How To Build A Financial Advisory Practice Online

Key Point Summary

  • As a financial advisor, you should consider adopting a virtual (or hybrid) approach to positioning yourself as a leader and resource to your potential and current clients. Nurturing personal client relationships to form meaningful human connections and provide specialized advice in the digital age is more than possible, it’s the expectation.
  • The virtual realm can offer more visibility, enhanced customer engagement, and greater efficiency. Embracing technology allows you to concentrate on what’s important, delivering personalized advice in the digital age
  • Working online means you can slash your overhead drastically. The physical infrastructure you need to put in place to conduct virtual meetings and drive inbound client acquisition is no longer a large, expensive plush office.
  • Full time, in-house employees is not the only answer anymore – it’s time to consider hiring virtual staff to take advantage of their expertise and flexibility. 
  • A virtual financial advisor is no longer bound by physical location.  They are able to work with clients regardless of either of their locations. These distance-defying advisors are successful in part because they know how to nurture client relationships with personalized service at a distance.
  • A location-independent financial advisor is more capable of finding balance in their life. The anywhere advisor chooses a life of increased freedom and well-being.
  • Download my free eBook for further insight on how to build a financial planning practice online while finding true balance in your life. 

Want to build a successful financial planning practice online but don’t know where to begin? Let me be your guide to digital freedom. First, you should consider embracing the virtual (or semi-virtual) financial advisor model and its various dimensions to position yourself as a leader and resource to your potential and current clients.

As we always have done we must continue to direct our time and effort toward building real connections with our clients – relationships that align with their specific missions, visions, values, and goals. Although the virtual model has gone mainstream and is thriving in most parts of the world, this doesn’t mean you should be any less hands-on. Don’t neglect the most powerful tool at your disposal – that of human connection.  All we are changing is the medium for this human connection, replacing the brick & mortar office for a screen.

I built my virtual online practice initially to have something scalable, repeatable, and something that allowed me an incredible life/work balance. Many advisors ended up asking me how I did it all, many of whom initially said it couldn’t be done.  This is what inspired me to create Connector. 

My Virtual Advisor System is a proven program that will show you how to start or remodel your practice into a virtual powerhouse, teaching you how to acquire and work with your ideal clients from anywhere. 

My free eBook and the Conneqtor system explore key strategies for financial advisors looking to evolve & thrive in a digital world while enriching the balance in their lives. Let’s take a closer look at how to build a financial planning practice online and why it should be your top priority.  

Adapt to a Changing World 

‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’ ― Albert Einstein.

The world is changing rapidly, and the financial services industry needs to adapt accordingly to avoid being left in the dust. Admittedly a daunting prospect, but this change is a much-needed shift that presents a great deal of new opportunity.

Transitioning from face-to-face selling to virtual selling requires a new approach better suited to the demands of new-age buyers who prefer to work through digital channels. This virtual realm can offer more visibility, enhanced customer engagement, and greater technological efficiency.

Evolution is natural, but growth rarely comes without growing pains. The consumer and technology have evolved into 2021 versions of themselves, yet the financial services industry has largely remained stuck in 1985. Well, that’s all over now, and there’s no going back. The Pandemic has fast-tracked our outdated industry’s evolution, and tremendous good will come from this evolution for those who acknowledge and embrace the world we live in; the future is TODAY, and tomorrow.  Time we learn from what doesn’t work anymore and leave it in the past.

Ground Zero

It’s often said that change approaches slowly and arrives suddenly, and that was certainly the case last year when the pandemic changed our primary source of communication to video. What was once probable yet unlikely scenarios – such as celebrating a friend’s birthday on Zoom, or holding your book club debate over FaceTime – instantly became mainstream in 2020.  

Younger generations prefer these virtual relationships when it comes to service providers. So, this is your starting point. Whether, via Skype, Zoom, FreeConferenceCall, or FaceTime, your primary means of communicating with your clients must evolve. We are in the client satisfaction game, so give them what they want. This is the modern way they wish to interact with us to acquire our products and services. Millennials and Gen Zers make up a combined 48% of the consumer population, so it would be a missed opportunity for a financial advisor not to adhere to the changing demands of almost half of their potential customers.

Get rid of all your unnecessary files and paper too; you’re going to need to migrate everything online, and there are brilliant tools for this. The longer your business operates, the more data it needs to store. If you’re still storing paper, it’s not going to be long before it starts taking up a bunch of space, if it hasn’t already! Online storage is a cost-effective centralized solution that makes finding documents more accessible, saving you the most precious commodity of time… time better spent delivering personalized advice in the digital age.

