Author Katrina Shanks, CEO Financial Advice NZ. Article originally published in insurancebusinessmag.com.
OPINION: In today’s digital age, a robust online presence isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s essential. By harnessing the power of the internet, small-to-medium businesses can tap into opportunities like never before.
As part of our “Bring in the Experts” webinar series, we recently invited Richard Calkin (founder of Web Genius) to talk about how a well-calibrated digital presence can help adviser businesses grow and retain their client base.
If you missed the webinar, the full recording is available on our members’ site. Thinking back to the session, it was interesting to find parallels between the principles of digital marketing and quality advice. So, let me dive into some key insights shared, and how I think they resonate with the core tenets of financial advice.
Your website (and advice) needs to be up to date
One of the main takeaways from the session was that a website needs to be a self-service interacting buying tool, rather than just a brochure.
As Richard pointed out, Google is by far the dominant source of targeted traffic to small business websites, followed at a distance by Facebook. Today’s customers research businesses online and expect to find an up-to-date website, with fresh, relevant, and engaging content that addresses their current needs, queries, and challenges. But while business owners often invest in their premises, many forget to continually invest in their online presence – for example, by not updating their website enough.
This reminded me of the nature of financial advice – neither a static nor a one-size-fits-all solution. With clients’ financial situations constantly changing, offering relevant, up-to-date advice is crucial. Being in tune with their needs and providing information in a clear way is essential. And just as you’d tailor financial strategies to the current situation, a website should reflect the ‘now’, even be one step ahead in anticipating people’s needs.
It’s not about you, it’s about your customers
Here’s a golden principle, one that resonates in both digital marketing and financial advice.
Great financial advice comes from knowing your client deeply—not just their finances, but their dreams and goals too. Every piece of advice, every recommended strategy stems from this knowledge and understanding of the client’s own unique journey.
The same principle is central to web design and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Just like quality advice, websites that prioritise user needs tend to build deeper connections. Rather than just merely showcasing products or services, websites need to be designed with the end-user in mind, their queries, concerns, and pain points. And by centering the user’s experience and making the online journey as intuitive as possible, businesses can effectively prompt potential clients to start a conversation.
The importance of trust and expertise
To rank websites, Google evaluates content based on its ability to demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (in short, EEAT). So, at its core, appearing on that coveted first page of search results signals trustworthiness. It tells users that the search engine believes the site holds valuable, reliable information from a reputable source. It’s an endorsement of sorts, one that users have come to rely on.
Similarly, trust is paramount in financial services. Clients are entrusting advisers with their hard-earned money, their dreams, and often their financial security. And when an adviser makes a suggestion, it’s a testament to their expertise, their commitment to the client’s financial well-being, and the belief that the proposed route is appropriate for their circumstances.
This goes to show that in both domains – your digital presence and the quality of your advice – trust is both a goal and a foundation. On the one hand, it elevates your brand, ensuring that your message gets to the right people, in the way. And on the other, it translates into long-term client relationships.
Responsiveness and adaptability
Here’s another aspect that financial advice and your digital presence (in this case, your website) have in common: the requirement to respond and adapt to different situations and needs.
Let’s consider the digital landscape first. Today, people access websites from a myriad of different devices and increasingly through smartphones and compact screens. Each device offers a unique viewing experience, to which a well-designed website will adapt seamlessly. It’s about recognising that a one-size-fits-all can be counterproductive.
Drawing a parallel, each client is different, with their own set of experiences, priorities, and understanding of money matters. Some prefer detailed explanations with charts and figures, while others might appreciate a more narrative approach, explaining concepts through analogies. Just as you wouldn’t present a website in only one format, financial advisers shouldn’t employ a singular communication style. The key is in tailoring the delivery to fit the individual.
Failure to adapt means more than just a missed opportunity. A message that doesn’t resonate can lead to lost trust, and potentially, a lost client – just like users will leave a non-responsive website for one that offers a better user experience.
These considerations are all the more important when it comes to vulnerable clients, who may need additional support to feel comfortable with financial decisions. It’s crucial to tailor both the message and medium accordingly, ensuring they never feel overwhelmed or sidelined.
The bottom line
When you boil it down, online presence and financial advice share foundational principles. Both demand an understanding of the audience or client. Both thrive on tailored solutions and a focus on the individual. For insurance advisers, this intersection can offer rich insights. By always placing clients and prospects front and centre, advisers can create meaningful engagements and long-lasting relationships.
Here to help
At Financial Advice NZ, we believe in the transformative power of quality advice. We are committed to supporting our members in their day-to-day endeavours as well as advocating for the financial services sector and promoting the value of quality advice. Would you like to learn more about our initiatives? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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