Advisor Blog

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector Simplifies Secure Document Sharing For Financial Advisors

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AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, which enables financial advisors to drag and drop any file on their desktop to a client’s vault, is headed for testing shortly and we are seeking beta users.

AdvisorVault is a fully encrypted web-based system for financial advisors enabling secure sharing of personal financial documents with clients, estate planning attorneys, and accountants.

Desktop Connector enables advisors to drag and drop any file to a client’s vault from the desktop and eliminates the need to open a browser and upload files.  You can also drag and drop files from a client's vault to your computer locally.


Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems, AdvisorVault Desktop Connector lets advisors view all of their clients’ vaults and drill down in each vault’s folders.

AdvisorVault  Desktop Connector simplifies secure document-sharing with clients. Just open Windows Explorer or Mac Finder, navigate to a document on a local drive or network, and drag and drop it from Explorer or Finder into a client folder in Desktop Connector.

You don’t need to open a browser, navigate to a client’s vault, browse your local drive to select the target document, and wait for the document to upload. All of those steps are eliminated.

Desktop Connector will be available at no additional charge to AdvisorVault users.

AdvisorVault integrations with Schwab PortfolioCenter, Advent Axys, Albridge Solutions, MoneyGuide Pro, and other leading professional applications imports client reports in batches.

Desktop Connector allows advisors to quickly post reports one-by-one from any application—even those not integrated with AdvisorVault. For example, while AdvisorVault has no integration to post a batch of all your client reports from NaviPlan or Sungard financial planning applications, an advisor using Dektop Connector can individually drag and drop client reports from these apps into AdvisorVault.

If you would like to volunteer to be a beta tester, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  5279 Hits
5279 Hits

A Video Holiday Wish (In Song) From Advisor Products

Unfortunately, a few members of the Advisor Products staff, who can sing really well, were out of town or camera shy, but we nonethless posted this holiday greetings to our friends.

Thanks for making 2010 great, and happy holiday!

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4419 Hits

A Video Studio For Financial Advisors For Under $750

Financial advisors can build their own video studio for $750 or less. We did it and it was easy.

You can buy a support system for a backdrop for $150.

For the backdrop, we wanted that clean, white look that is in vogue on the Web right now. So we bought a white blanket at Bed Bath & Beyond for $30 and draped t over the support system.

For lighting, we used a kit that costs about $500.

For the camera, we used a Creative Labs Vado that costs $65. We also used an $8,000 professional camcorder.

See below the difference beween the two camcorders.

I'm not happy with the lighting and will work on it in the weeks ahead. Should not be hard to make it look really good. Maybe I'll splurge and buy a better camcorder than the $65 Vado.

To see future posts on this topic, visit Advisors4Advisors.com.

An Advisor Products webinar about how financial advisors can produce video updates and optimize them for search engine rankings received a 4 1/2 star-rating from from attendees.

Here’s the video we made with the $65 camcorder.


Here’s the video we made with the $8000 professional unit.
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4699 Hits

The $27,000 Advisor Website Package: A True Tale

There’s an old saying in the financial services industry: insurance is not bought, it’s sold.

I’m seeing that with advisor websites.

Advisor websites are getting sold. Instances of price-gouging and sales hype have come across my desk more often lately in the sale of advisor websites.

Admittedly, my evidence is anecdotal, but in the 15 years since founding Advisors Products, I’ve only seen this level of hype once before—during the dotcom boom of 1999.

The rise in unsavory sales of advisor websites accompanies a shift in the industry in favor of local independent design shops. Advisors are using local designers and consultants more often, getting sold “branding packages.” In fact, local design firms and independent are now the main competitors to Advisor Products.

Advisor Products has focused in recent years on developing client portals for advisor websites, which shifted the company away from competing with traditional advisor website development companies. We often work with independent designer and marketing consultants because advisors utilize our “backend” tools—AdvisorVault, portfolio performance reporting, email newsletters, financial advisor content—while hiring  independent consultants for marketing and design assistance.

