the stream of news generated by my connections. On LinkedIn, you get a stream of updates about new connections people made, changes to their profiles, and status updates. Status updates are 140-character "tweets" linking your connections to an article, video or other valuable content. The 140-character updates are a standard on social networks and you can send these updates on Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn. I've used status updates for years to market my work and have about 2,000 advisor connections--95% of whom connected to me to get my news feed about practice management.

To keep my research honest, I went to the very first status update in my news LinkedIn stream that was posted by an advisor and clicked on it because it had a sexy headline. What unfolded was an absurd proof of how advisors are being ripped off by vendors spewing nonsense about social media and content marketing.

 

 
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5078 Hits

You Know You’re A DIYer Advisor When…

Advisors who are do-it-yourselfers have been around for years. Becoming an independent advisor -- joining a new profession -- naturally attracts entrepreneurs, DIYers who like things done their way. However, in observing independent advisors over the past 30years, I have seen the focus of DIYers shift dramatically

Five or 10 years ago, a DIYer-advisor would outsource administrative and perhaps technology tasks. Today, the range of tasks advisors outsource has grown wider, as technology improvements made outsourcing more economical. Today, advisors outsource the writing of financial plans as well as investment research and trading, relying on TAMPs, UMAs and separate account managers.

Today, DIYers focus on marketing.  A growing number of advisors have come to realize that they can more safely outsource their style of investing, financial-plan writing and even tax management, but they cannot outsource creation of their public voice. Consequently, today's DIYers among advisors are writing blogs, making videos, and creating their own Web marketing campaigns. They suddenly seem to understand the value of communicating about their niches.

They're suddenly trying to figure out how to regularly talk to a very specific audience. They're suddenly trying to figure out how to create meaningful Web content focused on their target markets. All this is great news for Advisor Products because our content creation system definitely helps advisors succeed at all this.

What's incredibly ironic, however, is that the first wealth managers to figure out that a financial advisor content stream can benefit them are DIYers.

Today's DIYers among advisors are early adopters of content marketing. And in trying to create their own content, they are the first ones outsourcing to content partners. I'll have more to say about the importance and content role of content partners another time. For now, here's a short quiz to help you figure out if you’re a DIYer advisor? If you do seven of these 10 things, you’re a DIY advisor.

  1. You write a blog post optimized for search engines at least twice a month

  2. You set up your own channel on YouTube

  3. You own professional video lighting

  4. Your firm reconciles account data daily

  5. You’ve created three Slidecasts or more

  6. You test your backups twice a year

  7. You registered your firm on Google Places

  8. You backup your computer at least weekly

  9. You use Camtasia Studio 8

  10. You host webinars monthly


Creating your own voice by blogging and participating on social media is time consuming and not for everyone. So DIYers have a distinct advantage. If you’re not a DIYer, or if you are a DIYer who wants to augment your voice with intelligent content cleverly packaged in a way for you to make it your own, check out our social media content stream below.



 
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5174 Hits

AdvisorVault Enhancements Improve Secure Client Portals For Advisors

Several enhancements were made to AdvisorVault last month in response to user requests.

Better Branding. You can now display a full size logo or banner in AdvisorVault that your clients will see. Until now, a size restriction was placed on the size of the graphic. To use a larger graphic in your client vaults, please email us the larger logo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our service team.

Portfolio Reports Folder. You can hide the “Investments” from view of clients and use any name for the folder where you upload reports. Previously, you could only upload portfolio report to certain folders and you could not rename them. Now, you can rename the portfolio reports folder and make the “home” page the folder where your client’s reports are displayed.

Template Emails From Multiple Addresses. AdvisorVault includes a template email communication system for notifying clients automatically in batches of 15 routine advisor business processes. After uploading a performance report or other document, for example, AdvisorVault generates an automatic notification that is personalized to each client. Until now, your firm could use only a single email address with the template notifications—a single advisor’s address would be displayed in the “from” field of emails generated by AdvisorVault’s template notification system. Now, each advisor in your firm can send template notifications in batches and the recipient will see his advisor’s email address in the “from” field of the email.

Simplified Batch Uploading. If you batch upload portfolio performance reports, you can hide from view any folder that you do not use to upload reports.

 

 
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5038 Hits

When Clients Need You Most, Will You Be There?



Supporting clients during life’s most difficult moments is not just the right thing for a financial advisor to do, it's a good thing to do. It builds lasting relationships and makes you invaluable.

Advisors who stored clients’ homeowners policies in AdvisorVault were heroes after Hurricane Sandy.



AdvisorVault is not just a client vault, it's a client communications system created expressly for advisors. AdvisorVault works well with any portfolio reporting and financial planning app, and most CRMs.

Moreover, AdvisorVault comes embedded with business processes that help advisors fulfill their obligations to clients. For instance, AdvisorVault can prompt your clients to upload their homeowners policies, wills, deeds, insurance, and emergency medical information to a secure cloud-based platform on your website. With AdvisorVault, it is easy to send all your clients an email listing all the documents you want them to upload in case of an emergency and a URL where they can log in to upload those documents securely.

When a hurricane or some other disaster occurs in your clients' lives, be prepared to support them. Be there for clients when they need you most by using AdvisorVault.

Call us at (888) 274 5755.




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4760 Hits

Advisor Websites, Advisor Portals Met The Test Of Hurricane Sandy

Thank you for your patience and understanding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Nassau County in Long Island, NY, where we are headquartered, was severely impacted. Our office was without power all last week. We worked from a hotel banquet room in Queens.

Fortunately, power was restored over the weekend to our office. Many of our employees, friends, and neighbors are still without power, heat, or hot water, while others have lost their homes or businesses due to flooding by the shores.