The Infrastructure 

So, you’re probably wondering what exactly you need to set up a financial planning practice online. It can’t be as easy as only a computer and fast internet connection, can it? Well, yes, in fact. That’s pretty much it.  Yes, there some key infrastructure pieces you should incorporate in addition to your computer, the point is that what is needed to run a thriving advisory practise today is drastically different from what it used to be.

Remember Border’s Bookstore, Blockbuster Video, and actually having to go out to a bar to find your next “significant other?” These were once the infrastructures and social norms which businesses and consumers alike preferred, but boy, times have changed!

The beauty of working online means that you can drastically reduce your overhead (I dropped mine by ~61%). There are plenty of tools for organizing, administration, and communication, financial planning, etc. so your infrastructure requirements remain minimal as many of these tools are free or available at low cost.

Not having to pay rent is a game-changer and will allow you to filter your savings back into your business and invest in crucial aspects of running a virtual enterprise. Think digital marketing and digital infrastructure  – two necessities to run a virtual financial planning practice you can’t live without.

This new-age infrastructure also means a changed obligation to typical operating costs and utilities such as office supplies for your staff, internet for multiple people, insurance, payroll taxes, electricity, water/sewage, or a cleaning company. Again, this equates to drastic savings each month. Other savings associated with a virtual business include not paying for maintenance on plumbing, electrical, appliances, or even paint (yup, I painted 6,000 square feet to save money, ugh!), and avoid having to deal with a sewage backup at 1 in the morning.  I’m afraid that one’s not hypothetical and actually happened to me, ugh!

Reallocating these business expenses will also allow you to bring more home to enjoy life, and after all, that’s what it’s all about! Part of what Conneqtor offers is to teach advisors the physical infrastructure to put in place in order to conduct virtual meetings and drive inbound client acquisition.

The Ideal Client

Identifying, connecting with and acquiring ideal clients are the most important processes for any financial advisor. Do you want to transform yourself into a virtual financial advisor, but you’re concerned about how you’re going to get clients online? Don’t be!

I’ve been a virtual financial advisor for years now and know precisely how to get clients as a financial advisor online — I’ve learned through trial and error so that you don’t have to. I have designed a virtual financial advisor system that will set you up with everything you need to build a successful financial planning practice online. Adapting the analogy: Give a financial advisor a fish (lead), feed them for a day. Teach a financial advisor to harness the power of the digital ocean, you feed them forever.

My system teaches advisors how to build a robust online presence that will drive inbound leads to you 24/7. By no means am I overselling. After going digital in 2013, I used my wealth of experience to build a system that offers you a repeatable and tested online sales process with clients coming to you. The best relationships are the ones we chose. Conneqtor enables you to select the clients with which you want to work.

Setting up an online financial planning practice comes with the bonus of working with clients regardless of physical location. Your location no longer restricts you, nor do you have to spend money on travel, spend time stuck in traffic, or waste time with “coffee meetings”.  Let’s face it, not all of these are worth the money you spent on coffee! Become liberated to go after the ideal clients you deserve. The contact point between you and potential clients is at your fingertips. I’m not saying landing your ideal client is a walk in the park, but making contact with them certainly is.

So how do you acquire new clients while working virtually? Well, I’ve created what I refer to as an InboundSalesMachine webinar to share my journey as a virtual financial advisor and what I designed, to help advisors generate inbound leads without ever having to cold call or meet in-person ever again.

Dedicated Advice at a Distance

In the virtual space, you and your team become the centralized hub for advice. It’s your job to make sure your clients receive a high level of personalized service from high-calibre advisors. Consider the history of the handshake in the sales culture, symbolically sealing the deal. This gesture can’t be replicated over video chat, so other methods need to be used to compensate for this.

Visual communication and tone of voice carry incredible weight in how we communicate. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian once demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal (Link to – https://www.wyzowl.com/infographic-the-power-of-visual-communication/). It is also said that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.  

Virtual meetings actually empower us to have very meaningful conversations with our clients, sometimes more so than in person.  There is a major convenience and comfortability factor when a client is able to meet from the comfort of their own home instead of having a stranger sitting in their living room at night or having to drive across town. To be a successful virtual financial advisor, you will need to make your interactions with your clients as personal as possible but also make sure the virtual experience is a great one!  Don’t make people look up your nose or constantly wonder what you are saying.  Nurture these relationships by being ever-present to reassure them you can provide an even better service level than in person.  Complementing your virtual meetings can be done with email, voice/video notes, and the rest of your digital footprint.  Let people into your world.

