Why & How Prospects Choose Financial Advisors 2.0

Why & How Prospects Choose Financial Advisors 2.0

Insights into How Prospects Choose Financial Advisors

Published April 24, 2019

5 Insights from Brad Shepard, Head of Advisor Innovation at WisdomTree, PAG conference session

The financial advisory business is going through rapid change. Acquiring new customers and assets has become more challenging than ever before. At our recent March conference, Brad Shepard, Head of Advisor Innovation at WisdomTree, challenged advisors to truly think about the customer acquisition process differently and provided tangible next steps to enhance their online presence.

The research was from a partnership with Georgia Tech with over 5000 high net worth prospects. The process includes both qualitative, quantitative, and biometric research.

Insight#1: Event triggers are what lead to a prospect considering a financial advisor

The research identified 27 key life event triggers that can lead to a prospect hiring or changing financial advisors, how prospects discover their options, how prospects evaluate those options, and finally, selection of an advisor for that critical first meeting.

Insight#2: Prospects make really important decisions based on limited data sets every day.

When a prospect goes to your firm website or LinkedIn profile, it takes about 11 seconds to decide if they’re going to look at you more deeply. Eight seconds was on the photo, and three seconds on the words. Brad recommended that your website and LinkedIn profile speaks to at least 2-3 of your prospect’s event triggers.

Insight#3: Referrals continue to be the top lead source, but online search is rapidly growing.

After the initial trigger event occurs, the research showed 66% of the time, prospects went to their referral network and 34% of the time, they started the search cold for an advisor. Brad pointed out that search cold had grown 10% over the time of the study.

The research went on to show how prospects on an average get 2.6 referrals – going to somebody in their family, their attorney, or to a friend. Between 65% and 85% of the time after a referral, the prospect went in a search engine, largely Google search, and typed in the first name, last name and firm name of the advisor, or the first name, last name, and city of the advisor.

Insight#4: Being the smartest person in the room is not as important as you may think

As far as making a connection with prospects, the study found five important areas for an advisors online or digital properties needing to convey:

  1. You’re going to act in their best interest.
  2. You’re going to be responsive in communication and services.
  3. You’re going to deliver values over the fees you charge.
  4. You’re going to help them understand investments and strategies recommended.
  5. You have a proven track record of performance.

Prospects responded extremely well to advisors who have outside validations such as participation in local charity or philanthropic organization and were involved with in a genuine way. Brad pointed out that you have to first convince people to like you, and then you have to convince them you’re really good at what we do. It doesn’t happen the other way around.

Insight#5. The importance of smiling for the camera.

When it comes to headshot photos, what tested most positively for either male or female, was a full frame color photo, big smile, direct eye contact, and a plain background. The only nuance really for a male was that if you were trying to attract corporate clients, a tie did best, and with business owners, an open collar did better. The takeaway: If you don’t have a recent photo that embodies these characteristics, please get one. Remember the earlier 11-second statistic.