In my community, about one of every 15 homes was damaged by a falling tree. Almost every backyard has a fallen tree, and perhaps half of those knocked down power lines or are leaning on them.

It is comforting that our backup and failover facilities worked without any hiccup. Every advisor website, along with 50,000 client vaults, stayed up and available 24 x 7.

The Advisor Products staff prepared for and recovered well from the Sandy disaster, showing dedication and professionalism.

We have been tested by the worst hurricane to hit Long Island since 1938, and we have met the test. We are working hard to continue to provide the highest quality, always-available service.

If we missed your call due to our phone lines being impacted sporadically, please do not hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are grateful to the many of you who have expressed concern about the staff and our families.

Regards and we look forward to communicating again about better news soon.

 
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5037 Hits

Advisor Products Begins Operating Under Disaster Recovery Plan, As Hurricane Sandy Nears Long Island

With Long Island expecting an extended rainstorm from Hurricane Sandy and the worst coastal flooding in seven decades, Advisor Products has taken every precaution necessary to avoid any service disruption to your website, client vaults, and client portals. With the storm expected to hit Long Island in less than 24 hours, our staff has been placed on high alert and the company has begun operating under our disaster recovery plan.

Your Website And Client Portals. Our hosting facility has increased 24/7 onsite technical support and ensured the integrity of backup power generators. In the event of a utility failure, redundant generators are prepared to supply the hosting facility’s load for 24-plus hours, and contracts in place with local fuel providers require same-day delivery if needed, ensuring extended continuity of service.

Internal Systems used by the Advisor Products service team are always “virtual.” If Internet service at our Jericho, NY office is uninterrupted, our VOIP phone system should enable you to reach technical staff as you always would. In the event of an extended power outage at the Jericho office, we’ve “reserved” an empty rack in our data center. A year ago, during Hurricane Irene, a tree fell right behind our office and knocked down power lines to our building, which is home to more than 15 other businesses. We moved internal hardware and software to our hosting facility and staff operated remotely for a week. If we need to relocate mission-critical systems again, our phone system may be down for a couple of hours while  moving  and rebooting systems at the data center.

Service. Jason Gucciardo, a 12-year veteran Web developer at Advisor Products, who also fields  customer-service calls, is located in Florida and available at (516) 333-0066 x230. Nipun Manglik (x214), who is in Las Vegas for his bachelor party and probably will be stuck there for a few days, brought a laptop with him. He will be available Tuesday, and he represents what makes America great. Project managers David Lucs, Kevin Chin, and Donna Voss-Costa, will contact you to reschedule appointments and deadlines for website and newsletter projects in the process of being developed.

Advisors In Sandy’s Path. Just before the storm comes through our area, IT Manager Jason Fogelson will power down equipment housed at the Jericho office to prepare for the possibility of a power outage.  Although internal network servers have backup power supplies, they do not last long and a controlled shutdown eliminates the risk of damage to servers from a sudden shutdown. Advisors may want to take the same precaution. If you’re running Microsoft Exchange, a CRM, portfolio management software or other network software in your office, shut them down tonight or early Monday morning and reboot them after the worst has passed.

Updates Throughout The Storm. Jason Fogelson and Steve Gordonson, VP of Technology, will be providing status updates throughout the storm. Please follow Advisor Products on Twitter to stay updated about service and support.
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5132 Hits

SEO For Financial Advisors Works, And Here's Proof

Here's what the Debbie Hooge of  Vantage Advisors LLC says about SEO For Financial Advisors From Advisor Products:
In 2012 our company, after several years of frustration that our website never showed up on searches of the internet until the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google, we decided to hire Advisor Products to give our site a new look.Our previous website had cost us over $10,000 just a few years earlier.

While we were frustrated about incurring more expenses in such a short time, we knew we needed to get serious about SEO. We hired Advisor Products to do our SEO and redesign our site. As the marketing director for the firm, I was facing a lot of skepticism from the other advisors, but I persevered.

Like a lot of creative processes; the website wasn’t created overnight. The Advisor Products team worked closely with us and were very sensitive to blending their ideas with ours.

In the end, we are now on the first page of Google for our area, and our clients can actually find us. In addition, we are getting very positive feedback about the e-newsletter, calculators, and blog now associated with our website.

I could go on and on about things, like the ease of editing, the customer service, etc. But maybe the best thing I can say is that the cost benefit ratio of investing in a new website with Advisors Products is extremely positive and continues to get better.

SEO Copywriting For Financial Advisors from Advisor Products is a low cost way for advisors to improve their search  engine ranking. It is the product of years of experience in website design for advisors.

With so many snake oil salesman and ripoff artists now competing with us to build advisor websites, I am seeing advisors get sold  inexpensive sites that won't get them noticed and no content marketing features, and I am also seeing instances where advisors pay thousands for razzle-dazzle and nonsense. I am proud of the skilled team here at Advisor Products, the integrity we have maintained as competition has increased, and we remain committed  to make advisors who work with us successful at the lowest prices around.
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4602 Hits

An Easy Social Media Solution For Advisors That Really Works: Revolutionary Social Media Content Tool For Advisors Launched By Advisor Products

Many advisors don’t know how to use social media for marketing or are too busy to use it effectively. Social Media Content Stream For Financial Advisors, which was just released by Advisor Products, enables use of social media successfully with minimal effort by advisors and at a low cost.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors automatically posts status updates (also called “tweets”) to you or your company’s social network pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

The 140-character status updates contain links to wealth management articles and videos created by Advisor Products and posted to an advisor’s website. Articles and videos by Advisor Products cover financial news for high-net worth individuals. The tweets, articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed.

