ndependent financial advisors (IFAs) are working in an incredibly competitive space, and finding ways to stand out from the sea of so-called ‘gurus’ is becoming increasingly difficult. In recent years, much has been said of the importance of building a watertight personal image in order to win more business. In this post, we’re going to explore the benefits of personal branding for financial advisors, and discuss actionable steps that IFAs can take to better establish themselves as a knowledgeable, trustworthy point of contact within their sector – and someone that their clients can’t wait to work with.
What is personal branding?
In essence, good personal branding is knowing exactly where your strengths lie, then playing on them to enhance your business opportunities.
You may be bursting with qualifications, and on paper, you might look like the best in the business. But why should your clients choose you over your rivals? What have you got that simply cannot be found elsewhere?
Your answers to these questions will form the foundations of your own personal brand – your unique corporate personality, if you like.
Why is creating a personal brand important for independent financial advisors?
It’s easy to think of an IFA as a logical, analytical individual who spends a lot of their time crunching numbers for clients. But in fact, your role goes well beyond simply churning out soulless tax plans and pension strategies.
Your work is incredibly impactful. Ultimately, you’re responsible for your clients’ financial success; you’re helping them live their best lives, safe in the knowledge that their investments are working hard for them behind the scenes.You’ll often become their confidant; someone they can turn to when they need solid advice, on and off the record. So when an individual is hunting for a financial advisor, they’re not just looking for the person who can make them the most money. They want to find someone who can prove they have the expert skills to deliver something special, and they want to work with someone who shares their ethos, appreciates their values, and who sets them at ease.
It’s true that committing to your personal brand is committing to your own development. But it’s especially important because it’s a tried-and-tested means of attracting the kinds of clients you actually want, and who actually want you.
Finding your unique professional self
If you’re keen to start fleshing out your personal brand, the first question you need to ask yourself is this: what sets you apart from other IFAs? Perhaps you specialise in a particular field. Maybe you’re willing to be flexible with your clients by visiting them in their own homes, or out of traditional working hours. You could even differentiate yourself by considering how your pricing structure compares with those of other advisors.
Once you have established your unique selling proposition (USP), you need to establish why it is that your clients need your particular skills or experience. Are you dealing with a particularly tricky aspect of their finances? Are the types of clients you’re after looking for someone who’s unrelentingly professional, or will they respond better to anIFA who has a friendlier, more down to earth approach?
By now, you should have a clear idea of what you can offer your growing market base. The next step is to start communicating your ideas and expertise to the right communities.
How to develop your professional persona
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a master salesman to enhance your personal profile.
Effectively marketing yourself to the masses involves confidence, creativity, and a small smattering of marketing know-how.
Also, you need to remember that personal branding isn’t something that can be achieved in a day. It’s all about consistency; you need to dedicate time to crafting a stronger professional presence. Our tip is to spend just an hour a day doing or creating something that will add to your corporate image (in a positive way, of course!).
Here are a few examples of quick and easy ways you can work on your personal brand in-between your appointments.
Start a blog – and keep it up!
Writing about hot industry topics on your own platform will help you gain recognition, and it’ll also help you explore your corporate voice. You could even throw in a few more ‘relaxed’ posts for good measure – it’s a great way to add personality to your personal brand.
Stay active on social media
Setup corporate accounts on the major social platforms that are likely to be home to your target audience, and spend time posting thoughts and resources that will educate, inform and entertain potential clients. Twitter is a great place to start, and it’s worth setting up a profile on Google My Business if you want to boost your profile in local search.
Own your LinkedIn presence
LinkedIn is still a hotbed of activity for B2B professionals, so it makes sense to work it to your advantage. Comment on other people’s posts, add unique articles to your feed and make sure your profile is well-written and up to date.
Offer your thoughts and opinions to the media
Reach out to local and national publications and offer yourself as a point of contact if they should ever need an IFA to comment on new legislation or industry developments. Before long, you could find yourself in the newspaper or attending a radio interview and being cited as an ‘expert’ in your field.
Network, network, network!
When it comes to personal branding, crafting a great digital presence is vital – but meeting up with other like-minded business people face-to-face is just as crucial to your success. Try out a few different networking groups in your area to get comfortable with ‘selling’ your services (and yourself!).
Any financial advisor who wants to improve their reputation and widen their client base simply must focus some attention on developing their personal brand. It’s all about identifying your strengths and assets, then using a blend of different channels to communicate them to your ideal clients!
Written by Ben Stanbury