TechTalk

TechTalkblog

InvestmentNews takes advisers through the developments and innovations in technology that’ll change the way you do business today—and tomorrow.

4 critical elements of every great adviser website

If your website doesn't measure up, prospects will be encouraged to move on, perhaps to a competitor

Oct 8, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

By Marjorie Wilner

+ Zoom

In the age of social media marketing, the corporate website may seem so 15 minutes ago. Nevertheless, few believe their business can get along without one, and certainly, advisory firm managers understand that a website is as necessary as phone service for a functioning practice.

A financial advisory firm's website is either the first or second point of contact that prospective clients will have with a firm — almost everyone does a Google search before or after meeting an adviser for the first time. If the experience is anything less than positive, it encourages the prospect to move on, perhaps to a competitor.

In contrast, a positive impression can give the prospect a sense of the organization's legitimacy and trustworthiness as a financial partner. Because trust is so crucial to the successful advisory relationship, the firm's website should be doing everything possible to build credibility for the practice and the professionals associated with it.

UNCONSCIOUS DECISIONS

Website visitors often make unconscious decisions about the related organization based on the most minor of details: a 2002 Stanford research study identified things like spelling or grammatical errors, broken links and outdated information as raising serious doubts for prospects about the legitimacy of that business.

(Related read: How to revamp and refresh your online presence)

For that reason, it is worth giving your firm's website a rigorous review on a regular basis to see it as a prospect might. Try examining it from the following four aspects:

1. User experience (UX): Is your site scannable? In decades of research on website usability, Jakob Nielsen has documented, among other things, that website visitors tend to scan rather than read, at least until they find the information they seek. So keep online content brief: offer in-depth commentary in a video, a slideshow or a downloadable format such as a PDF. Give some thought to how much effort is involved for the visitor to navigate through the website. Information that a visitor might be expected to seek should be easy to find. Anticipate the content most frequently sought by visitors and put it, as often as possible, one click away.

2. Visual design: Visitors appreciate a website that is uncluttered and easy to read. Ensure that the layout, typefaces and type sizes are consistent across the site. Empty space on the page may actually help ensure that visitors read the information you most want to convey. Include animation or sound only if it is the best way to convey information, and only at the visitor's discretion. Also, avoid using imagery and design elements that are merely decorative. Stock photography of the Wall Street bull or the New York Stock exchange does nothing to differentiate your firm from all the others. Instead, use design to highlight the valuable ways in which you are different.

3. Writing style: Is the writing direct and easily comprehensible for the average visitor to the site? Clarity builds trust, and conversely, readership is often lost to an esoteric writing style. Likewise, consider the degree to which the content may come across as “sales-y” or aggressively self-promotional, which readers tend to view with skepticism. Better to understate claims about the organization than to overstate them. Banish exclamation points, flower-y or extravagant adjectives and excessive typographic flourishes. The writing style should give the impression of thoughtfulness, authenticity and integrity.

(More insight: Are PR firms worth the cost for advisers?)

4. Information: Is the website informative in ways that help demonstrate the expertise of the firm? If you have built a specialization around 529 plans, make sure proof is easily available on the site. Provide credentials that support your claims: books and articles written, awards won or other measurements of success, professional licenses, accreditations and memberships, etc. Recognition by independent third parties is particularly influential in building the firm's credibility. Promote the impression of “full disclosure” — provide the relevant details about the organization, its practice areas, contact information and of course, fees. Allow site visitors to research the team: include professional headshots, bios, credentials and areas of expertise, phone numbers and email addresses. As noted above, check regularly to make sure that the site is up-to-date, relevant and error-free: there should be no spelling, grammatical or typographical errors; no broken links and no stale news updates.

The website is an early touch point in an extended process with the prospective client — an opportunity to build confidence in the organization and create an understanding of the value of the services offered. From the client's perspective, finance can seem complex, and investment outcomes difficult to assess. The firm's website can help overcome that perception when it reinforces the idea that the firm and its people are capable and trustworthy.

Marjorie Wilner is founder and principal of MWC Marketing + Public Relations.

0
Comments

What do you think is key to a good adviser website?

View comments

Recommended for you

Featured Research

The 2015 InvestmentNews Adviser Technology Study

This in-depth study provides a blueprint for the industry, providing actionable information to advisers, along with the latest solutions to help them drive profitability, efficiency and growth for their firm.

Featured video

Events

Tech tools of tomorrow: Innovations your firms can't live without in 2020

Gadget Girl hits the tech pavilion at Pershing INSITE to see what exciting new tools advisers can't afford to miss.

Video Spotlight

Will It Last As Long As Your Clients Do?

Sponsored by Prudential

Video Spotlight

The Catalyst

Sponsored by Pershing

Latest news & opinion

Brian Block's $4 million bonus was tied to a key metric at ARCP

Prosecution rests case in fraud trial against CFO of American Realty Capital Properties.

Edward Jones is winning the Google search war

Brokerage firm's digital marketing investment helps land it at the top of local and overall search engine results, report finds.

Voya's win in 401(k) fee suit involving Financial Engines bodes well for other record keepers

Fidelity, Aon Hewitt and Xerox HR Solutions are currently defending against similar fiduciary-breach claims.

Collective investment trusts getting more attention from 401(k) advisers

The funds are catching on due largely to lower costs and more product availability, but come with some inherent drawbacks.

Vanguard rides robo-advice wave to $65B in assets

Personal Advisor Services, four times the size of its closest competitor, combines digital and human touch.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print