What I’m seeing is that a small number of these local design firms and independent consultants are using the technical mumbo-jumbo as an excuse to overcharge advisors, and sometimes problems are arising with misleading claims about search engine optimization or an advisor website.

This week, I worked with an advisor now on the hook for $27,000 for a website, logo, and SEO copywriting package that gives him far less than what Advisor Products provides for about a third of the cost. He’s switching to Advisor Products.

The site looks good, but it was built using an open-source content management system (CMS) template.

Open source CMS platforms are great. The big ones, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are growing explosively, and local design shops have flocked to them, and for good reason.

Open-source platforms publish their source code, enabling programmers all over the world to develop plug-ins and overlays. So if you want to add a blog you your Joomla site, for example, Joomla has an app store and you choose from a long list of add-ons, called extensions, that are free or low cost.  

Cool features like blog moderation, integration with email newsletters, event calendars, news headline display, and other functionality can be added easily to a website using the extensions. Apps stores for Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla make it easy to display a Twitter-stream on a page of an advisor website, add and manage polls, or embed videos you post on YouTube.

Point is, the advisor who called this week was sold a template website built on Joomla plus a few website pages of copy that had been optimized for search engines, and a logo. Total cost: $27,000.

In addition to overcharging by a huge amount, the advisor is very limited in his ability to change content on his website because of an extremely restrictive configuration of the Joomla CMS platform.

Advisor Products works with many outside designers and marketing consultants and the vast majority are good and honest. We don’t have a monopoly on great graphic design and our development process enables advisors to use their favorite designers and consultants and leverage our specialized tools.

Advisor Products builds websites for firms using open source CMS when appropriate, depending on your circumstances. In fact, we’re in the process of integrating our proprietary financial advisor content and compliance tools for advisor websites with an open-source CMS platform.

But the growth of open source CMS platforms has allowed some greedy operators to take advantage of advisors who don’t know much about website development. So watch out.

If you want to work with a marketing consultant or design firm and also leverage AdvisorVault, Client Portals and other apps we provide to financial advisors, we welcome your business. And if you want us to evaluate the deal you are getting from a local designer or marketing consultant, we’ll give you an honest assessment.  

We’re transparent.
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4363 Hits

Using Your Apps As A Marketing Tool

Having a great client portal doesn’t only make your firm more efficient, it also helps you acquire new clients. When financial advisors buy Client Portals from Advisor Products, they can post two videos to their websites that demonstrate the benefits of these advisor technology platforms to clients and prospects. The videos are free for any financial advisor that purchases an Advisor Products website with AdvisorVault or Client Portals.
Continue reading
  4790 Hits
4790 Hits

SEO For Financial Advisors Without The Hype

To financial advisors, search engine optimization (SEO) is arcane. As a result, financial advisors seeking SEO assistance are often sold on hype.

A couple of months ago, for example, an advisor who’s been a client of Advisor Products for years, told me that he was thinking of moving his website. A consultant, who is now making the rounds with advisors, had told him Advisor Products could not build a blog site for him with social media features to help boost his website’s search engine rankings. 

So I asked the advisor exactly what the consultant was offering him. The answer: a WordPress blog site. WordPress is a free open-source content management system. Anyone can use it! If he wanted a WordPress blog, we could build it for him. Any web developer can! (A WordPress blog can’t integrate the Advisor Products compliance engine used by broker/dealers—at least not now—but he this advisor is not affiliated with a B/D and did not need the compliance engine. So we added a WordPress blog to his website with all of the social media features he was looking for and saved him from rebuilding his site from scratch.

Still, the episode alerted me to the fact that Advisor Products needed to make social media and SEO more understandable and accessible to advisors. Although we had produced about 10 educational webinars for advisors over the last couple of years addressing social media and SEO for financial advisors, we needed to do something make it easier to get started with SEO and social media marketing—something that would  it less arcane and more affordable.  

After months of planning, Advisor Products last week began offering a comprehensive suite of practical SEO and social media services geared specifically to financial advisors.  

