The financial advice profession is clearly not for the indecisive. Advisers have many decisions to t...
The financial advice profession is clearly not for the indecisive. Advisers have many decisions to take each and every day. This year has already brought fresh concerns to the forefront meaning that IFAs will face perhaps their biggest ever decision.
They have two broad options. They can remain independent and more prominently offer a fee basis to clients or multi tie to 'best of breed' providers.
Alternatively they can merge with other IFA firms to benefit from economies of scale or sell equity to a product manufacturer. Whatever is decided, the positioning of services offered needs to be promoted with even greater clarity than before.
Common-sense dictates that it is easier for potential clients from the HR director, other senior directors to high net worth individuals to approach firms they've heard of when they know what services they offer and how they are priced.
The primary point of adviser marketing is to attract quality leads, reinforce that the right decision has been made by existing clients, aid recruitment and to comfort shareholders.
But what promotional activity generates quality leads for intermediaries? Undoubtedly referrals, press coverage, seminars and networking can all be effective. But the winners will be those that draw it all together in one co-ordinated marketing strategy with objectives, strategies to achieve them and a time bound plan of activity.
As for marketing collateral, a credentials brochure backed by a website, ranging from a simple presence to an interactive site is a must. To be cost effective, any marketing items and literature need to be relevant for a reasonable period of time.
'Brand audit' sounds like consultancy speak. Put simply it means taking a long hard look at every customer facing item your company uses. For example, does the name of your company and any visuals reflect the way your company was, or the way it is now? A corporate name consisting of three or more surnames can be difficult to remember and spell. The use of lifestyle photography can alienate clients if they feel 'I'm not like them'. Often budget restrictions mean most activity needs to be done in house.
However, although we all think we're experts in advertising and marketing I have yet to meet a quality adviser who can think as imaginatively as a creative professional in a marketing environment. But which supplier or agency should you choose to work with? Smaller agencies compared to larger marketing agencies tend to work quickly, can often be cheaper and offer personal service.
Bigger agencies are able to deliver the big ideas, tend to have a number of people working on each account so if a new pitch or piece of business arrives your contact does move his or her attention elsewhere.
Agencies tend to offer a menu approach from help with strategy, creation of brochures, advertisements, and new media through to print management. The clock only starts ticking when you have agreed a brief and a budget so you have nothing to lose by starting a conversation now.
Kim North, head of technical consultancy Citigate Albert Frank
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