When your social network connections see a status update from you in which they’re interested, they click on a link in the tweet, which takes them to your website to read the article or view the video.

Feedback from the 10 advisors participating in a three-month beta test has been outstanding. One firm provided Google Analytics data showing as much as a 500% increase in traffic to its website.

The key is that this solution is incredibly easy to use and provides clients and prospects with valuable wealth management ideas.

If you're trying figure out how to benefit from social media marketing, this is the perfect solution.



Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is administered using a social media dashboard. The dashboard lets you schedule your updates. Once a week or once a month, you can schedule all your updates.

In addition, you can rewrite tweets and target them to your local market or niches, which will help boost your search engine rankings. If that’s too much work, simply set the stream to go out automatically.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is free for Platinum licensees and has already been enabled on your website. Simply log in to the Advisor Products BackOffice and hit the

You can add archiving of all your social media content for $348 annually by taking advantage of our partnership with Erado.

 

 
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4843 Hits

Is It Realistic For Advisors To Expect To Benefit From Social Media?

Despite all the hubbub about social media for advisors, adoption is slow and its effectiveness remains questionable. Obstacles to success are formidable.

Compliance. RIAs must archive social content. Signing up and setup a compliance app to capture your social media content is an expense — albeit a small one — and takes time.

Knowledge. Many advisors do not know what a status update is. They have no experience with building a network of connections and followers.

Content. Advisors don’t know what to say. It’s like putting a microphone in front of someone in a crowded room and telling them to say something smart.

Discipline. Social media is not an activity you can do once a month and expect results. It’s like drip marketing and you need to drip on people daily or every other day.

Strategy. Most advisors don’t have a well-defined target market, so they wind up posting about content not aligned with any particular strategy.

Snake Oil. Since advisors are naïve about using social media, they are getting sold solutions that sound good but don’t deliver.

I’m happy to report that Advisor Products has a solution. It’s easy, low-cost, and effective.

We’ve added a social media dashboard to our platform. In seconds, you can send a “tweet” (status update) to all your friends and connections on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

For years, we’ve been producing content for advisors, articles about wealth management, and it’s pretty widely known that our content is the best coverage of issues for high-net-worth individuals available to advisors. In the last couple of years, we’ve partnered with tax expert Bob Keebler and economist Fritz Meyer to make our content even more substantive and authoritative. With the social media dashboard, we’ve made it incredibly easy for advisors to provide status updates that link to their websites.

You can personalize each tweet with keywords aimed at your target audience, which will help you with search engine optimization. In about 10 minutes, you can schedule a tweet a day for the next week.

One advisor who has been a beta tester showed us Google Analytics statistics showing visits to his website shoot up between 100% and 500% when tweeting our content.

By placing a special “free” report about wealth management on your website, you can convert visitors to your site into prospects and some will become real clients. Plus, tweeting to your clients about wealth management keeps you in touch with them. We’ve partnered with Erado Message Control to enable you to archive your social media accounts inexpensively.

The social media dashboard is a realistic way for advisors to benefit from social media. The social media content stream for financial advisors is a realistic and effective way to get started with social media.

The social media dashboard is going live on all Platinum sites in the next couple of days. Call 888-274-5755 if you would like a demo.
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4860 Hits

In His Own Words: Financial Advisor Philip Benson On Implementation Of AdvisorVault For PortfolioCenter Reporting And Secure Client Portals

On June 1, 2012, Philip Benson Financial Services, an investment management and financial planning firm in San Francisco, purchased AdvisorVault’s integrated PortfolioCenter application from Advisor Products. AdvisorVault is a secure client portal system and can batch process PortfolioCenter reports. Within three months, Benson was successfully using the integrated application to deliver quarterly performance reports and invoices to clients securely, saving the firm time and money.

Philip Benson, 64, who spent three years at Merrill Lynch before giving up his securities sales licenses in 2003 and founding his fee-only fiduciary firm, explains his firm’s successful implementation of AdvisorVault as a secure client portal, in his own words below.

Why
We manage portfolios for 40 families — their investable assets and their children’s 529 college savings plans — and we do financial planning for most of them. I do the investment management and the financial planning along with the help of my associate. We needed to become more efficient. We did not want to raise our fees in this economy. I concluded the solution was not hiring more staff but maximizing technology. Each quarter, we both spent about a day and a half printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing the reports. It was obvious we could benefit from electronically uploading invoices and quarterly reports to a secure vault.

Research
I looked at several solutions, some of which were less expensive than Advisor Products. But AdvisorVault is keyed into financial services and Advisor Products has a relationship with Schwab Performance Technologies allowing it to provide bulk-upload features. Plus, your product has been offered for several years.

Adoption
Our project manager, Kevin Chin, suggested that, rather than sending out one mass email to all of our clients, we launch 10 clients at a time and follow up with calls to each of them when needed. That was a great approach. Out of 40 clients, only three have not signed up.

Personalized
We deduct the fees from most client accounts, but some prefer to write the check every quarter. We were able to personalize emails using AdvisorVault’s communication module for both types of billing situations. The beautiful thing is your developers make it look like the emails are coming from us directly.

Service
When I did my due diligence, I heard Advisor Products had a good product but that we might not be able to get as much support as one might want. That was absolutely not the case; it could not have been further from the truth. We got all the support we needed. And we are the type of client who may request a lot of support in the beginning and then we tend to sail on our own until something comes up when we need additional support.

