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Lookalike sites failing advisers

Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says IFAs are being poorly served by website builders.

At an Unbiased.co.uk/Money Marketing round table last week, Hall said: “A vast majority of IFAs get several pages that look exactly the same as anybody else’s several pages with the same text and script. It puts me off.

“When we went online, we did it in a particular way and that is to not look or sound like anybody else’s listing on unbiased.co.uk. Saying you are an IFA and have years of experience is not a differentiator. Everybody expects to see that, so what is it that makes you different?”

JP Morgan Asset Management head of UK retail marketing Keith Evins said: “Your website has got to be persuasive so if it looks like everybody else’s you are not going to get anywhere.”

Technology and Technical founder and director Kim North said very few IFAs are marketing-savvy enough to get the differentiation right. She said: “The content of IFAs’ websites needs to contain what their service proposition is for their clients. They need a dominant mem- orable brand.”

IFA Life founder and chief executive Phil Calvert says too many IFA websites look the same but added: “Every IFA has a differentiator. The key differentiator is themselves. People buy people online just as much as they do face to face.”

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. When I need to start getting website advice from an IFA I know I am having problems. Most websites get a few seconds to make an impression so my advice is tell them what you do not “how good you are” and make it easy for them to contact you. Whether a website is good or not depends on the viewer and personally i think having a distinctive style can be as much as a disadvantage as advantage. Oh and by the way getting to top of Google (free listings) does not need thousands of pounds and professional web design

  2. I agree with Tony, this is rubbish, the important thing is that the web site talks to the user, it needs to be informative and thought provoking, most importantly it should show what the viewer should do next. We run sites that get thousands of viewers, enquiries per week and this comes from doing the simple things well, and concentrating on content.

  3. Dennis is quite right. IFA websites should be unique and represent the individual firm.

    You can spot an ‘off the shelf’ IFA website from a mile away, and so can clients. The worst offenders are those who don’t even bother to personalise the ‘about us’ or ‘services’ pages of the standard website from their network or service provider.

    One of the most important factors for getting to the top (or at least onto the first page, nothing else counts) of Google and others is having unique content. This means that stock websites will always fail in this aim because their content is duplicated across hundreds of other sites.

  4. Surely one has to work out what they are aiming to achieve with their web presence (if they even want or need one) before they start spending too much time and money on it.
    If the readers accept that, the reason for such a varying standard of adviser websites is the extreme variety of what each of us is trying to achieve.
    My website is really quite basic as it is mainly so people who hear about me or my firm can just find a little out about us and that is really it at the moment. If I needed or wanted lots of new clients, I’d have to sit down and think seriously about the target market and whether the internet is the way to attract them or educate them.
    I agree with Dennis premise about “what is it that makes you different”, this is just anotehr way of saying “what is your Unique selling point (USP) and applies whether someone even has a website or not. The need for a USP and teh relevant merits of spending time and money promoting it are influenced by the amoutn of competition there is for teh services we offe rand whilst there is competition, there is very little at the client segment I service which is in a lot of cases, competition against the banks (which is no competition) for middle earners and down to some (slightly higher) low earners or those with modest assets, who still need advice and will pay for it.
    Horse for courses………..

  5. As most members of the public will tend to go to an IFA website after hearing about them I dont really think being distinctive matters, or being top of Google, what matters is having a website in the first place. It is after all simply a brochure, unless you intend to compete with Hargreaves!

    There is a lot made these days about online marketing and social networking, most of it is rubbish and useless, and put about by those who benefit from it (Twitter announces advertising from 2010, who is the biggest winner on Twitter!).

    As the vast majority of IFAs work in their local markets being top in Google is not really that important, having a professional website does help though. Most of the “distinctive” hand made IFA websites I come across do more harm than good in my opinion.

    I would therefore conclude that if you can afford it get a decent site designed but if not get a good managed site such as from Goldmine Publishing, either way “dont sweat the small stuff” as most members of the public would not know a template site from a designed one anyway.

  6. Interesting article and comments. Personally, I’m not certain you can say the marketplace is being poorly served just because templated/managed sites bear some similarity in content and presentation.

    In many respects these solutions serve the market very well indeed:- building websites that compliance teams can approve (and quickly); performing website updates on the Advisers behalf for FSA legisation changes, tax year end and budget annoucements; through sensible pricing and extensive feature set the economies of working in one niche, managing many sites allow and; through proactively developing tools that assist IFAs in doing their day job such as online TCF client feedback forms, calculators, newsletters and structured enquiry forms.

    Unique content is important to search engines – I think the point has been made – so IFA Portals allow our clients to pick and mix from our content as well as create their own via a simple interface. Where possible we attempt to personalise any generic content used for our client with precisely the search engines in mind. However, in my view, to focus purely on what search engines think about your content, and how you rank, is to really only focus on client acquisition and ignore opportunities for client servicing which undoubtedly exist if your website has the right featureset.

    Re presentation, I honestly can’t say I’ve heard of a client looking at two IFA Portal websites and being put off by any similarity, though I have heard a few stories from IFAs who’ve ploughed money into bespoke website design, spent hours hand-holding their web designer on matters of FSA rules and compliance, only to still have difficulty getting it approved, resulting in alterations and more time/money spent on it.

  7. I read Martin’s response with interest in that in his words “stock websites will always fail” on getting onto the first page of Google, he is fact very wrong, try typing in to google “ifa wimbledon” and see the first site to appear under the sponsored links-that is a “stock website” not bad for an off the shelf number and that is the case for many such sites.

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