Our approach is modular. It allows a firm with a tight budget to get started with search engine optimization of their website for local listings and map listings. But we also allow an advisory firm that already has done some SEO work to improve their search engine rankings by adding a series of blog posts packed with their keywords, profiling their target clients in SEO-friendly write-ups, or utilizing social media marketing. The six SEO services are:

Advisor Products’ suite of SEO services is different from others because we have clearly defined a full range of SEO engagements for advisors, eliminating the mystery so you understand what you’re getting. We’re not hiding behind a bunch of jargon and making promises we can’t keep.

One other way our service is different is that we’re going to teach you SEO techniques that you can use every day. Simple tips, like telling you to post comments on consumer financial websites like Mint or Motley Fool with a back-link to related information on your website, can improve your search engine rankings. We’ve written blog entries and provided educational webinars about ideas like this for many months, and we are now going to provide educational content regularly to advisors using our SEO services.

SEO is no longer something you can outsource to a firm and let them handle. The growing popularity of blogs, status updates, and information sharing on social means advisors and their staff must get involved in creating content to improve your search engine rankings.

What do you think? Are you mystified by SEO? Have the educational blog posts and webinars we’ve been conducting helping you? Are you going planning on using SEO techniques on 2011?
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4431 Hits

The Semantic Web And Financial Advisors

The Semantic Web automates activities that now require human intervention by structuring information on the Internet. In a few years, Semantic Web will enable your phone to alert you when you’re out of milk, locate a mobile grocery service cruising your neighborhood, and request a milk delivery to your door. The Semantic Web is a long way off from realizing its potential, but it is now powering search engines and that’s why advisors need to know about it.

The Semantic Web, a phrase coined in 1999 by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet, will utilize many computer languages and technologies to make machines talk to each other. One of the languages is HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), the language of used to develop web pages.

In Web 2.0, standards are taking hold governing the use of HTML to program Web pages. For instance, the standard way of marking up text you want to emphasize on a Web page has been using <i> to format a font with italics or <b> boldface type. While tagging text with that code formats the typeface, it does not indicate how important the italicized or boldface information is.

Now, with the Semantic Web taking hold, the tag <em> (emphasis) is used instead of <i> or <b>. The <em> tag is one of many Semantic HTML tags that can be used by search engines to index information on the Web.

Web crawlers used by search engines to index information on the Internet now look for Semantic HTML tags to determine the most important ideas on a page. The Semantic Web thus automates a process that once could only be accomplished with human interaction and allows search engine algorithms to make information the Web more useable and seaerchable.

For advisors, understanding the Semantic Web is important because it enables creating a site that is easy to be indexed by search engines. The easier it is for search engines to index your website and understand the information it contains, the better your search engine results will be.

At Advisor Products, we now program websites using Semantic HTML. This makes it more likely that advisors with Advisor Products websites will be ranked higher by search engines.

In addition, our BackOffice content management system, which is packed with features for managing financial advisor websites, includes a user-friendly “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor that creates Semantic HTML.  

WYSIWYG Web-page editors allow advisors and their staff to changes on their website. These user-friendly editors are used throughout the Web to post text to blogs, status updates, profiles and other Web pages. But they are controversial because they often don’t produce clean, Semantic HTML.

Advisor Products’ BackOffice HTML editor is programmed to allow financial advisors to produce Semantic HTML and boost advisor search engine rankings.

Semantic HTML provides six levels of heading tags, tagged as H1 through H6.Search engines will give more weight to the text within these tags. But you must select Heading 1 through Heading 6 to use these Semantic HTML tags.

In addition to making it easy for you to post Semantic HTML, we are hand-coding HTML tags where needed when financial advisors purchase any of our search engine optimized (SEO) copywriting solutions.
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4581 Hits

Tweet To Your Clients, Prospects, & Referral Sources Using Advisors4Advisors


Advisors4Advisors has integrated with Twitter to enable financial advisors to “tweet” A4A content to clients, prospects, and referral sources in an instant.

Advisors4Advisors aggregates investment, industry, and technology news every business day.

