For Jeff Rose, founder and chief executive officer of Alliance Wealth Management in Carbondale, Ill., one of the best ways to communicate with existing clients and to attract new ones is through his blog.
Rose said he read an article about blogs a couple of years ago that piqued his interest and “I just kind of dove right in.” Now, he said, “The blog is kind of the landing pad for most people that come and find me.”
“The initial thought was to have a tool that I could use to educate my clients,” he said, noting, “As an advisor you get asked a lot of the same questions.”
But over time Rose realized that the blog and Web site could be more than just a way to answer frequently asked questions -- it could also be a marketing tool, and a platform to launch other ventures.
Rose pointed out that his community is mainly a college town, so most of his clients fall in the $500 to $1 million of investable assets range. However, he also has some larger clients -- including the first one that was a direct result of the blog, who brought in just over $2 million in assets.
There are a lot of advantages to having a blog and a strong online presence as a financial advisor, Rose said. One is that you have a way to demonstrate your expertise to both existing and potential clients. Secondly, he said, it’s an opportunity to show your personality and approach to investing. “If somebody’s going to become my client I want them to know me for who I am,” he said.
While much of the information is geared towards clients and potential clients on the blog, Rose also covers more basic topics, as a way to provide unbiased, needed information to people looking for financial help who may not have the assets or the interest in hiring a financial advisor.
Anyone can sign up for a weekly feed of Rose’s articles via email, including current clients, prospective clients, or just interested readers.
Rose is currently affiliated with LPL Financial, but is in the process of starting his own registered firm. He said that while LPL has been supportive of the blog, being a Series 7 licensed rep means having to have everything pre-approved.
He also feels that he would like to do more video blogging since talking is a more natural medium for him than writing, but video blogging is a lot more difficult to make compliant because of the difficulty of changing one word or phrase.
Rose has a lot of advice for financial advisors who would like to start a blog of their own. First, he said, interested advisors need to do research – read other blogs, and “figure out what you’re trying to accomplish.”
“A lot of people take it for granted that [they’re] going to put a blog up and people will come,” he said, but that is not the case. “It takes some work and some time.”
He compared developing a Web presence to the experience of financial advisors who conduct seminars. Rarely, he noted, do clients come up immediately after a seminar and sign on. Instead the financial advisor needs to follow up, giving people additional information and time to make a decision.
Blogs are similar, he said, because it takes time for people to find it and begin to regularly read it, and longer sometimes for them to decide they want to become a client.
Sometimes the blog is not the entry point for a new client, but rather just a step on the path. For example, he has a client who was referred by an existing client. He saw Rose on the news, and then went and checked out the blog, and printed out some articles he wanted to do discuss – all before the first meeting.
However, as important as the blog is for Rose he stressed that it cannot be the only way a new financial advisor generates new clients. “You have to be doing other stuff,” he said. Once an advisor has a sizable client base, they can allow the blog and referrals to generate clients, but before that, they still need “the days of cold calling and seminars.”
Rose said he also uses the blog as a platform to do other things. He now has a regular stint on a local news station, thanks to the blog. And he’s writing a financial advice book called “Soldier of Finance” -- Rose himself is a combat veteran -- and that book has its own Web page now, too.
“When you look at the different financial advisor Web sites, they’re static. And everybody has the exact same stuff,” Rose said. But for him, creating a Web site and blog that has both unique information and a lot of his personality is “just kind of a passion.”