As you may remember, last year I urged you to plant your flag and establish your claim as a fiduciary in the eyes of the investing public. Thanks to the Fifth Circuit, you have another window of opportunity to stake out your claim again. But you have to act now.

No one knows who will ultimately win the legal battle over the fiduciary rule. But I do know that over the past week, almost every investor has been reading about it. And they’ve all watched certain corners of the financial industry jump up and down to celebrate the decision. A decision that actually says asking advisors to act in their clients’ best interest is—wait for it—"unreasonable. "

Let that sink in. That’s literally the court’s own word; you can look it up. It’s "unreasonable" to put a client’s interests ahead of your own.

Well, not for you. It’s what you do every day. I’ve watched you and your peers work tirelessly to do what’s right for your clients, without a thought to any conflicts of interest. As a fiduciary, you’re different. Better. And you like it that way.

It’s time to let them know.

Plant your fiduciary flag while this story is still top of mind. Slap a banner on your home page calling yourself a fiduciary. Send out a short email to clients, prospects, and COIs telling them what this story means. Whip up a quick explainer you can put on your website or send to the press. Throw up a blog post.

But do it quickly. You don’t need to write a forty-page treatise or get fifty people to run a fine-tooth comb over every word you post. It’s more important to get on top of the story now, while it’s fresh, and fill in the details as people ask questions. To help you out, we’ve created a sample high-resolution Fiduciary Seal that you are free to use on your website. Yes, it can be that simple.

The territory is wide open in front of you. Claim it—today.

Remember The Sixth Sense, where (spoiler alert) Bruce Willis goes through the whole movie not realizing he’s dead? Did you ever see The Others, that Nicole Kidman movie where she thinks her house is haunted, (more spoilers) only to find out that she’s actually the ghost?

This trope gets used a lot, from Beetlejuice to the Anne Hathaway plane crash movie to Lost. It’s popular because it’s so creepy. We have a real, instinctive fear of suddenly discovering that the normal, everyday life we know is just an illusion. That you think you’re interacting with the world, but, in reality, nobody can even see you.

That’s why the word “ghost” has picked up a slang definition as somebody with no online presence (among other meanings.) Many people don’t trust ghosts. If they can’t find you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Snapchat, they start to wonder what’s the matter with you.

Continue Reading…

Like most people with a social media account, my feed is oversaturated with random acts of content – written pieces without any strategy or value – and so I’ve become very selective about what I allow onto my reading list. There was one headline, however, that I think is worth discussing: Is Indianapolis Cool Enough for Amazon?

This piece in the New York Times defends the Midwestern city as a headquarters choice for the media and distribution giant. As someone that works in content, this immediately spoke to me because the word “cool” has layers of meaning. Cool factor can mean how Instagram-worthy something is, or how much it appeals to the Millenial audience (both major issues in current-day marketing).

But in this case, I took this article as Indianapolis’ attempt at a rebrand of the city. They are trying to change public perception.

Continue Reading…

On February 23, 2017—a year ago, almost to the day—I wrote a post urging advisors to get ready for an upcoming stock market correction. Were you ready for what happened last week? Did you have a crisis communications plan in place? Did your clients all receive a reassuring call or email? Was everyone in the firm on the same page about your message, or did you have trouble reaching consensus? How long did it take to get something out? A day? A week?

If you had a plan and executed it flawlessly, congratulations. You really took advantage of the situation to cement your relationships with your clients and distinguish yourself from your peers. But if not, don’t miss out on the chance to do better next time—and as we know, there will always be a next time. Yes, it probably feels like buying extra insurance after something gets stolen, but better late than never.

Click on the button below to read the entire post from last year. It includes practical steps that you can take right now to put your crisis communication plan in place.

The best-performing blogs of the year

We are solidly into 2018, and with any luck, you’re a little wiser than you were in 2017. Or at least, by now you should have analyzed what went well for your business and what didn’t. As marketers, we’re always in Analysis and Optimization Mode, but the end of Q4 is always exciting because then you can start to see trends.

Did you get goosebumps? Because I just did.

You built the plan in Q1 and though you’ve seen results in your short-term conversions, you’re starting to understand better what that means for your business overall. Like everything in marketing, success is only as good as the goals you set. And it’s what you can garner from the previous year that can set you in a new direction right now.

So, when it came time to plan our content calendar for 2018, we weren’t just looking at who saw what blog on the day that we posted it. We were looking for trends, behaviors, and data that can help us anticipate the types of content that our readers want to see.

Without further ado, these are the blogs you enjoyed the most (and how we can tell).

Continue Reading…

Something odd is going on. Why are partners at established wealth management sounding so alarmed about their Millennial advisors? Why are they pulling me aside to complain that their young associates aren’t bringing in enough business?

It’s happening all over the place—not at every single firm, but frequently enough to sound an alarm. These are good firms, too, run by partners smart enough to invest in the future. They did everything right: recruited young talent, developed new training platforms, even hired consultants to develop new compensation and incentive plans. For the most part, their efforts paid off. These young advisors have the technical side down cold, and they know how to deliver impeccable service. The only problem is, they just aren’t generating leads.

Continue Reading…

For a job that inherently deals with constant change, from fluctuating markets to the unpredictable life events, the role of a financial advisor is one that is often steeped in tradition.

Tradition is outdated.

As in nearly all other aspects of life, technology has changed the way that clients and potential leads interact with businesses. While many financial advisors have built their business on networking within established social circles, or through client referrals, that type of organic growth is swiftly falling by the wayside of taxi cabs and payphones: it’s becoming archaic.

Before you counter with, “But that rapport is why my clients have stuck around for 35 years!” I want to make clear that relationships are still very much central to being a successful advisor. But it is much more common for a prospect to have Googled you and taken a deep look at your website before ever requesting that first meeting. The prospect is in control of the initial relationship, and many advisors are having difficulty adjusting.

That’s where PR and marketing come in.

Continue Reading…

In my final post on annual marketing planning, I want to touch on two topics that always seem to generate a lot of confusion. How should you define your marketing goals? And how do you set your marketing budget?

First up: goals. I’d like to see advisors go back to their marketing goals and take another crack at writing them. I think if you push harder, you can come up with better ideas that stretch your business further than you think possible. You just have to define your goals differently.

Continue Reading…

As I mentioned last time, most advisors start their annual marketing planning meeting by reviewing their progress against the firm’s business plan.

I can’t think of a worse place to start.

Never Mix Business (Plans) With Pleasure

Obviously, you need to benchmark yourself. Figure out if you’re hitting your targets. Understand whether you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely.

But please don’t make the first item on your planning meeting agenda a postmortem. It will put you in a terrible mindset for brainstorming. You should be facing the future with energy, enthusiasm and an open mind. Instead, your head will be crammed with stale ideas. You’ll feel sad about the goals you missed and may even hear a few little voices murmuring, “That won’t work,” “Can’t do,” and my favorite, “We already tried it once.” You’re also going to wear yourself out talking about revenue goals and office space and technology upgrades. By the time you get to marketing, you’ll be exhausted.

Continue Reading…

Last time, I told you about the crazy way we run annual planning meetings at FiComm. Now I want you to understand the method behind our madness.

I’ve broken down some of the basic principles behind our planning approach into a few simple, easy-to-follow ideas. Try implementing some of these practical tips, and see if they can help you create a marketing plan that makes a bigger impact on your business than the plan you wrote last year.

Continue Reading…