Veteran financial reporters Mary Rowland, Bob Casey, and Andrew Gluck aggregate respectively the investment, industry, and tech news advisors need to read by scanning dozens of websites, blogs, and news releases daily. The reading list is emailed as The Daily Digest to members of Advisors4Advisors.

The Twitter aggregation allows you to tweet any of the content to everyone following you on Twitter.

To use the Advisor4Advisors Twitter integration:

1. Log in to Advisors4Advisors
2. From the home page, click on the headline of any article you want to Tweet
3. Click on the Twitter icon to automatically open Twitter and tweet the article

The Advisors4Advisors integration automatically opens a browser with your Twitter account, inserts the headline of the article as a tweet, and creates a shortened bit.ly link to the article. You simply press “Tweet” to send the headline and link to all of your followers.

To try it, register for a free trial at Advisors4Advisors.com.
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4419 Hits

Secure, Encrypted Communications Between Advisory Firms And 401(k) Plan Participants

I was just monitoring one of our employee’s phone calls with a client and came across a great use of AdvisorVault to work with 401(k) plans.

I routinely monitor our help desk and sales calls every day. We use a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone system that enables me to “barge” calls with neither the client nor the staff member knowing I am monitoring the call. It keeps me in touch with what advisors need and whether we are giving good service. All advisory firm owners should have this VOIP system feature. (I posted about this at Advisors4Advisors.com.)

I barged a call just now in which an advisory firm wanted to give AdvisorVault access to a 401(k) plan sponsor. This is a great idea for advisory firms working with 401(k) plans.

Say ABC Advisors is advising XYZ Manufacturing on its 401(k) Plan.

ABC Advisors can give XYZ employees their own client vaults with their 401(k) information.

ABC Advisors can also give XYZ’s HR Department access to certain folders of each XYZ employee’s vault.

That allows XYZ, the plan sponsor, to place documents about the 401(k) plan into each client’s vault, but ABC Advisors can limit XYZ’s HR Department from seeing all of the client’s/employee’s documents.

AdvisorVault enables collaboration with third-party professionals. We always envisioned advisors giving access to a client’s vault to the client’s attorney or accountant. AdvisorVault has very elaborate controls for collaboration with third parties and advisors are telling us it helps them build a referral network of tax and estate planning professionals.

The advisory firm can enable third parties to see a client’s entire vault, just a folder in a vault, or just a single document in a vault. The third parties can be enabled to upload documents and get all the features of AdvisorVault, and the advisory firm that pays us controls the system. Advisors love this.

But we never imagined using the third-party collaboration features to enable advisors to work more efficiently with 401(k) plan sponsors. This is a great idea!

If you are advising a 401(k) plan for a group of doctors, for instance, you can enable the plan sponsor to post tax-related documents, educational articles, required disclosures, plan amendments, and all sort of other required information. And if you hope to turn some of the plan participants into wealth management clients, this is a great way to get to know them.

Please let me know what you think. Are there any caveats or questions we need to consider as advisors start using AdvisorVault to serve documents securely to 401(k) plan participants?
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4525 Hits

What Happens When An MBA Student Researches 30 Investment Advisory Marketing Firms?

MBA student Jonathan Poyer contacted me in late June for help with a research project on investment advisory marketing companies. I vaguely remembered Jonathan contacting me five years earlier when he had an internship at Orion Advisor Services, but don't know him. Advisor Products tries to be transparent and behave nicely, however, so  I directed him to our website and offered to connect him with our marketing and sales department.

A month later, after completing his research, Jonathan contacted me again to thank me. In an email, he told  me how difficult it was to get straightforward answers from marketing companies specializing in serving investment advisors but that  Advisor Products was different.

Because he was indpendent and unbiased, I asked Jonathan to summarize what he learned in doing his research. Here’s what he says.   

This summer, as an MBA intern at Brigham Young University, I chose to work for Gemini Fund Services; a company I worked for previous to business school.  I worked on a great project putting together a business plan for a new entity that Gemini has been looking into.


