Financial advisers who are sheltering in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can no longer turn to traditional methods for recruiting clients, such as attending a local chamber of commerce event or an alumni reception.
Instead, they’re concentrating on finding new prospects by enhancing their online profiles. For Tony Matheson, founder of Matheson Financial Partners, that means posting more content, tweaking his website for search engine optimization and increasing his social media activity.
“I have repurposed that [in-person] time slot to developing my online presence,” Matheson said.
Word-of-mouth referrals are still occurring during the coronavirus outbreak. But financial advisers can no longer close the deal with a one-on-one conversation in their offices. Instead, they have to turn to Zoom meetings or other forms of virtual interaction.
“Now I have to convince them to hire me without face-to-face contact,” Jack Waymire, a consultant at Paladin Digital Marketing, said of the situation advisers find themselves in. “A lot of advisers are a lot less comfortable with virtual marketing. Very few are good at it because they’re relied on that face-to-face relationship.”
But as in-person contact becomes a relic at least temporarily, advisers are attempting to adjust.
Megan Kopka, owner of Kopka Financial, has begun hosting networking meetings on Zoom. She launched a series that focuses on women and wealth. She uses the sessions to explain key concepts of financial planning and financial wellness.
“Zoom has been the avenue for me to reach out and show myself as an educator and relate to people without using industry jargon,” Kopka said.
Laurie Allen, owner of LA Wealth Management, has been strengthening her website and making herself easy to find on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp. But she didn’t start from scratch.
“It helps if you had a strong online presence” before the pandemic hit, Allen said.
During a time of extreme disruption and robust reaction, such as the massive government stimulus efforts, advisers can explain what those mean for personal finance. The market for such guidance is growing and provides a way to attract new clients for advisers putting themselves out on social media.
“Being able to answer these questions quickly in volatile market conditions results in a happier [investor] who is willing to sign on with you,” said Chris Struckhoff, founder of Lionheart Capital Management.
The key is to focus on how to provide assistance at such a challenging time, whether that’s through a blog post or an appearance onor in other media, said Kyle Mast, owner of Clarity Financial.
“Try not to sell yourself at any time, but especially in this time,” Mast said. “Just reach out to help, and the business will come.”
That’s the approach that Jake Northrup, founder of Experience Your Wealth, is taking when he anticipates questions and responds on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social outlets.
“They’ll remember this person really helped me and added value in this time,” Northrup said. “That will pay off in the future. Put good content out, and the business will take care of itself.”
Once someone has heard an adviser on a podcast or read her social media post, it’s important to direct them back to a website where “they can see the entire picture of what you’re doing,” Mast said.
The information that prospective clients find on your website becomes the key to closing the deal with them, according to Waymire. An adviser’s credentials, business practices and ethics have to be clear because they can’t be conveyed in a sit-down conversation.
“The bottom line is that [websites] have to be extremely good at delivering information clients want to see,” Waymire said. “There is no [in-person] close. What you have to do is convince that prospective client to hire you based on facts.”
Advisers report they have been signing up clients virtually throughout the pandemic.
“It didn’t seem to faze people that they haven’t met me in person,”Allen said.