Corporate trainer, author and businesswoman Nikki Heald of Corptraining unveils how every financial adviser can build their brand and boost their firm’s success.
Business is not business – business is personal and people do business with people they like, trust and perceive as being credible. The financial advice profession is based on relationships so we need to consider how we can maintain this in today’s digital market. Each day we are confronted with a mass of technology, and there are certainly many benefits to working in a digital world – streamlined processes, ability to work remotely, increased speed and a multitude of choices.
However, in a digital environment the greatest competitor to financial advisers is the direct market. Unfortunately, there seems to be the perception of ease and accessibility around online purchasing. Additionally, people think that it’s not only quicker to jump online, but more cost effective.
So, how does this impact on financial advisers when selling their services? Well, it now provides an opportunity for planners to promote their value and the benefits of dealing with one individual. Something the direct market cannot offer, nor compete with.
Value of the planner
The value of retaining a planner ensures personalised attention and this enables clients to build a genuine relationship with one point of contact at the practice. Take insurance, for example. There is the advantage that advisers are experts in insurance and can carry out policy comparisons, saving time for their client. Additionally, advisers have knowledge of a client’s history and experience, so are in a prime position to ensure correct covers are placed. Of course, the value certainly comes into play at the time of a loss, when clients have direct access to their adviser who can provide support and guidance.
Another way of promoting your value is to increase your professional visibility and you can do this through personal branding.
Personal branding relates to the way that you market yourself to the outside world and what message you project. It relates to how others see you and thankfully, you do have some influence over it. As we know, perception can be a powerful persuader and your personal packaging speaks volumes.
Personal branding incorporates:
What you are: values, morals, ethics.
Who you are: history, skills, qualifications.
How others see you: reputation, credibility, trustworthiness.
Authenticity: promoting a genuine and honest brand.
Perhaps you have not thought about your personal brand, however, research has demonstrated the way in which you are perceived can influence a client’s purchasing decision. Getting your personal branding right may be the difference between making or breaking a potential business opportunity.
‘No frills’ or ‘quality’?
Additionally, personal branding has a profound impact on career progression. If you are an emerging leader intending to progress within the advice profession, ensure you promote your brand both internally (for promotions, opportunities, etc.) and externally to clients and colleagues.
Your current personal brand will influence whether you are perceived as ‘no frills’ or ‘quality’. People like to be associated with quality so it’s worth striving towards developing a credible and authentic brand proposition.
So, you may be thinking what is the value of developing my brand? Well, you may know how fantastic and wonderful you are, but other people may not be so aware! What we do know is that some brands are simply more credible than others. When you think of Mark Bouris, Lisa Wilkinson or even Lara Bingle you will think of a series of terms which you identify with their particular brand or profile.
Interestingly, the perceptions we have of those brands will have a huge impact on whether you want to do business with them – your clients are no different. Consider your current personal brand – grab a piece of paper and write down a few terms which describe you. These could include enthusiastic, the go-to-person, solutions-based, creative, dynamic, passionate and knowledgeable.
First impressions count
First impressions are powerful and are also an important component of your personal brand. We never get a second chance to create a great first impression, so it’s essential we get it right every time.
Statistics show that impressions are formed within 3-30 seconds so we need to maximise that small window of opportunity. During the first impression, people are assessing three major factors relating to the other person. Those factors, and the weighting of their importance initially, are:
Body language: 38%
So, during the first 3-30 seconds, 93% of the first impression we form about others is based on the visual and we either like what we see or we don’t. Prospective clients are no different.
Ways to broadcast your brand
So after investing time, energy and commitment into developing your brand, it’s essential you consider ways to broadcast it. This is certainly not the time to be shy.
One way is through networking and hosting events. You don’t have to host a huge event, you could simply invite colleagues and clients together for a morning tea. And ensure you network within your target or niche market, otherwise you are simply wasting time.
Getting published is a fantastic way to get your brand out there. Writing articles, newsletters or even books is great for your profile. Wealth Professional accepts guest opinion pieces from advisers, so get in touch to discuss a suitable topic. You can also sit on an advisory board and make sure that is included in your bio.
Your bio is a way of promoting you. It should outline who you are, what you’ve achieved and your brand proposition. Be sure to include it in any marketing material that is distributed.
Other ways of promoting your brand include chairing meetings, taking on community service, volunteering for high profile projects and delivering presentations.
Grow your brand
Continually work on your personal brand and challenge yourself to take it to the next level. Regularly review your brand and ask others for their feedback.
Again, business is not business – business is personal and that’s why people do business with people they like. Your personal brand increases your viability and influences clients’ purchasing decisions. And, what is said of you ultimately determines the quality of your brand.
Nikki Heald is a corporate trainer, presenter, businesswoman, founder of Corptraining and co-author of ‘Views On The Way To The Top’. Heald works with Zurich on various aspects of success in business. Head to corptraining.com.au for more information.