Relationships
I don’t want AdvisorVault to distance me from clients. I want technology to help me stay in contact with clients and free me to build new business.  If only 75% of clients log in to look at their reports, I send an email asking the other 25% who have not logged in to ask if they need any help. When I mailed out paper statements, we did not know who was opening the envelopes. Now, I can reach out to those clients who had not reviewed their reports.

Efficiency
We were burning paper, ink and time. We were combining different documents into PDFs in preparation for printing. There was a lot of manual labor involved. The AdvisorVault piece that previously took a day and half every quarter takes about an hour now, plus we’re not spending on paper, ink, and postage.

Growth
Thus far, we haven’t done any marketing. I’ve never made an outbound cold call and all new business comes from referrals. We’ve been focused on taking care of our clients and building a solid infrastructure. We will be ready to engage in marketing and business development soon. Technology will enable us to have more free time to do this.

 

For more information about AdvisorVault, please call 516 333 0066 x224.
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4680 Hits

Failed Record Of Wall Street’s “Top” Strategists Documented By Independent Economist


For wealth managers who believe the most prudent path to investment success is broad diversification, periodic rebalancing, and choosing low-expense investments — while relying on the precepts of Modern Portfolio Theory — some good news: a scorecard from an authoritative, independent source documents the failed record of Wall Street’s top ranked strategists at picking the best and worst industry sectors.

Fritz Meyer, whose economic research is distributed by Advisor Products and Advisors4Advisors, has methodically tracked Barron’s annual interviews with Wall Street’s top strategists for over a decade. An article with details about Meyer’s findings will be published tomorrow on websites of advisory firms that license Advisor Products content for clients.

The table below compiled by Meyer, an independent economist, shows the picks and pans of 10 senior strategists from Wall Street largest firms in a Barron’s article from December 19, 2011. It tells a story of failed forecasts.



 

The telecommunications sector, for example, was favored by just two of the 10 strategists in the weekly magazine’s 2012 investment outlook. One strategist suggested avoiding the sector while seven — a majority — voiced no opinion on telecom.

As of mid-August 2012, telecom was the No. 1 performing sector, with a 19% return.  “That’s a big miss,” says Meyer.

“If you think that even the smartest strategists on Wall Street can successfully and systematically pick the right asset classes, you’d be mistaken,” says Meyer, an independent economist with 30 years of experience in the investment world, including a stint as a strategist at one of the nation’s largest mutual fund companies.

Advisor Products provides content about wealth management for clients of investment fiduciaries. Its content platform can be added to any website and includes a social media dashboard enabling advisors to distribute content targeted to high-net-worth individuals to their social networks in less than five minutes a day. AdvisorVault, its secure online file-sharing system, is licensed by more than 400 RIAs and the company provides web development, brochures and creative services to independent advisors.

 
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3 Hits

Search Engine And Ethical Considerations When Using Other People's Articles To Write Blog Posts

Advisor Products creates great financial articles for advisor clients and prospects. Should you copy and paste some of those articles and use them as blog posts? Here are some issues advisors need to know about when using other people's content.

Content posted to many websites does you no good with search engines. To benefit from search engines, you  need unique content. To be clear, Advisor Products articles about wealth management are posted on hundreds of advisor websites. They’re not unique. So they do not help you with search engine optimization. Nor do they hurt you. The point is, if you buy articles from a vendor and post them on your website and other advisors also post the same exact articles to their websites, the articles may be great reading but they do not help you with search engines.

Making Articles Written By Others Your Own. The way to use articles by written by other people to gain search engine benefits is to make them your own. That does not mean changing a couple of words. It means using the article written by someone else as the basis for your own story -- pulling a few key facts but rewriting it to your specific audience.

For example, we recently posted an article for advisors to use on their websites about Section 179 deductions.  Yesterday I was speaking with an advisor who specializes in working with veterinarians and suggested he rewrite that article and make it pertain specifically to vets. Write about the equipment they typically might be using a 179 deduction for. Write about a local vendor who sells that equipment and how it helps to document the purchases. Localizing the story will also help you with search engines.

Don't game the search engines because they could penalize you for that. If you just change a few words in an article and try to outsmart the search engine robots that crawl your site, you put yourself at risk of being penalized. From my research, it seems there is no exact formula about how much an article can be duplicated without the search engines ignoring it. But Google and the other search engines are getting used and being relied upon on the Web because they provide authentically good information. So my personal take on this is to be honest and credible and rewrite an article written by others to really make it your own.

Ethical And Regulatory Considerations. Apart from the search engine considerations, using an article written by someone else on your website raises ethical and could raise regulatory issues. About 15 years ago, Bob Plaze, the outgoing Deputy Director of the Investment Management Division of the SEC, told me that RIAs should not take credit for writing articles that other people write. Ever since then, Advisor Products policy has been to post a disclosure on websites and newsletters we create for advisors saying that articles we provide are written by someone other than the advisor. For me, it was as much an ethical issue as a regulatory one.

Not all vendors serving advisors do this, however. Some vendors appear not to know about the regulatory risk that could be involved when an advisor posts  an article written by someone else as it were written by him, and other seem oblivious to the ethical issues.

Advisor Products makes no compromises on ethical and regulatory issues. We tell advisors when we feel like they may be doing something that could land them in trouble. We also submit all articles made available on websites and in newsletters to FINRA for review -- even though so many of our users are RIAs that do not need FINRA review of content -- because it's the prudent thing to do. FINRA's advertising rules aimed at protecting consumers are similar in most ways to the SEC rules regulating RIAs, so it is good practice for RIAs to use FINRA-reviewed content. Since the SEC does not review content, the only way you'll know when you've published advertising without necessary disclosures is when you're being cited by the agency or a state regulator for a deficiency.

