The value the internet can bring to advisers' businesses

By Janice Roberts

Philip Calvert

By Philip Calvert, International Social Media Expert

It happens a couple of times a year.
The email comes in and they always say the same thing:
“I’m sorry Philip, but I won’t be joining your technology revolution. My clients aren’t interested in the internet and that’s fine by me.”
“Most of my clients are in their sixties, seventies and eighties, and they just don’t care about the internet.”
“Many of my clients are business owners in their forties, so they haven’t got time for the internet.”
Yes, there is still a hardcore group of financial advisers who firmly believe that the internet and social media have no role to play in a modern financial planning practice. And it wasn’t all that long ago that a good 20% of IFAs in the UK still didn’t have a website.


Answers ranged from “We haven’t got around to it yet” to “We don’t need a website – we get all our new clients through personal referrals.”

It’s true; most financial advisers around the world have traditionally relied on referrals as their main source of new prospects.

And that’s great, because it proves that you are adding sufficient value to your clients that they feel comfortable recommending you.

But times are changing.

In my work with financial planning professionals, over the last five years I’ve seen a noticeable increase in advisers considering new ways to attract leads. In fact, there are very few ‘new’ ways – for example seminars, workshops and client events are often touted as the next big thing. Yet many of the most successful financial advisers around the world have been using this approach for decades – and long before the advent of the internet.

Social Media is often held up as the shiny new thing to attract leads, when most advisers, if they’re honest, will confirm that a few tweets, blogs and posts here and there will rarely provide a quality source of new enquiries.

Facebook advertising could be classed as a genuinely new idea amongst financial planners – but again they are late to the party.

But generating new leads isn’t the main problem.
The problem here is not how advisers generate new leads, but how they handle the ones they’re already getting.  Most advisers around the world are getting plenty of leads – they just can’t see them even though they are right under their noses…

When I speak to groups of financial advisers in consultancy and training sessions, I always ask “who here has looked at their website statistics today?” It’s rare to see more than 5% of hands being raised when I ask this, and it’s much the same when I ask who has looked at their stats “this week” or “this month”. Most advisers admit to rarely or ever looking at their website stats.

It’s great that, after a slow start, advisers around the world are starting to embrace the value that the internet can bring to their businesses – but there are still many hygiene factors that they need to get right. And regularly looking at your website statistics is one of them. It’s important to say that you don’t need to be an ‘internet geek’ to do this. Stats provided in a variety of packages (e.g. Google Analytics) contain a lot of information, but you only need to know the basics to get startling insights into how your business looks online.

For example:
Number of visitors (over various periods)
What pages they visited
How long they stayed on your site
What search phrases lead them to your site
Which other sites or social media tools lead them to your site
Location of your site visitors
What devices they used to visit your site
Bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who left after viewing just one page)

These are just the basics, but most financial advisers are quite surprised when they see these figures broken down as they can be highly revealing.

Once we know these figures, we can start to form a view on whether our site is actually doing its job. The next most obvious number we need to have is how many site visitors go on to make contact – either by phone, email or other means. Again, most financial advisers do not have a handle on this yet.
So that brings up the question as to whether financial advisers have thought through why they have a website at all…

Most see that having a website is just something they need to do. They unveil their shiny new site to the world, sit back and wait for something to happen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Your website is an asset of your business. And just like any other asset of your business, there needs to be a reason why you have it and you must look after it.

The problem is, the world has changed.

Ten years ago, we used to say to financial advisers:
“If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist.”
Today we might add:
“If you’re not on Social Media, you don’t exist.”

Of course, it’s never as simple as that, but you get my drift. What’s more important though, is that today’s consumers have changed. In ‘the old days’, people used Google and the internet like a telephone directory. You knew what you wanted and went online to find it. Then, if you liked what you saw, you contacted the product or service provider to learn more and then make a purchase.

Today, consumers know what they want; they use the internet to research it and learn about it for themselves before making contact with anyone. And if they can’t find what they want from your website, then they’ll move on.

The days when a financial adviser’s website can be little more than an online brochure are disappearing FAST. But that’s exactly what most appear to be; an online brochure with a salesperson handing out leaflets. That’s no longer what consumers want. And it’s certainly not what they value.

Indeed, there are millions of consumers out there who are looking for information on personal finance that is relevant to their personal situation – but who don’t (yet) want to contact an adviser. They don’t want to visit you in your office and they don’t want you coming to their home.

These people want to go down the ‘DIY’ route as far as they can before even contemplating contacting, let alone meeting an adviser. Yet most advisers’ websites do little, if anything to meet the needs of these ‘new model consumers’.

True, you might be thinking “I don’t want these types of clients”, and that’s fine – but in the process, you are putting off many of the clients that you DO want because your website is doing little to engage them and add value.

The fact that you don’t know how many people are visiting your website, means you are very likely to be missing out on high quality new leads from exactly the clients that you want. AND, you’re missing out on a massive new market – people who want, and who are willing to pay for your expertise in new formats. Formats that suit them, such as digital information products, home study courses, eBooks and webinars to name just a few.

Yes, even your very best potential prospects want more from your website. They do NOT want just an online brochure, which unfortunately is what most financial advisers around the world are providing.
The good news is that this issue can easily be rectified, when you focus your attention on providing value that engages with your website visitors, and which seeks to build a relationship with them over time.


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