A major portion of my project this summer was to obtain market research on third party marketing firms in the investment advisory space; especially those that provide marketing services for mutual funds.  I spent over a month working on this project; speaking with over 30 firms as I wanted a comprehensive understanding of the industry.  Since I had been in the business a number of years, I obtained information through contacts at the major custodians.  In addition, I found a number of firms through Google searches, marketing events, and others through references on marketing collateral or websites.  All told, I was able to interview almost 30 different people that focus on assisting investment professionals with their marketing initiatives.  The two major questions that I sought to answer included: what key services do you provide and what is the general pricing for those services. 

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6855 Hits

Get 38 Hours Of CFP® Continuing Education Credit On Advisors4Advisors

You can get 38 hours of CFPâ continuing education credit on Advisors4Advisors, a practice management portal for advisors. And if you sign up for a free six-month membership to A4A, you get it for free!

Simply register for our next webinar and you’ll receive an email with six-month free trial of A4A after the webinar.

Already a member of A4A? Just click on one of the webinar titles below and sign in to A4A to view the session. Watch the session for at least 50 minutes and take a 10-question quiz when it’s over to receive CFP® CE credit.
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3 Hits

Advisor Products Implements Managed Intrusion Detection And Prevention

Advisor Products has implemented a unified threat management system to detect and prevent malicious activities on all of its web servers.

Adoption of the Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) by Advisor Products had been requested by a large financial institution seeking to use AdvisorVault, a secure system that allows financial advisors to share documents with clients and allied professionals and that is integrated with several portfolio management software applications.

Hackers and malicious activities by rogue employees of tech vendors and advisory firms pose a growing risk, as more advisors are utilizing Web-based applications to communicate personal financial information to clients and improve efficiency.

Advisory firms are not only under pressure from cybercrime and insider abuse, but also face increasing compliance demands, as state and federal regulators tighten rules protecting client privacy and on establishing effective and measurable security.

The intrusion detection and prevention system implemented by Advisor Products adds a new layer to the company’s already elaborate security systems. The IDPS service monitors all Advisor Products servers 24/7 to identify malicious activity, log information about suspicious activity, attempt to block these activities, and automatically report them to technicians and engineers on the Advisor Products team. Some of the features include:

  • Enterprise Grade Firewall. A sophisticated enterprise-grade firewall managed by certified security experts.

  • Best In Class Intrusion Prevention. The system is carefully maintained and managed by a world leader in vulnerability and intrusion protection research and used by many of the world’s largest enterprise.

  • Best Practices Management. Change management, incident management and all aspects of the service are monitored for compliance with times-tested management practices.

  • 7x24 Incident Response. The service provider’s engineers monitor and respond to critical security events 7x24, 365 days per year and report critical issues to the Advisor Products tech team immediately.

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4708 Hits

Bug Fix Allows Collaboration On A Single File In AdvisorVault

The bug fix to AdvisorVault that I mentioned in my blog entry on June 29  was made a couple of weeks ago, and I just realized I forgot to write an update about that.

Advisors who use AdvisorVault can now share a single file with an accountant or estate planning lawyer.

While you all along have been able to share a client entire vault or a single folder, the bug had prevented advisors from sharing a single file with an outside professional.  

For financial advisors, being able to share client documents securely with attorneys, accountants, consultants, and other allied professionals is an important feature in AdvisorVault.

It's one of those rare examples where a seemingly small technology feature  provides a big benefit.

Advisors say that collaboration with other professoinals is a natural way of creating a referral network of professionals.

In the course of sharing information about a client in AdvisorVault, allied professionals wind up communicating more efficiently and more frequently. And since secure file-sharing  in AdvisorVault is easy, the feedback I've gotten from advisors is that it's getting used a lot.
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4515 Hits

Quarterly Market Summary Makes Performance Reporting Easier

Quarterly portfolio reporting can be stressful enough for financial advisors — dealing with delivery of the reports electronically or in the mail is a major hassle — but the task is even more difficult when you must write a market commentary to accompany your quarterly client reports.