Taking positions like this has sometimes opened Advisor Products to criticism and we've probably lost some business because of it, but we don't cut corners when it comes to ethics and compliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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4733 Hits

Advisor Products Launching Open Source Content Management System For Advisor Websites

In 1997, when Advisor Products first started providing advisor websites (as AdvisorSites), there were no open-source content management software (CMS) systems. WordPress and Joomla were not founded until 2005. While Drupal was founded in 2001, it gained little traction until 2004.

Over the last few years, however, open-source CMS has flourished. WordPress, the most popular, is used by 16.7% of all websites, Drupal on 2.1%, and Joomla on 2.8%, according to W3Schools. Among the World Wide Web’s most visited one million sites, Drupal is the CMS reportedly used by 9.1%, Joomla by 11.1% and WordPress by 63.2%.

Open source CMS is popular because it’s free. Yes, free. These CMS apps are operated by not-for-profit organizations. The free software movement is an amazing phenomenon and books have been written about it. But the main thing most advisors probably care about is that, because they are free, Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress have spawned large communities of developers.

Tens of thousands of programmers around the world have built apps that extend WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.  Like add-ons for Firefox, apps in the Apple iOS App Store, and Play for Google’s Android operating system (formerly called Market), these extensions make it easy to make improvements to a website.

Say you want to add a rotating banner to your website, one that changes a graphic and text displayed in a big rectangular box across the top of your home page. In minutes, you can find a free or inexpensive extension on a CMS app store that does it for you. Web development is suddenly easier and you can come to market with the latest widgets and apps much more quickly by relying on open-source CMS.

Advisor Products chose Joomla because it is extremely versatile. While WordPress is simpler, it’s really a blog platform and is not as powerful as Drupal or Joomla. Drupal, while also more powerful than WordPress, is more complex and unwieldy than Joomla. Joomla is a happy medium.

Advisor Products has built a new “BackOffice” application that gives advisors control over their websites using Joomla’s powerful features. We’ve created components to add Advisor Products’ content to your Joomla-powered website. You can change text and graphics on any page, add new pages, and easily keep your site fresh with new content and tools. Because the system is so easy to use and renders beautifully designed Web pages with rich social, video and textual content, you are more likely to use the CMS system to keep your site fresh.

Many small independent Web developers use Joomla to develop websites for advisors, but they lack the support staff, content and industry knowledge necessary to create a successful financial advisor website.  Often these developers will not give you access to edit the site yourself.

We’ve come across one advisor who paid $27,000 for a Joomla site and branding that we charge $3000 for, and he was given now way to change his website himself. And just yesterday I spoke with an advisor who paid $14,000 for a WordPress site and had little choice but pay $100 an hour for his web developer to make simple changes to the site. We don't behave that way here.

We’re now able to add the most modern widgets and graphics to advisor websites and all of it is integrated with AdvisorVault, client portals, and our wealth management content.

Initially, the new CMS platform is available to RIAs only. It has not been integrated with our compliance tool for broker-dealer pre-approval of content. But that’s coming. We’ll keep you updated.

Please call us at 516 333-0066 if you would like to know how you can use this cutting-edge technology to improve your website marketing and client communications.
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5013 Hits

Thinking Like Your Prospects Is Key To Advisors Succeeding In Search Engine Optimization

Advisor-Products-Webinar-Replay
Do you see things from your ideal client’s perspective? To succeed in using search engine optimization to market your firm, that mindset is required.

After last week’s Advisor Products webinar about marketing, I spoke with one of the attendees about his search engine optimization and content marketing strategy.

 



While this advisor is a licensed professional, he’s not an SEO expert, and he was having trouble with the notion that using social media to engage a very specific type of investor could be more rewarding than marketing to the broad masses. So I explained that writing a blog about financial problems of doctors in LA would indeed bring him a smaller readership than writing a blog for all small business owners in LA, but that the doctors who found his blog about their specific financial problems would be more likely to appreciate his specialized knowledge, he got that.

But what would be his best niches? Is it plastic surgeons in LA, Amgen senior managers, beauty salon owners? He would give that more thought, he said. But the exercise we went through was helpful.

By definition, until you understand that marketing to a specific group is more effective than marketing to everyone, you won’t be able see things from your ideal clients’ perspective, and, therefore, you won’t be able to identify the key words your ideal clients will use to search for you on the Web. You will fail at SEO.

However, once you commit to specializing in a specific client-type — lobstermen in Maine, chiropractors in Kansas City, or airplane pilots in Atlanta — you can speak to them directly over the Web.

I do it. That’s why you’re reading this! I’ve defined my niche and I am speaking to you because you are a professional financial advisor. You are probably credentialed and hungry for growth. I provide you information you value. So you might click on my tweets, read my blog and follow me on social networks.

You can do it, too. You can host webinars for dentists in Denver, and share financial ideas addressing their issues, and they will find you via search engines. You can post tweets for professors in Pittsburgh, Slidecasts for senior executives at a local tech company, and videos for owners of diners in Long Island. If you post content that diner owners in Long Island need to know, they will find and follow you.

For instance, say you tweet, blog, and make videos targeted to owners of owners of McDonald’s franchises about the new 3.8% federal surtax. A year from now, when an owner sells his franchise, he’ll want to shield his children’s passive gain on the sale, and he’ll think of you because you’ve been sending him ideas on this very topic to him.

If you can define your niches, then think like hem and imagine how they will find you. What would wealth management problems might cause an Amgen employee to go on the Web and search for help? If you know senior managers at GM have a deadline to decide on what to do about their pensions,  what search terms will they use to find help with making the decision?  If you use those search terms in your blogs, tweets, and other content on your website, they will find you and follow you. Over a year or two,  these people who are searching for a needle in a haystack will call you and become clients because you specialize in solving their financial problems.

