When it comes to finding new clients your website has one job: to turn a prospect (website visitor) into an enquirer (someone who picks up the phone to you).
Whilst complying with current FCA guidelines (something I am not covering in this article) an effective website convinces the visitor that you are the right person to solve their financial problems. The key to successfully doing this is for the site to reduce the anxieties of the prospect whilst building the credibility of the adviser.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a checklist of the things all adviser websites should include.
How many on the list can you tick off?
- Photos of you and your team
It’s a cliché, but nevertheless true, that people buy people.
Too many advisers hide behind meaningless stock images, I’d recommend ditching these and replacing them with pictures of you and your team.
Images need to be professional and investing in a couple of hours with a photographer, who can take a series of photographs, which can be used in any number of ways in the future, is money well spent.
- Clear information about the types of clients you work with
All advisers should know exactly who their target market and ideal client is.
Your website should make this clear. Doing so has two benefits, firstly, it improves the chance of your ideal client getting in touch and secondly, it reduces the possibility of people who are not in your target demographic making contact.
- Explain the problems you solve
The thing most people are interested in is themselves, specifically in this case, their financial problems and how you can help solve them.
They’re not interested in a list of products, the intricacies of your investment strategies or convoluted explanations of financial terms.
They are however interested in how you can help solve their problems and meet their financial goals.
- Links to the FCA register
At a time when financial fraud is big news, making it clear you are regulated by the FCA will help to reduce the anxiety levels in some prospects.
I’m not usually a fan of links out of your site (you want to keep a visitor with you for as long as possible) but I’ll make an exception here. Include a link from your website to your individual or firm’s page on the FCA register; make sure it opens in a new window too, so both your site and the FCA’s are open at the same time.
You will be amazed how few advisers do this, adding the link will therefore set you apart.
You know you are qualified but potential clients don’t.
Add a list of your qualifications to your website, including the name (we know what RO1, G10, AF3 mean but your prospective clients don’t) and crucially, an explanation of what your qualifications mean to the client and the way in which you will help them.
- Chartered or Certified status
A growing number of advisers are achieving either Chartered or Certified status. I’ve often see the accreditation proudly displayed on the adviser’s website, but never an explanation of how it will benefit the client.
Without this explanation it runs the risk of becoming just another logo, when we all know it’s so much more.
If I were a Chartered or Certified adviser (who knows I might be one day!) I’d use it to clearly differentiate myself from other advisers, whilst explaining exactly how it benefits my clients.
- Statement of Professional Standing
This works in a similar way to qualifications and your FCA listing, every adviser has a Statement of Professional Standing, but very few make theirs available to clients and explain why it is important.
I’d suggest advisers upload their SPS to their website, whilst explaining its role and the benefits to their clients.
- Profile pages for multi adviser practices
If you are a sole adviser practice your website will naturally focus on you, however for multi adviser practices I’d build a profile page for each adviser.
These pages are crucial for demonstrating the varying experience and specialisms of each adviser and I would include:
- A professional picture
- Details of their experience
- Areas of expertise
- The types of clients they deal with
- Chartered or Certified status (if applicable)
- Vouchedfor rating (if used)
- Client testimonials
- Contact details
- Press mentions
Being quoted in the personal finance press is an excellent way of demonstrating expertise and credibility. It also helps to build your profile and can be leveraged in a number of ways.
In my experience personal finance journalists are always looking for a wider range of experts to quote and getting featured isn’t as difficult as you might think. If this is part of your marketing strategy ,make sure your press mentions are included on your website, again, it will differentiate you from your peers.
- Industry awards
Wining a prestigious industry award can be a huge boost to you and your team. If you’ve taken the time to enter and have been successful, then shout about it.
Again, it sets you apart from the competition.
- Vouchedfor rating
I’m a big fan of Vouchedfor and its innovative approach, but I’m not convinced all advisers are leveraging their membership as much as they can and there are plenty of options, including:
- Replicating the Vouchedfor testimonials on the adviser’s own website
- Embedding the handy widget provided by Vouchedfor into the adviser’s website to show their
- When it’s appropriate, including the ‘Top Rated Adviser’ graphic on the adviser’s own website
It’s also vital to explain to the prospect that the ratings and ‘top rated’ status are a direct result of client feedback.
Some people are cynical about testimonials, but I believe they can be very powerful in helping to reduce anxiety and demonstrating expertise.
Ask for testimonials on your client satisfaction surveys and include a tick box to confirm the client is happy for you to use what they say on your website; it saves time and automates the process.
I’d suggest advisers prominently display their testimonials, including on adviser profiles whilst keeping them regularly refreshed to reflect the work you are current undertaking.
Make it easy for people to get in touch, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to scour a website for the contact details you need. Your telephone number, plus any other methods you want people to use to get in touch, should be easy to find, preferably on every page in the top right hand corner.
Following these tried and tested steps will certainly improve the effectiveness of your website, but this isn’t the Field of Dreams, most advisory firms will still need to take steps to improve visitor numbers.
That’s a blog for another day, for now, it’s time to focus on making your website as effective as it possibly can be.