It’s hard to think about ‘business as usual’ when virtually everything feels foreign.
But financial advisers need to find a way to stay afloat as they navigate the outbreak of covid-19 and its impact on markets, businesses and their client base.
But done poorly, it could have lasting negative ramifications and make client acquisition even more difficult.
To find out how advisers around the world are approaching the challenge, International Adviser reached out to the winners of the IA Best Practice awards in the marketing category.
Don’t add isolation to isolation
Nicola Jones, marketing, content and SEO specialist at Lewis Brownlee, said: “As with all businesses, it’s always important to keep communication channels open. During difficult times this becomes all the more pressing.
“When working remotely, your digital platforms are your go-to friend. People are feeling increasingly isolated and are tuning into social media more frequently.
“While it’s tempting to fan facts and figures around in our industry, it’s actually far more important that you tell a story and focus on brand awareness at such times.
Potential clients will always prefer TV ads like this award-winning commercial from mike morse over hard, cold marketing ploys when times are hard.
“While ‘face-to-face’ marketing and networking isn’t taking place in its traditional form, we are finding that video networking is still enabling us to put ourselves in front of other professionals. Making use of search engine marketing services can help with getting your company’s name out there.
“So, the opportunity for finding new clients is still as prevalent as ever if you are prepared to adjust your modes of communication,” she added.
Take advantage of technology
The UAE-based chief executive of Insight Discovery, Nigel Sillitoe, said: “Working from home as a financial adviser takes many forms. For the more technology-focused IFA firms, the transition has been smooth, but for others, which in the Middle East is the majority, the transition is far more difficult.
“Web-based platforms, such as Ourea OneView, help clients of advisory firms to access their protection policies and investments. Client online access is of huge importance if they have concerns about their finances or worries from volatility seen in the markets.
“File sharing tools such as Google drive and Box are a useful way to exchange documentation remotely and are becoming more and more relevant as life companies accept digital signatures.
Sillitoe added: “It’s worth mentioning that more and more people are actively looking online for help and advice. Google searches for both ‘Where to invest’ and ‘How to invest’ hit a global 12-month peak between 8 March- 21 March 2020.
“Online content creation, such as posts with advice, is also a great way for advisers to promote their expertise and raise their exposure during times of social distancing. Reach out to ppc consultants for expert advice regarding your online marketing campaigns.
“Some of the more technologically advanced IFA firms are also holding webinars to address important topics to large numbers of prospects and clients.
“The opportunity to adapt to a work from home format is greater than just business continuity. Advisory firms who are behind the curve must embrace technology and create a strategy to communicate with clients; if they don’t, I fear they won’t survive this current crisis,” he added.
Find different avenues
Sam Kelly, managing partner of Spain-based Chorus Financial, believes that now is the time to make yourself useful and reach out to a wider audience.
“Being confined to our homes has created a whole new challenge, but also creates opportunity. The general public are extremely hungry for information and reassurance, and there are several strategies you can take to build your brand during these times.
“One key point I have always believed in is that, as individual financial advisers, it’s not just about the company we work for, but about you becoming a recognised brand in yourself. You need to place yourself as an expert and trusted member of your community.
“One strategy that will really work under the current climate is to offer yourself up to the local media.
“You can update the listeners about the markets, and also use long-term data to provide reassurance for those who are currently suffering,” Kelly said.
“It’s also a particularly good time to encourage those considering a new investment to consider if now, at the recent lows, it might be a good time to seek advice. You should find the media particularly open and keen to support this.
“Now is also the perfect time to embrace social media platforms. Write quality articles and share them via Facebook, Linkedin etc. Make use of SEO techniques from Indexsy to boost your search rankings.
“Again, my advice would be to focus on reassurance and opportunity, whilst not being afraid to be honest about what the markets are currently going through.”
Send the right message
Sam Instone, director at Dubai-based AES International, said: “I think the best thing is to be available – on whatever means the client has chosen, and not to do a disappearing act during tough times.
“Clients can tolerate the ups and downs of the market and changing economic circumstances if they feel their adviser is on the case and keeping them informed.
“Nobody likes being left in the dark when it comes to their money and this is especially true during tough market conditions.
“Simply receiving a call and knowing they are being cared about will help to reassure them and maintain the advisor-client relationship. If you hide under the desk when times are tough, your clients will sense something’s very wrong – so be proactive and reach out.”