Next time you need a quarterly market update to send with your portfolio reports to clients, take a
free trial of Quarterly Market Summary from Advisor Products.



Quarterly Portfolio Reporting

Quarterly portfolio reporting is a major hassle for RIAs. Printing, collating, and stuffing is time-consuming, and everything must be absolutely perfect.



When quarterly portfolio reporting is further complicated by having to research and write a quarterly commentary, the project becomes downright stressful.



Making matters worse, the trailing 10-year total return on the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index shows an annualized 1.6% loss! Long-term investors have been slammed!



Getting help with writing about what’s happening in the markets makes quarterly portfolio reporting easier.



Quarterly Market Update

There is no substitute for your own words in explaining portfolio performance to your clients. So Quarterly Market Summary enables you to personalize your message to your clients.



Most of the content you need to write to accompany your performance reports is comprised of facts about the economy and markets. Quarterly Market Summary provides you with that text. You simply personalize it.



Outsource To Financial Writers

Why reinvent the wheel? Is it smart to spend your time or assign staff to compile statistics summarizing performance of stocks, bonds, industries, interest rates, foreign markets, GDP, inflation, employment, currencies, and other key data? Are you professional writers? Will you proofread everything?



Quarterly Market Summary is written by a seasoned financial journalist. A financial editor with 30 years of experience re-works it. It’s then proofread by yet another financial writer and sent for review to several financial advisors.



Quarterly Market Summary is delivered in a Microsoft Word document so that you can rewrite and repurpose it easily.



Quarterly Market Summary Free Trial

To take advantage of our no risk, free trial offer,
register with Advisor Products. Registration also gives you access to replays of our educational webinars and our MarketingSmart e-newsletter for advisors.



If you are already registered with Advisor Products,
log in here for your free trial of Quarterly Market Summary.



To see a sample and get more information about Quarterly Market Summary, visit
our site.








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4580 Hits

Bug Fix Coming For Collaboration With Outside Professionals In AdvisorVault


A fix is on the way for a bug in AdvisorVault that will enable advisors to share a single file with an allied professional.



AdvisorVault was developed principally to enable financial advisors to securely store files they want to share with clients, but it also enables advisors to collaborate with professionals outside your firm--CPAs, attorneys, geriatric care managers, personal coaches, business consultants and other professionals with which clients work.



You can enable an allied professional to have permission to view and upload a client's entire vault or just a single folder in a client's vault. You can also enable an allied professional to access his or her own vault and only see what you post in that vault. These collaboration features are working fine.



However, we have discovered a bug in the app that is preventing advisors from sharing a single file in a vault. We expect that bug to be fixed in the next upgrade release at the end of July.



We've been releasing upgrades and bug fixes monthly and just last week issued the latest release. That last release cleaned up a problem with moving an advisor's clients.



Now, if an advisor leaves your firm or if you want to switch the advisor for a client, it works smoothly.



We also fixed sporadic problems with creating a folder structure for firms using our online reporting solution for Advent Axys and Schwab PortfolioCenter.



While these are minor bugs, we know they are annoying and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Continue reading
  5238 Hits
5238 Hits

Just Got This Angry Email Message Firing My Company

“Please cancel my subscription immediately,” said the email message. “I am requesting a one-month refund due to the very poor service that I received. In fact, I sent emails and phone messages with no response and a one week delayed response to a phone call message that I sent.”



Advisor Products is not perfect. We can always do better. But this was over the top! What did we do?



Even though it was 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, I had to get to the bottom of this right away.



I checked our CRM and could find no notes about her calls this past week or anything about her company.



I called her right away and left a voicemail message.



“Whatever we did, I'm sorry,” I said on the voicemail. “I can’t find any record about this project we’re doing for you. So please call me back and let me know what happened.”



She called back thirty-minutes later.



“I’m sorry,” she said, “You don’t host my website. It’s a competitor of yours but I called you back because you sounded upset about my complaint.”



I thanked her for calling back and couldn’t resist:



“You can see the difference between us and our competitors," I said. "On a Friday night at 8 p.m., you have the owner of the company calling you back to respond to you.”



