Marketing as a Financial Advisor

What Does the Industry Actually Do to Market?

What does our industry actually do to market and connect with new clients?  There’s a really fascinating report buried in the site. I think I stumbled across it listening to Michael Kitces on someone’s podcast. I’d tell you whose if I remembered–a problem with digital media is, I guess, once it’s done, it’s out of sight, out of mind. I’ve been listening to literally 100’s of podcasts most focused on our industry and specifically sales and marketing. Most are mediocre at best. I certainly found a few points to Nit Pic; however, this one was excellent. It was about digital marketing and I believe the report is referenced.

The link to the report “How Financial Planners Actually Market Their Services” is right here:   

I think it’s well worth reviewing and studying. My thoughts – although too numerous to go through here – include the following observations.

Most financial planners are clueless when it comes to creating new client flow.

First. OMG. The report alludes to this more or less by saying that most go into business without much capital and have to use their time, not money to create new clients. Therefore, as they grow, they eventually plateau since they essentially run out of time, running around like a chicken with their head cut off servicing their clients rather than effectively marketing.

I’ve said this for years with my clients. I draw a chart on the wall and put any and everything they can do in one of four quadrants:

  1. Free or Cheap and Labor Intensive
  2. Free or Cheap with Minimal Labor
  3. Expensive and Labor Intensive
  4. Expensive, Little or No Labor       

The axes are: Labor, low to high; and Cost, none to expensive.

Cost versus Labor

As an example, consider the network TV advertising you see from a variety of firms – think “Fisher Investment’s” ads. Once produced, they require little or no labor to keep them working. Advertising nationally does require a big stack of money to keep them rolling. On the other end, unsolicited client referrals are essentially free and require little or no effort.

As you grow your practice – assuming you start out with minimal capital to invest in marketing – requires A LOT of “elbow grease” – much time invested in tracking down quality prospects. Once you are up and running, more and more resources should be devoted to “Direct Response” marketing requiring less and less labor input.

The HUGE failure rate for new advisors is certainly tied in great part to an industry expectation about referrals. If you have a small client base, it’s unlikely for you to be able to generate many referrals.

Marketing Spend

Second, in order to grow fast or to keep growing without working 80 hours a week once you are up and running; then you have to be willing to spend money. The figure I keep seeing (repeated in this report) is that the average advisor spends 2-3% of their revenue on marketing.  Other very successful businesses that I’ve worked with were more in the range of 12-15% of gross. I had lunch once with the founder of “It’s Just Lunch.” Their successful franchisees spend in the range of 50% of revenue on marketing.

Life-Time ROI

Third, in the report (& the above referenced podcast,) Kitces put the typical “Life-Time” value of a client with $500,000 in investable assets at $100,000. Now that’s over a long period of time (20 years.) However, you would think that advisors would understand a simple concept Return-On-Investment (ROI).

If you were consistently getting over 10% annual return for your clients, I’m guessing you’d be jumping up and down about your level of genius. Yet, according to the report, the average advisor spends $3,000 or less to generate $100,000 (and then complains about growing too slowly.)

Well, you’ve got to go with “time-value” or money and factor in “risk” but all advertising decisions should be based upon Return on Investment, not some average industry figure.

Closing Thoughts

A couple of thoughts that I’d nit-pic: On the list of where new clients come from for advisors, they include some things that are out of place. A sales brochure, book, or other tools will not, nor should they be expected to, generate clients or prospects directly. They are tools. Another misunderstood concept is the “marketing consultant.” A good consultant should create effective marketing systems; improve closing ratios; and design more efficient practice management practices not be an “advertising source” in and of themselves.

My next issue was, although they make some references to top 25% of planners versus the industry as a whole, it would have been MUCH more useful to only focus on what the top 10% do successfully, and basically ignore the rest. Like most industries, it’s the 80/20 rule – or more likely 90/10 where 90%+ of the revenue is generated by the top 10%.

That’s the only reason Stephen Oliver’s Wealth Mastery was founded in 1999 (previously also known as Extraordinary Marketing)–to help others understand and implement what the top 10% does. Our program is designed for Financial Advisors and similar professionals to teach them effective sales, marketing, and practice management. I could expand from there, but I’d recommend that you read that report and then think in terms of what you can do to be in the top 10% then the top 1% – I’m happy to help in that regard. 

What We Do

We provide a combination of mentoring, coaching, peer support, and accountability to grow financial practices utilizing a range of focused and effective marketing and sales processes.

For Financial Advisors we provide a free package of support materials that includes two special reports: “10 things that you must do to grow your financial practice,” “Social Media Marketing for Financial Advisors,”  along with two of Stephen Oliver’s business growth books: “Everything I Wish In Knew When I Was 22,” and, “The Way of the Mile High Maverick” along with several valuable training videos that include “The Bozo Explosion,” and “Key Growth Secrets for Financial Advisors.”    

You may contact us at: or, by phone or text at 1-303-808-8719.   

About Stephen Oliver.   

Stephen Oliver graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in International Economics, expecting to go onto a Harvard or Wharton MBA then on to Wall Street. Instead he ended up in Denver, and started 6 martial arts schools in 36 months. He ended up with over 2,500 active students and promoted one of the largest martial arts tournaments in the country along with 100’s of other events. Very early on professionals ranging from financial professionals, commercial realtors, lawyers, and of course, other martial arts schools sought him out as a consultant on marketing, sales, client relations, and staff development. He completed his MBA in 1992.

His first book in 1999 was on using the internet to market a small business. Since then, he’s written a number of books on business management, marketing, personal development, and sales. He works with 100’s of clients on growing their businesses aggressively and effectively. He’s taught business seminars all over North America and has shared the stage with speakers ranging from former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik to Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy to marketing guru’s such as Dan Kennedy and Jay Abraham.