I recently touched on the importance of self-awareness for a financial advisor and mentioned that it’s ok to get a little touchy-feely. No, I don’t mean in the physical sense! I mean that it’s ok and often very beneficial to get in touch with who you are. Not only will this allow you to form genuine connections with your clients, but it lets you evaluate your advisor journey and whether you are living a fulfilling life. 

When advisors ask me where they should start, I reply with a question of my own; “What is the single most important thing you are looking to accomplish by being an advisor?”

Initial responses tend to share the commonality of wanting to help others. Which – don’t get me wrong – I love, but the answer should be deeper than that. Being a Financial advisor is part art, part science.  When you combine the two it fulfils you and what you seek to achieve in life.    

As an advisor, what is it that lights a fire in your belly? Why is this occupation important to you? Will being a financial advisor help you do everything of value to you and your family?

Most advisors are not taught to think about these things, but all else is secondary to these questions of real pertinence. Start asking yourself the real questions!

Mixing It Up

If you enjoy meeting with clients in person and can’t imagine being an advisor without it altogether, you can set up a semi-virtual financial planning practice.  I suspect this will be where we end up for some time.  Once the COVID-19 pandemic exists only in our memory, meeting with clients can indeed form a part of your business if you choose to mix it up. If you feel it will keep things dynamic for you, go for it. The pandemic has proven beyond a doubt that the virtual or semi-virtual model works incredibly well.

When working with Gen X or Baby Boomer clients, they may still want to meet in person. Nevertheless, once you introduce them to the virtual model, I assure you that they’ll be happy to meet via video conferencing. It’s just more convenient for both parties. Once everyone has had a taste of the time-saving benefits, it’s hard to go back! 

Marketing

We live in the internet age. It’s such a fundamental part of our daily lives that the younger generations can’t even fathom a time when the internet wasn’t around. When internet consultation and recommendations are the go-to, you need to stand out digitally as the best financial advisor in town.

This is why digital marketing for financial advisors is so critical. It gives you the tools to work your magic and develop a robust online presence through social platforms, website, and email marketing campaigns.  

Marketing your services will require an effective strategy to be successful. Without a strategy, you are entering the digital realm blind, likely to waste money and time amongst well-tailored competitor efforts. A powerful strategy can increase your SEO ranking, drive traffic to your website, enhance your social media presence, and convert prospects into clients through inbound marketing.

Your digital presence will only grow and provide you with ideal clients if you follow the process of building awareness, getting your audience to consider you through engagement and prompting action to acquire them as a client. Trust the process!

Virtual Staff

With a virtual financial planning practice, you can be fully operational by hiring virtual employees. Not only is outsourcing far more cost-effective than hiring full-time staff, but you can acquire expertise in a variety of different skill sets.

There is a world of professionals working remotely who are rearing to help you move your business forward. Finding the right person is all the more possible with the number of companies that offer virtual staffing solutions.

Enjoy the flexibility of the virtual staff. Get the pros in and cut the dead weight. You can also leverage freelancers, you can access a whole team of expert individuals on call, using them when and where you need them. In the digital world, this is most definitely the way to go.

Work/Life Balance 

As an advisor, did you ever really want to conduct phone clinics at night, or meet with prospective clients at their home – sometimes at night, an hour’s drive or more away, only to get porched? Did you envision yourself becoming a peddler, pushing products like a salesman?  

No, of course not, but it’s been engrained into the teachings of financial advisory services and is what we believed we had to do to earn a living in this industry. The anywhere advisor chooses a life of increased freedom and well-being. I’ve previously discussed the value of being a location independent financial advisor, and I can’t stress enough the profound effect it could have on your life and your pursuit of balance.  

Deeper Understanding 

I hope this gives you a brief understand of what going virtual entails and its immediate benefits. For a deeper understanding and a mentorship guide to building a virtual financial planning practice, get the advisor playbook: Download my free eBook right away. 

Dive into the chapters of my eBook, where I explain my journey of epic realisations and eureka moments. I give perspective on the outdated nature of the financial industry and how to avoid extinction like the dinosaurs. Yes, there was a massive meteor that hit the planet and wiped a bunch out. But meteor or not, dinosaurs were doomed because they didn’t adapt to their changing environment.  The difference between them and us, we have a choice.

Thanks for reading, sending positive vibes your way.

Cheers,

Derek Notman