Content marketing is utilized on the Internet by businesses, but few financial advisors implement an SEO program because it costs money or time. Doing it right requires knowledge of SEO and wealth management as well as the ability to write words people will want to read. It’s not easy and success depends on doing it right. But if you do it right, it works. The fact that you’re reading this proves it.

 
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4810 Hits

How Is Advisor Products Different?

I was on the phone with an advisor today who asked me why he should not choose a less expensive advisor website vendor or hosting service.

I showed him AdvisorVault and how he could easily and securely provide clients information about their portfolios, financial plans, and estate plans — information about their future and the future of their families.

Then, I showed him an article that we posted to advisor websites and social content stream a day ago or two entitled, “Is Media Biased Toward Bad Financial News.” Here's a snippet:
Headlines about the economy in July sounded dire. “IMF Says Doubt Weighs On Economy,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “Economy Looks Weaker As Retail Sales Slump,” said The Boston Globe. “Fiscal Cliff Could Trigger U.S. Recession: IMF Economist,” according to a CNBC story.

“‎While the U.S. economy indeed was not growing briskly this summer, it was growing, and gloomy headlines belied reasons for optimism. Here are counterpoints to bad news and recession-mongering, reasons to expect that a slow-growth recovery will continue.”

The article, like all the stories we provide on advisor websites and for use on social media by advisors, reflects the perspective of an advisor. When you link to articles in the press, they don’t have your perspective. They want to sell papers and get eyeballs.

In addition, the article was submitted for expedited FINRA review, a process we go through every month so that we can post timely news for use on advisor websites and newsletters. Even if you’re an RIA with no BD, FINRA’s review helps ensure nothing promissory, unsubstantiated, or outlandish goes to clients.

The article, which provides details on seven pieces of good economic news, is based on authoritative sources, in this case, ideas from economist Fritz Meyer. The story presents a well-reasoned analysis based on data.

The Web has created an information explosion so loud that rising above the din is extremely difficult. The only way you can hope to get through is by providing real knowledge and valuable ideas. Imparting valuable information about your clients’ wealth is the kind of marketing to which advisors should aspire, and that’s what makes Advisor Products different.

 

 
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4807 Hits

Batch Upload Invoices And Other Documents And Deliver Them Securely To Each Of Your Clients

RIAs can now batch process invoices and other documents using a new feature in AdvisorVault. The "batch upload" feature lets you process documents created in just about any application and deliver them securely to each individual client's vault.

RIAs usually produce some documents and reports en masse for all clients. Billing statements, tax analysis, and portfolio reports are often produced in a batch of 50, 100 or 500, for example. Being able to securely deliver such documents in a single upload streamlines your operations, saves time, and increases communication with clients about their personal financial data.

The new batch upload feature in AdvisorVault allows you to upload for all your clients in a single upload, and yet each document is automatically be posted to each client’s vault. In addition, AdvisorVault can automatically notify each client about the upload in a personalized email from you that also also sent en masse.

The batch upload feature works with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other documents, including Adobe PDFs,and it also works with any professional software you use for performance reporting, financial planning, billing or other internal tasks.

The batch upload feature parses client files based on a unique identification number. AdvisorVault uses that unique identification number to drop each document into the corresponding client’s vault. After a batch upload is set up one time, you can upload use the batch process for that file again anytime. An AdvisorVault technician helps you set up your upload the first time.

You can batch upload to any folder in AdvisorVault that you designate and can set a deletion date for each batch.  For example, you can set invoices posted in batch today to be deleted on January 1, 2014.

While the batch upload feature allows an advisor to batch process reports from any application, this is not the same as using AdvisorVault’s XML batch process. AdvisorVault’s integration with Advent Axys, AssetBook, and PortfolioCenter batch processes client performance reports to create dynamic HTML reports, which provide a more interactive user experience in your performance reports.

With some RIAs telling us their state regulator is now requiring them to show proof that their clients have viewed their quarterly invoices, the batch uploading to  AdvisorVault could become more important. Please let us know if you would like us to develop a report allowing your firm to see which clients did not view their quarterly invoices. If there is heavy demand for this report, we’ll accelerate development of this feature.

AdvsorVault’s batch upload software costs $1,000 a year and setting up each batch process costs $300. Call us at 516-333-0066 ext. 224 for a demonstration.

 
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4711 Hits

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors Doubled Unique Visitors To RIA's Website


Charles D. Jones Capital Management, an RIA in Waco, Texas, says Social Media Content Stream For Advisors from Advisor Products is doubling unique visitors to its website.

“The data is pretty compelling,” Jones said in an email to me last week. “It explains itself better than I can.” Jones sent data from his Google Analytics account showing that unique visitors to his website doubles on days when he uses the wealth management content stream provided by Advisor Products.


Advisor Products released Social Media Content Stream For Advisors to beta testers eight weeks ago. It automatically posts status updates (also called “tweets”) to an advisor’s social networks. The 140-character updates link to wealth management articles and videos created by Advisor Products and posted to an advisor’s website. When your social connections see a status update in which they’re interested, they can click on a link embedded in the status update and it takes them to your website to read the full article.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is administered using a social media dashboard. The dashboard lets you schedule your tweets. So you can long in once a week or once a month and schedule all your tweets to be posted once a day. You can also rewrite the tweets and target them to your local market or niches, which will help with search engine optimization. Alternatively, you can your dashboard settings can automatically post your status updates and run on “autopilot.”

