Building Trust Is The Top Priority For Advisers

Written by: Robin Powell

As a journalist working in the financial industry I never enjoy reading those surveys that rank the trustworthiness of different professions. Every time, it seems, firefighters and paramedics take the plaudits while journalists and financial professionals invariably finish near the bottom.

It came as little surprise, then, that in the latest Reader’s Digest Who do we trust? survey, New Zealanders ranked financial planners 40th out of 49, just three places ahead of journalists and seven ahead of sex workers.

The fact that they’re considered far less trustworthy than hairdressers and mechanics (with the greatest respect to both of those noble professions) should be of major concern to financial advisers. The good news is that new research suggests that, to most advisers, it clearly is.

In a survey of 110 financial planners and wealth managers in Australasia, Europe and North America, 90% identified establishing trust with clients and prospective clients as a key marketing objective for 2015. Their second biggest priority is investor education.

The research, by Birmingham Business School, also revealed an interesting change of emphasis in companies’ marketing strategies. Asked which form of marketing they considered the most effective, more than half went for content. Events and seminars were rated the next most effective, ahead of printed materials and press releases.

For someone like me who has long advocated the use of high-quality and engaging content for advisers looking to build trust and to attract and retain more clients, this is a welcome development.

Your content – whether it’s videos, blogs, infographics or, better still, a combination of those – should reflect who you are and what your values are. It’s largely your online presence, and particularly your content, that points potential clients towards your company in the first place. Referring leads to relevant content is a great way to follow up after your initial meeting. And once they become clients, you can use content to keep them informed and engaged.

A more worrying finding from the Birmingham study is that financial planners are becoming less convinced of the value of social media. Advisers have never been prolific users of the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and now it seems that many of those who have used social media are scaling back.

That surely a mistake. Social media is precisely where clients and prospective clients are. Not being there alongside them makes very little sense.

The essential point is that content and social media need each other. You can have the best content, but if not enough people in your target demographic see your insightful videos, your beautiful infographics or your word-perfect blog, you’ve wasted precious time and resources.

Social media is the how you direct your content to the people you want to see it and engage with it. It’s also how you share other people’s content – and that too is crucial to building trust.