Advisor Products service is good. We're not perfect, but we return your calls promptly--almost always the same day that you call us.



We're the No. 1 choice for financial advisor websites and secure client communications that is integrated with your CRM, portfolio management and financial planning software.










  4864 Hits
4864 Hits

Content Management System Passwords Expired


To improve security, Advisor Products today killed passwords advisors use to access our content management system.



The next time your firm logs in, you'll be required to create a new password.



The new password requires a combination upper and lower case letters, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters. Such passwords are harder to remember, but they’re also harder to hack.



This change was not made in response to any incident. It is one of numerous new policies we have implemented company-wide.



When you log in, please read the new password requirements carefully. They’re just a few lines but you need to read them to understand what to do.



Here’s a post I wrote about
creating strong passwords and another post about the password app I use. Chrome users may also want to consider LastPass.



Please call our help desk if you have any problems at (888) 274-5755.



We apologize for any inconvenience.







  4550 Hits
4550 Hits

Why Do Many Advisors Fear Niches?


Advisors are poor marketers in general, and one of the silliest things they do is fear targeting a niche. What are you thinking?



If I went into the website business in 1996 by making websites for any schnook, I would not have been able to compete with Intuit, Google, WordPress, and other giant technology companies aiming for a mass clientele. By specializing in advisors, I’m able to add content and technology tools that my niche group needs and values. I can provide solutions that the giants cannot afford to create because serving my niche is too much work for them.



To me, the case for specializing is so easy to see, and I just can’t understand why advisors have so much trouble with it. Yet over the years, advisors’ fear of niches has come up again and again.



Once, and I promise this is true, I was working with an advisor on the phone, reviewing marketing copy I had written that would move him into a niche. He yelled at me. “I don’t want to be different! I just want to sound like everyone else!”



Another time, I was on a conference call with a very high-powered firm whose chief investment officer told me in front of the firm’s executive leadership that he didn’t want to describe his process in detail to me. “You know a lot about the investment business and that’s why we hired you!” he barked. ”We do what everyone else does. Just write about that.”



Just this past Friday, at a webinar entitled,
Successful Marketing For Advisors, John Anderson, of SEI this past Friday did an excellent job of telling advisors how to market their practices.



Sure enough, during the Q&A period, an advisor chatted in a question raising her fear that marketing to a small niche like divorcees might scare away other potential prospects. Such fear is totally misplaced.



Having marketing copy on your website that emphasizes your niche will gain you clients in the long run, assuming you are good at working with that niche. Here are some reasons why.



Commoditization Of Investment Advice. The Web is relentlessly commoditizing investment advice. Online brokers are better at serving the mass affluent. Segmenting the investor market to differentiate your services can be a source of competitive advantage. Specialized advice will command a premium price and make your clients more loyal.



The Web Favors Niche Marketers. If the keywords used in marketing copy on your website are terms like “financial planning” or fee-only financial advisors,” you stand little chance of gaining high rankings in search engines. However, if your marketing copy contains keywords like “financial advisors serving Indian hotel owners” or “estate planning for shopping center developers,” you have a far better chance of gaining favorable natural search results. If you want to learn more about this topic, see this recent
webinar on Search Engine Optimization conducted by Advisor Products.



Professional Satisfaction. Serving a niche enables you to help people in more meaningful ways. If you are an expert in understanding the wealth management needs of layers, doctors, owners of bakeries, car dealers or other small business, or some other market segment, you will find yourself going far deeper into their financial lives and advising them on business issues as well as personal finance. Your advice becomes more meaningful because it is so targeted. The professional satisfaction you’ll gain can make your job more satisfying.



If you need some help thinking about a niche, start by considering whether the answer is obvious.



Three weeks ago, I was speaking with an advisor I’ve known for many years. When I asked him to tell me about his firm, he never mentioned that he had a niche. In an elevator speech that sounded a lot like many other wealth management firms, he told me he uses DFA Funds and provides financial planning.