If you are an Advisor Products Platinum client, Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is free. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to turn on your social media dashboard. You can add archiving of all your social media content for $348 annually by taking advantage of our partnership with Erado.

 

 
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4576 Hits

Making Your Client Portal Compelling And Easy For Clients


Advisor Products has nearly five years of experience in developing client portals and provides secure portals to more than 45,000 clients of RIAs.

The key to success, we’ve learned, is in making it easy on clients.

By automatically notifying a client whenever their advisor uploads a document, AdvisorVault puts an unprecedented amount of personal financial information at your clients’ fingertips.

You’re not sending clients “canned” information. It’s about their accounts, their wealth. Clients care about that.

Your clients are not morons. They know AdvisorVault notifications provide important and personal financial information. Some clients check data daily, but most check it once a month or less.

Knowing the information is there is what’s important to clients.

Telling clients the information will always be there is good marketing for advisors.


Email Module


To notify clients when new personal information becomes available, AdvisorVault’s email communication module makes it easy to create “template emails.”

Template emails generated in AdvisorVault include your logo and come from your personal email address. They are captured by your email archive system.

The body of the text of template emails in AdvisorVault is personalized. John Smith gets a “Dear John Smith” email with a personalized URL to log into his personal portal.



The screenshot above shows 16 template emails included with AdvisorVault, covering the most common activities of advisors using client vaults. For example, when an advisor uploads a document, the email at the top of the list, “Advisor Document Upload,” can be sent automatically.



Setting up an automatic email notification is easy for an advisor. In the screenshot above, each of the email templates checked off will be sent automatically. Whenever you add a new client vault or reset a client’s password, for example, a template email can be sent automatically.

Template emails can be sent in batch or one at a time. If you change all of your clients’ passwords or upload a document for all of your clients, for instance, all of them can be sent an email notification.

Also you can create your own template emails. If you batch upload clients’ brokerage statements, for example, you can write an email and that will be automatically sent. The email is short but personal.

Marketing Advantage

While unbridled transparency may not fit your style currently, those who practice this way are likely to find the transparency a marketing advantage. Plus it’s the right thing to do.

This is where the world is headed. Full-disclosure is your friend. It’s what fiduciaries do.

You can be the guy who makes information available to clients over the Web. Or not.

If not, those who do embrace transparency this way will be happy to compete against you.

Client portals offered by advisors are not consumer apps. They’re made for advisor clients. Email templates is just one feature of many enabled by AdvisorVault that advisors won’t get from consumer apps like Dropbox and FileShare, which are being promoted by some consultants who don’t have our experience.

Data from portfolio management, CRM, and professional applications can’t be found in consumers apps. With 50 million users, integration with your PMS system is not a high priority to DropBox. It is a high priority in AdvisorVault.

Batch Process Any File

AdvisorVault recently launched an app that lets you batch process any file you get in a batch. If you get 1099s, brokerage statements, tax returns, or any other documents in batch, you can batch upload them to AdvisorVault.

For Methodical Advisors Only

AdvisorVault is not for everyone. Advisors who do not want to share information with clients won’t like it. Advisors who won’t follow through with setting up clients with vaults and using template emails are also not well suited for it. It’s only for advisors with an attention span long enough to facilitate following through with a plan.

Coming Soon

AdvisorVault is continuously evolving. New features we’re planning to deliver in the next 12 months will allow you to deliver clients your Form ADV, provide “star” reports on mutual funds, and enable clients to sign account documents digitally.  In addition, we plan to be enable delivery of personalized news in a client’s vault so you can address behavioral finance issues in times of volatility. We also plan to integrate with consumer vault systems like AdvisorVault so advisors can easily move documents from the most popular consumer apps to AdvisorVault’s app for professionals.
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3 Hits

How An RIA With $1.6 Billion AUM And Serving As A Multi-Family Office Uses Advisor Products Client Vault

After 25 years as a hand surgeon, Dr. Bob Tucker left his position as medical director of a large orthopedic group in St. Louis in 2006 to become a financial advisor. Tucker joined Plancorp, an RIA in St. Louis with $1.6 billion AUM founded by Jeff Buckner. Buckner, a co-founder of Zero Alpha Group, a network of nine RIAs managing about $9 billion, gave Tucker oversight of operations, drawing on his experience in running a medical practice.

In October 2010, Plancorp selected AdvisorVault as its client portal platform. Plancorp, which uses Schwab PortfolioCenter for portfolio management and reporting, uploads client data daily to AdvisorVault.

“There were some technology issues initially, but they’ve been resolved, says Tucker. “Our clients do like it and we like it.”

Tucker says it takes about 15 minutes a day for staffer to upload the portfolio data. “Every client’s vault is branded to Plancorp, and we like that,” says Tucker. “We also like the fact that we are presenting clients with HTML reports and not just PDFs.”

AdvisorVault, like many client portfolio reporting solutions, allows RIAs to prepare PDF reports. The HTML reports use the Web medium better, allowing an RIA to present links to securities with Podcasts, news and other data. In addition, HTML reports are interactive allowing clients to export tables to Excel, reorder a report by clicking on a column heading, drill down into links to individual tax lots, and more.

Plancorp inserts a disclosure that all its clients must view before accessing reports in AdvisorVault.

Tucker says the firm recently added AdvisorVault’s integration with TD Ameritrade Institutional, which is free with AdvisorVault. TD Ameritrade Institutional integration with AdvisorVault allows RIAs to provide their clients with access to TDAI account data daily from the RIA’s website instead of directing clients to the TDAI Veo advisor-client website.

