Financial Advisors: How To Build Trust

“Being honest is the best policy” is a familiar saying, but the reality is so few actually practice that in business particularly in the marketing of the business. Messages get exaggerated and become based on what can be, rather than what is. While some predictions into the near future are necessary and part of any business endeavor, it is important to keep communications honest, based on facts and delivered with integrity and transparency.

Transparency builds trust. The most effective marketing can be simply telling the truth instead of some crafty messaging engineered to sell anything to consumers, even if it is not actually beneficial or necessary for them. This becomes all the more relevant when you deal with financial concerns for a client.

Your client comes to you in need of financial advice, management and support. As the financial advisor, it is up to you to provide information to your client that is useful and honest.

To prevent the tide of dishonest marketing prevalent in financial companies that do not adhere to sound practices and promise things that cannot be delivered, the Department of Labor issued the Fiduciary Rule. Learn more about the Department of Labor’s ruling here.

Specifically in terms of the ruling and new standard, the Department of Labor ruled that financial advisors have to put their clients’ best interests before their own profits.

Simply defined, it means telling the whole truth about your product or service and explaining exactly what the consumer will get. This also translates to transparent marketing or telling you the truth about products or services, and clearly explaining what you are providing the consumer, your client.

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Avis Example of Transparent Marketing

In what may be one of the greatest examples of transparent marketing is Avis’ advertising campaign where the headline read “Avis is only No. 2 in rent a cars. So why go with us?”

That headline prompts you to read. It also makes you trust the company that did not hide that it was not the first. Instead of claiming to be the best or as many companies do as “your best solution” or “the top company” or other false advertising that was based onopinion or wished for status, Avis simply stated the facts and then explained what their company had to offer. This experiment in transparent marketing was a hit for the company, proving consumers prefer honesty and a company they can genuinely trust.

The industry where honest marketing is most important by far, is financial services. Choosing a financial advisor is a personal process and requires thought and comparison. When someone chooses to work with you, he or he trusts you to manage their assets properly.

Each time you work with a prospect, who can then become your client, you have to establish trust early on. Open and honest communication is essential whether it is through direct face-to-face meetings, on the phone, via email or other online and print methods.

You must also demonstrate why your company, approach and personal service is different from other companies while sticking to the facts. Transparent marketing should already be present in your daily work as you serve as fiduciary advisor by providing objective financial information and advice. 

As part of your transparent marketing approach, you must also consider all the outlets and methods that clients reach you. For example, let’s take a look at your website. Does it offer clear information about your process, fees, investment approach, clients you have had, why clients should choose you or your USP (unique selling proposition) and background information about the primary personnel.

Honesty will drive prospects to reach out to you because they know what they are going to get. It engenders trust. Prospects may also be checking your company out on social media largely to know who you are.

Social media now offers backstage access in many ways to companies and individuals. By posting what people are doing in themoment without filters or editing, you can share what you are up to and also offer a behind the scenes look into your life. Examples include showing your office, your team at an event and even your family if inclined. Sharing personal details to your bio also makes you more personable and someone clients can relate to. 

Also regular communication is important. Far too often clients complain that they do not hear from their financial advisors enough during the year and only when the market is up. The reality is that your clients want to hear from you when the market is rocky or down and they need reassurance and support.

You can maintain strong positive relationships by connecting with your clients 12 to 18 times a year. This does not have to be hard. Simply writing an email can be sufficient. You can share market commentary or holiday greetings or offer invitations to events.

You may also consider having a monthly newsletter with relevant financial information, updates about events and greetings. Stay top of mind with your clients. Encourage upselling and more referrals.

Transparent marketing is not always easy but can attract good prospects and builds respect among your clients, partners, colleagues and within your industry. It will help grow your reputation as trustworthy and reliable, and thereby, grow your business.