New client acquisition is an essential task for any financial professional looking to grow their business. But financial advisors often… Read More
Building a Personal Brand: 4 Tips from Financial Planners
• Valerie Rivera • August 19, 2022
If you haven’t paid much attention to your personal brand lately, it’s time to change that. A 2022 study showed that 74 percent of Americans are more likely to trust someone with an established personal brand.1 That includes financial advisors, lawyers, bankers, and insurance agents.
There are more than 200,000 financial advisors in the U.S.—nearly 92,000 with CFP® certification—and they are increasingly prospecting beyond their local geography, according to a recent Broadridge survey.2 That means the time is now to stand out by communicating your value in an intentional way, through channels that allow you to reach more people.
How Planners Find Success
Social media will be an important part of your personal brand. Successful advisors are tapping into four social media platforms on average, according to the 2021 Putnam Social Advisor Survey.3 These successful advisors report that they can attribute $1.9 million in assets under management to their social media activities.
How you communicate your lineup of services also plays a significant part in building your brand. In our research, we found that offering holistic planning is highly correlated with advisor success.
An unsettling 68 percent of advisors experience barriers to marketing their financial planning services.4 For most, finding effective marketing tactics and the time to implement them are the most significant hurdles.
Fortunately, there are many successful financial planners who excel at personal branding. We’ve gathered the best advice from influential planners that can help you stand apart.
1. Embrace Your Story
“The most important thing is finding your voice, finding your story. … I realized people—clients—connected with me because of my story.” — Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®, RICP®
As the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, Cheng has blazed a trail for holistic financial planners by embracing what makes her stand out. In a podcast episode with the Financial Planning Association, she explained that starting her career as an advisor with two young children was challenging. She faced skepticism because she didn’t fit the prototype. However, she didn’t let that bother her. She instead found that sharing her life experiences drew people to her and created common ground. A regular speaker, blogger, and podcast host, Cheng was recently named to the 2022 Investopedia Top Financial Advisors list.
To apply this in your life, reflect on experiences that have shaped you and that communicate your greatest strengths and passions. Draw from these stories when writing your bio for your website or social media profile. Find ways to make your core values visible to draw like-minded people to your practice.
2. Keep Content Simple and Repeatable
“I would say to people who are trying to start a personal brand, you might find it’s easier to podcast. You might find it’s easier to shoot YouTube videos. I started shooting YouTube videos on my phone, and it’s incredible. I get a question from a client, I turn off my monitor, I put my iPhone up and I hit record and I answer their question.” — Peter Lazaroff, CFA, CFP®
As co-chief investment officer at Plancorp, Lazaroff is known for his ability to translate complex financial topics into language that’s easy to understand. A speaker, podcast host, and author, he shared his journey in personal branding with Michael Kitces’ Nerd’s Eye View blog. He details how he faced pushback from compliance officers when he initially began creating content for clients. He also offered insight into navigating the fine line between a personal brand and the firm’s brand.
Eventually, his firm embraced allowing advisors to develop personal brands and even came to view it as an employee perk. With the firm’s backing, he now creates content for clients in a much more casual—and authentic—way.
The lesson here is to keep things simple. You may have to experiment until you find what works for you and your firm.
3. Start a Dialog
“PSA for those wanting to build a ‘personal brand’: You can’t just push out content and expect people to follow you. You need to engage, ask questions, and have conversations.” —Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®
A planner on a mission to make money relatable, Storjohann has found her voice as an author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s also co-CEO of Abacus Wealth Partners, a purpose-driven advisory firm that happens to be a certified B Corporation. Her straightforward and engaging manner comes across in every corner of her digital presence, from her LinkedIn profile to her website bio. She is no stranger to creating a successful personal brand and recently revealed on Twitter that she’s not a fan of those who create a one-way experience on social media sites in their quest to build one.
Many of us fall into the trap of broadcasting on a social networking site instead of asking questions or engaging with other people’s content. The takeaway here is to prioritize connection.
4. Be True to Form
“You’re telling people the same thing over and over, just in different ways, to put yourself out there for your branding. And then the consistency between what they’re reading and who they think they’re going to get needs to be the same as what they get when they come in.” — Justin Castelli, CFP®
Castelli is constantly in motion as founder and owner of RLS Wealth Management and co-founder of The Advisor Growth Community. A tireless content creator, he recently shared his insights on personal branding with the Financial Planning Association via podcast. His prolific blogging and podcasting dovetail with his main takeaway—that content can fuel the growth of your business. Though he’s not a fan of the term “personal brand,” he is a believer in publishing content purely to build connections with others. Whether it’s his love of basketball or his enthusiasm for financial planning, Castelli finds a way to weave his passions into every piece of content.
His example shows that building a consistent personal brand means paying attention to the details. Is every photo of you online extremely formal but you show up to client video calls in a polo and jeans? Does the text on your website reflect the topics you cover with clients? Keep in mind that the goal is to create a cohesive experience.
A Closer Look at Your Personal Brand
Armed with these insights, you can get a clearer picture of your digital first impression and compare it with reality. Search for your name in Google to see what results show on the first page. Comb through your LinkedIn profile and see how it stacks up against a competitor in your space. Hopefully, you’ll find information that matches what you want others to notice about you.
If you’d like to dive deeper into brand strategy, check out The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Digital and Social Media Marketing.
1. Brand Builders Group Trends in Personal Branding Study, February 2021, n=1,005.
2. Broadridge Financial Advisor Marketing Survey, July 2021, n=402.
3. Putnam Social Advisor Survey, June 2021, n=252.
4. eMoney Leading with Planning Research, May 2022, Advisors n=360.
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
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