RIAs can see reports on which clients are logging into AdvisorVault to check account values and which documents are viewed. In addition, RIAs can post content that all clients will see before accessing account statements, enabling advisors to address behavioral finance issues in times of volatility.

While an operations staffer is charged with uploads of daily performance data, Tucker says financial planning associates are responsible for uploading other wealth management documents for clients. As a service to clients, Plancorp offers to post estate documents, tax returns, health care proxies, passports and more. Tucker says that although not all clients “recognize the value of having those documents available from any internet connection, a number have posted their own documents.”

Tucker says use of the vault by client is not correlated with age. “It’s more highly correlated with how obsessive the client is and whether they see the value in having documents in a place where they are safe and accessible. I don’t know that they’re interested in technology as much as the benefit.”

Attorneys, accountants, and other allied professionals are provided vault access, Tucker says. “We have created vaults for key professionals with whom we share a lot of data.” Tucker says Plancorp has relationships with several accounting firms with mutual clients, and professionals at those firms are given access to their clients’ documents.

“Another situation is a family office, where we give the outside professionals access to certain parts of the vault,” he says. “Plancorp provides the family office, but if the family has attorneys and accountants, we’ve structured vault access so that those professionals can get access to some documents.”

Tucker cited the case of a family matriarch who gets access to everything in her family vault, but her children get access that is “somewhat limited.” “Anything we can do to strengthen the relationship with next generation is done” using AdvisorVault, says Tucker.

Advisor Products is proud to have Plancorp using its secure client portal systems.

 

 

 
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4690 Hits

How A Sole Practitioner Is Scaling His RIA With Client Portals

With a background as an industrial engineer, CFP® Rick Epple says he realized in December 2008 that he needed to radically shift the way he managed his practice. “After the market crash in October 2008, I thought to myself that I could not do this anymore,” says the founder of Epple Financial in Wayzata, Minn. “With all the time it took to reassure clients, the fact that my technology systems did not talk to each other made it difficult to quickly get information and communicate.”

“I took a step back and asked myself what my vision was for my practice, and it was clear that I had to automate more,” Epple says, “I needed a system where I did not have to spend as much time accessing client data, where information would be at my fingertips and my clients’ fingertips.”

In early 2009, Epple decided to make the Client Portal his platform for secure client communication. He made the decision because of Client Portal’s interface with Redtail CRM. After further research, Epple selected AssetBook as his firm’s portfolio management accounting application, largely because of its integration with the Advisor Products Client Portal. He chose MoneyGuide Pro as his financial planning solution because it, too, was integrated with the Client Portal from Advisor Products.

“Changing everything was not an easy process,” says Epple. “You don’t have to be an industrial engineer to do it, but you need to make the time and financial commitment to transfer to new systems. You must be able to handle change and follow through on your plans.”

By July 2010, Epple says all of his practice management systems were running smoothly and he was ready to start marketing and scaling up.  “The benefit were not evident until early 2011,” he says. That year, Epple says his fee-only firm’s assets under management rose more than 40% from $26 million to $37 million. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, Epple Financial Advisors was at $42 million in AUM.

“It took me from working in the business to working on the business,” says Epple, who added 13 new clients and is now focused more on working with dentists and business owners in the Lake Minnetonka area near Minneapolis, Minn.

According to Epple, once AssetBook, MoneyGuide Pro, and Redtail were set up to feed client data into each client’s portal, the benefits of the automation kicks in. “The difficult part of the shift is not the Client Portal,” says Epple, “It’s switching over client data and then learning use new tools for performance reporting, financial planning and client relationship management.”

Epple says a virtual assistant sets up a portal and vault for each new client. The portal automatically generates email notifications to clients and forces them to create “strong” passwords. “It’s a user-friendly system and it does not take a lot of work to implement,” Epple says.

Some clients log into their portals daily to check their performance of their portfolios, which Epple says “does make me a bit nervous.” However, he says they are also looking at the same time at performance of their financial plan’s performance, which puts portfolio performance in perspective. On average, Epple says his 37 clients check their portal once a month.

A feature in the client portal that Epple is using extensively allows him to assign to-dos to clients. Epple creates a to-do in Redtail’s CRM and checks a box to automatically push it into a client’s portal. Clients receive an email telling them to log into their portals whenever they are assigned a to-do.

“I love the fact that my notes ion my CRM regarding a to-do for a client is exactly the same as what the client sees,” Epple says. “I don’t have copy and paste and it’s really easy.”

Epple says he meets with three times in the first four months of every new client-relationship. In that period, a series of “standard” to-dos are assigned to clients, such as getting their latest tax returns from their accountants. Other to-dos are more personalized. “Right now I am looking at whether a client should refinance the mortgage on a vacation home and communicating the personal information involved using the client portal and vault,” he says.

Epple says clients must have a “comfort level with technology” to use the portal. “But I have clients who are retirees and barely know how to use a computer but love the client portal and think it’s cool,” Epple says.

 
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4801 Hits

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How and why does the Advisor Products system work?

In today’s times, when consumers have become more demanding and tech-savvy, financial advisors must use content marketing to attract, inspire, engage, and convert their prospective customers.

A good content strategy is focused on developing and distributing consistent, valuable content to engage and retain prospective customers and target audience, via your website. Our content library provides financial advisors with fresh, high-quality financial content that is updated regularly, improving SEO along the way. And our automated e-newsletter and social media tools allow advisors to reach out to clients and prospects in an easy-to-use manner, providing frequent touch points for optimal brand building.

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  • Expose clients and prospects to your brand message more frequently
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  • Drive more prospects to your website
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  • Increase number of pages indexed in Google
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