Are Lead Generation Services Worth it for Financial Advisors?

Are Lead Generation Services Worth it for Financial Advisors?

Ask any financial advisor and they’ll say the biggest challenge for their practice is getting a reliable stream of high quality, qualified leads in the door. This article provides an objective, third party analysis of the major lead generation services as well as the pros and cons of outsourcing lead generation for financial advisors, RIA firms, CFPs, and wealth managers.

Are Financial Advisor Lead Generation Services Legit?


We’ve all heard the incredulous statement, “Nobody looks for a financial advisor on the Internet.” The biggest question that most financial advisors have about lead generation services is about their legitimacy. The logical assumption is that if finding qualified high net worth individuals with money to manage is so hard for a highly credentialed financial expert, how could it be possible for some third party firm?

The answer, most of the time, is lead capture through the Internet. Many lead generation services target individuals seeking financial advice through what is called pay per click advertisements. When somebody types in, for example, “financial advisor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin” or “how to get 401k advice in Tucson, Arizona”, ads come up which refer the person to a lead generation website where they can search for a financial advisor. Once the lead is gathered, usually it is qualified and verified before being passed on to the financial advisor subscribing to the lead generation service. But do verify that before you sign up for the service.

Do people seek financial advice through the Internet? The times they are a’changin. With the digital boom, this is a huge opportunity for financial advisors serving the Internet friendly Millennial generation. They trust the Internet so much that they’ll go so far as to work with a Roboadvisor, for goodness sake.

My experience working with a lead generation service, when I worked in financial planning, was that some leads were true while others were not. That was over ten years ago, so things may have changed. Check for the refund policy before you sign up for the service.

The Caveats


One important thing to keep in mind about a lead generation service is the highly competitive entry point. By the time somebody has launched a financial advisor search, and especially if they’re doing this through the Internet search engines, they are “in the market.” The competition level has increased dramatically and it’s likely they’re already talking to a few other advisors, both online and through their own personal network. As I mention in my Guide to Financial Advisor Branding, everyone has that one uncle who thinks he knows how to trade stocks! The lead generation service itself sends the prospect multiple financial advisor profiles, not just one. You’ve got competitors coming at you from all angles. The analogy I would make is it’s like applying for a job on Monster.com. Once the job opening is posted, word is out and you’re competing with every qualified candidate on the street.

Now, that’s not to presume that you can’t successfully close the lead. It means that you’re not the only player in the game at that point. You’ll probably have to work harder to earn the sale than if you had come up with the lead organically.

The other aspect to consider is population density. If you live in a rural area, you might end up having to travel far to meet these leads if the conversation progresses.

Are Lead Generation Services Worth the Cost?


Most of these services render a subscription fee and some have an additional charge per lead. While many advisors cringe at the cost, consider this point.

If you had to create your own lead capture functionality on your own website, it would cost way more than a few couple hundred dollars a month. Consider the cost of an SEO consultant starts at about $400 per month at minimum, and that’s not even taking into account the amount of time your marketing person would have to spend producing content to place onto your website, as well as the thousands for your Google Adwords budget. And SEO isn’t immediate, either. It takes a few months before you typically see results. We’re talking about thousands upon thousands of dollars here, folks. If a lead gen service is willing to do the work for you, you’re probably not overpaying.

Analysis of Financial Advisor Lead Generation Providers


Let me start off by saying that I’m not a business affiliate of any of these companies. I have not been paid to produce this analysis, and my advice is impartial, objective, and based only upon publicly available information. Please kindly note that I am not officially endorsing any of these companies; this rudimentary analysis is meant to inform and educate only. If you are interested, you should do your own research and contact the company directly.

In the analysis below, I identify what I perceive to be what makes each financial advisor lead generation company different from one to the next.

Paladin

Paladin provides not only lead generation services but also turnkey digital marketing services for companies without the marketing resources to set up a website, create a branding campaign, etc. They even offer compliance support. Paladin has been in business since 2003. I like that the company offers several different levels of lead gen service (Platinum, Gold, Silver) depending on what the advisor needs.

WiserAdvisor

WiserAdvisor has been in the business almost 20 years, and from what I can see this is the longest track record in the game. WiserAdvisor is strictly in the business of lead generation.

What strikes me about Wiser Advisor is that there seems to be much more third party commentary on this company than all their competitors. Perhaps this is a result of the company’s long track record. You can read what investors and even other financial advisors are saying in the 50+ reviews on TrustPilot and several other Internet sites.

GuideVine

Started a little over five years ago, GuideVine is the new baby on the block of financial advisor lead generation providers. While it maybe doesn’t have the longest track record, it does come with a few more bells and whistles than the other options. For example, advisors can make a video to introduce themselves to prospects and include it as part of their profile. GuideVine even has a team that will assist you with creating this video. The video feature is pretty significant, considering that seeing is believing and being able to experience the financial advisor on video is helpful to building trust.

Right Financial Advisor

Right Financial Advisor has a unique video chat feature that enables investors to connect with an advisor before meeting. It’s a great way to ease the pressure and make the investor feel more comfortable with the advisor.  From the LinkedIn company page it appears the company been in existence since 2013.

Outsourcing vs. Organic


Outsourcing lead generation is one way to get new faces in the door, and for some companies it is the only way to get new faces in the door. While these service have their value, it can also be very hit or miss. As mentioned in the caveats section, I wouldn’t underestimate the fact that once the lead gets to you, you’re not the only player in the game.

A far less competitive way to get new clients before they consult the search engines is through organic, inhouse marketing. As discussed in my Guide to Branding blog, the cold market gives most financial advisors the shivers. The way to warm it up? Branding.

While brand is something that most financial advisors put last, taking the time to create a truly unique message will allow you to tap into underserved markets and drive leads to the sales funnel. Most financial advisors, however, lack the time and resources to dedicate in order to achieve effective branding.  To address this need, I’ve created a way to provide this expertise to financial advisors. Read about my financial advisor branding program and let’s get in touch!

Sara Grillo
Marketing
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In a past life, I worked in finance in a variety of sales and marketing related roles, and hence hold the CFA® designation. With a BA in English from Harvard with honors and ... Click for full bio

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Paul Kingsman
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