He is from India, and I felt I was treading on delicate ground, but I asked him if he targeted Indian immigrants. That’s when he told me that 60% of his clients are doctors of Indian descent.



This advisor is not marketing to Indian doctors currently and did not realize that he can probably get a lot more Indian doctors as clients by sharing the specialized knowledge he has gained by working with this niche.



Many Indian doctors are first-generation Americans or emigrated here from India. They have common experiences and financial issues. For instance, they almost all had little money during their residency and are tempted to spend crazily when they start making money. Many of them have parents and siblings still living in India that they need to assist financially. Many accumulate great wealth and fear raising spoiled kids. The expertise of this advisor in dealing with financial issues of Indian doctors is valuable.



To me, creating marketing materials for this niche is a no brainer. Yet this advisor and others like, I suspect, don’t realize they already have a niche and can capitalize on it with just a bit of strategic marketing and planning.



To figure out your possible niches, download the market segmentation worksheet we have made available on A4A. In segmenting your clients, you may find some obvious commonalities among them. Are a few of your clients:



  • working for the same local company?

  • working in the same industry?

  • of the same ethnic group?

  • in the same profession?

  • in the same socio-economic group?






In a story that will be published in the upcoming issue of Financial Advisor, I interviewed several firms that only serve doctors or that specialize in doctors. I realize that pointing to a few firms won’t convince you. But it is such a clear example of how niche marketing works. When it’s released on the Web around June 1, please take a look at that story.



Though I hope I am helping you, maybe I am missing something. Maybe there’s a good reason why advisors avoid niches. If so, please let me know by posting a comment.



And if you have had success in working on a niche market, please also post a comment and share your ideas.










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4536 Hits

Our Commitment To Do What's Best For You


Some advisory firms feel they must work face-to-face with a local designer to build their website instead of working over the phone with an Advisor Products project manager. They feel that their branding is too important to be managed by Advisor Products.



I don't agree. Our designers do a great job. But who am I to argue?



So we price our services so you can use a local graphic designer and still use Advisor Products for hosting. Hosting is where we add the most value.



When we host your site, you get our content management system, BackOffice. That’s built specifically for advisory firms and has oodles of features just for advisors. Compliance review workflow, website archiving, pre-formatted pages created specifically for advisors that you can easily add to your site, a secure client vault system, and integration with 16 apps used in advisor practices that convert data in your internal systems into client communications. Plus, we provide 10 or 15 wealth management articles monthly to aupdate your site and now we’ve started offering videos on personal finance topics.



Candidly, many advisors don’t value publishing wealth management content on their website. But your clients are getting bombarded with financial information from so many sources. Why forfeit the opportunity to be their trusted source of financial ideas?



Providing clients with authoritative educational information on a broad range of personal finance topics—even if you don’t agree with every word in every article we write—promotes meaningful conversation with clients. Moreover, with technology enabling you to select every article and video that appears on your website or e-newsletter, you control the content that your firm distributes. You can even customize the content for each individual cleint's personal interests!

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4963 Hits

Mysteries Of Search Engine Optimization Revealed

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a mysterious thing. There’s technical mumbo to know and it seems really powerful.



So I was really proud earlier this week when our Operations Director, Jim Voss, in a 45-minute presentation, made SEO pretty simple for advisors to understand and execute.



The point of the webinar was to show you how you can use the Advisor Products content management system, BackOffice, to help optimize your website for search engines. But the webinar contains so much information about SEO basics that the self-promotional part of the session is only incidental.



What makes me so happy is that this webinar demonstrates that Advisor Products is really trying to do the right thing. We’re not trying to hide behind technical complexity and charge you for SEO. We’re creating realistic expectations about SEO, educating you about it, and giving you the tools to do it yourself. (Of course, you can hire us to help you if you need it.)



Attendees on average rated this webinar with four out of five stars. Among the many favorable comments we received from attendees was this:



“Need to see it twice a year, every year. Best damn webinar you've ever done. We advisors forget this stuff. We don't work on our sites but once a year or so. Keep doing this one, we need it more than we can tell you.”



Check out the webinar.




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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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