I met Tim in the bar of his golf club in Epsom. He’d been a financial adviser for twenty years and had, in his own words ‘done his time’ at Hambro and later Allied Dunbar.

We were meeting because the provider I was with at the time had given him a PHI agency because Dunbar didn’t yet have their own Replacement Income product to sell to clients. He’d also known my Grandfather who’d been with the Royal Exchange and who he had met at Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) events in London.

I liked Tim, because apart from giving me regular business, he was fun, full of energy and always brimming with ideas.

If you’re still reading at this point, you’ll probably be of a ‘certain age’ and experience within the financial advice profession, and it’s likely that you’ll look back with fondness to those heady days when ‘brokers’ (what we now loosely call IFAs) and inspectors (broker consultants/reps) would happily spend the afternoon in the pub together, or in this case Tim’s golf club. That approach to relationship-building between provider and broker worked well back then and it was how business got done.

Tim was proud of his financial advice practice and happily shared stories about different clients and how he had acquired them over the years. He told me in no uncertain terms that there were four ways to get new clients – should I ever want to join his ranks. They were:

  1. Actively ask for referrals from existing clients
  2. Host seminars and workshops (something he did at his golf club every three months)
  3. Send out a monthly newsletter to clients (stressing monthly)
  4. Host client events as often as possible. 

You need to bear in mind that this was long before the Internet and Social Media, so the ability for clients and prospects to ‘see the whites of his eyes’ was central to Tim's communication strategy. It’s also worth bearing in mind that sending out a monthly newsletter to clients was pretty well unheard of at that time – there were no marketing companies who would create them for you and which you could white-label as your own.  And those brokers who were sending out a newsletter were doing it annually!

So Tim’s newsletter was literally just that – a letter that he wrote, highlighting what he’d been up to over the previous month, how his golf was coming along and a couple of ‘financial observations’ as he called them – a few titbits which he felt his clients might like to know.

At the time, financial advice was less ‘advice’ and more ‘this is what product you need this month’, but Tim felt that he had such good relationships with his clients, this approach would seem too pushy – though he knew that almost every one of them would normally act on his recommendations at any given moment in time.

I remember him telling me this:

“There is no ideal medium for selling financial services; newsletters are far too intrusive a way for pushing financial products. But if you build a name and reputation for being trustworthy and helpful, you will never need to sell anything. People will always come to you when they are ready. You will be their natural choice providing you stay on their radar with quality information.”

I know this because I’ve kept my appointment diaries and notes for decades when I was working at NEL, Zurich Life, Permanent Insurance and Pioneer Friendly. 

My patch as a young inspector between 1978 and 1989 was Surrey and South West London, which meant at the time I had hundreds of financial advisers to call on.  Later on in my career as a National Account Manager, I eventually met my now wife on the same patch.

I was lucky because some of these advisers were good supporters, and what was noticeable was they all tended to have something in common – they fell over themselves to communicate regularly with their clients. And in addition to Tim’s four marketing commandments above, most also believed fervently in building their reputation in their local community.

True, they didn’t have the Internet back then, so local was about all you had – but they were proactive about it and got involved with a wide range of local events where they could fly their flag.  Today, financial planners like Serenity's Jeremy Squibb and Informed Choice's Martin Bamford spring to mind, each of whom support local initiatives.

Today’s financial advisers often ask me what the best ways are that they can use the Internet and Social Media to attract clients, and all too often I have to let them down and say that it’s not the technology that will attract them, but YOU – the financial adviser.  Social Media is merely a facilitator of communication when used well in professional services.

Just like Tim’s view that there is no ideal medium for selling financial products – the same is true of Social Media. In reality, financial advisers will attract relatively few clients directly from their use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. But what the medium does allow them to do is to buy into them as a person – people buy people as they say.

Social Media for financial advisers is a tool to help you do just what Tim was doing; to tell people on a regular basis what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you believe and what you care about – combined with a few choice ‘financial observations’. In fact, Social Media is a great way for people to buy people.

Tim also knew his clients well. Very well. Fact-finds were done on the back of envelopes and table napkins, with more sensitive information stored in his head. Not ideal but that’s how it was done back then!  He knew the names of all his clients’ children, what schools they went to and what wine the family enjoyed at Sunday lunch.

The only way he knew all this was through regular communication, and the more trust clients had in him, the more they shared information with him.  It was a powerful and proven process.

I know for a fact that most of today’s best financial advisers and planners have client communication at the heart of their proposition, but many others are missing out on using the Internet and Social Media to communicate with clients and prospects.

Why?

Because they still see Social Media as a sales and marketing tool, when in fact it’s a tool to:

  • Strengthen your professional identity
  • Build trust
  • Create relationships
  • Enhance the perception of your credibility, and
  • Communicate ‘financial observations’

The problem is, where do you start? What’s the very first thing you should do as a Financial Adviser if you want to incorporate relationship building into your Social Media activity?

The answer is write a plan.

“But I wouldn’t know where to start with a plan?” say most financial advisers when we discuss this.

So here are two things you should do:

1.       Attend our Social Media workshop for Financial Advisers on 23rd March, when we'll transform how you use Social Media in your practice, or

2.      Get our Social Media Strategy Planner – a unique tool to help you create your Social Media plan; and one which is totally bespoke to your own financial advice business.

When Tim retired, I was delighted to be invited to his leaving party – also at the golf club. And I was proud because almost all of his clients were there too. All spoke of him as a "trusted friend" who could be relied upon to be in the right place at the right time with valued help and advice.

I like to think that Tim would have enjoyed using Social Media too, because it would be another great medium for him to express himself and communicate his value.

You should sign up for our workshop here >>

or

Download your Financial Adviser Social Media Planning Tool here >>