In early 2002, I wrote a 15-page guide called “How to be your own financial adviser”. My aim was to help anyone who read it make better financial decisions.
As well as making the guide available through my firm’s website and to existing clients, I posted hard copies to personal finance journalists on the major national newspapers.
I remember then speaking to Nic Cicutti when he was at the Financial Times.
He was writing a feature on the emotional aspects of money and I provided some thoughts and insights based on what I had learned over the previous 10 years of working with clients.
The following weekend, Cicutti’s front page feature appeared with comments from me, together with my firm’s telephone number and website. We had a deluge of new client enquiries.s.
Having that coverage and the guide also gave our existing clients an easy way to introduce my firm to their friends and family. It generated new enquiries for a good few years.
This story illustrates a number of business truisms all financial planning firms need to remember.
Be proactive: You have to be proactive, not reactive, in letting potential clients know you exist and what you can do for them. Many great financial planning firms are a best-kept secret.
Genuine value: Create something of value that genuinely helps people, whether they use your firm or not. In my case, it was a guide to DIY planning, but for you it might be explaining how to solve the problems of a certain type of client, or life transition.
Existing clients want to help: If you make it super easy for existing clients to introduce potential clients, then they probably will. In my case, our existing clients were keen to send a copy of our guide and the FT article to friends and relatives.
It does not have to cost a lot: My guide took about two whole
days to create but was used for about two years. That is a great return on investment.
Be patient: Sometimes it takes time for an activity to produce results. While the FT exposure gave us an immediate flurry of enquires, the promotion of the guide by our existing clients created the most enquiries over the next few years.
Earn their trust before their business: Given how emotive money is and the abstract nature of much of personal finance, developing trust in the mind of consumers is a real challenge. Being clear, consistent and capable in explaining how you have helped existing clients will help you develop that trust.
That guide and the encounter with the FT all those years ago did great things for my business and I never looked back. I went on to win two FT book publishing deals and become an FT personal finance columnist.
Technology and times have changed but the basic principles remain. What could you do to show the value you create and help your clients sell your services for you?
Jason Butler is an expert in financial wellbeing. You can find him Tweeting @jbthewealthman