Investopedia this week rolled out a new platform for financial advisers called Advisor Insights, which vets financial professionals before letting them answer general questions on topics such as retirement, college savings and portfolio construction.
For advisers, the benefit of answering investor questions for free on websites like Investopedia and San Francisco-based NerdWallet is the opportunity to showcase their expertise and also widen their online presence. That in turn can help bring in more clients.
"This is about building a digital presence," said David Siegel, chief executive of Investopedia. When investors "see an adviser with a strong digital presence and a lot of content, they will be more apt to select that adviser," he added.
Advisers who have been using NerdWallet's service called Ask an Advisor say the benefits are long term. For those using either NerdWallet or Investopedia, their profiles and their answers to financial questions will show up high on search engine results. In some cases, they even show up above the adviser's website or LinkedIn profile. Mr. Siegel said Advisor Insights helps simplify the process for investors to link up with advisers, and gets advisers' names out there on the web.
Considering how difficult it can be for advisers to gain search engine presence, using online platforms is a good strategy, said Walter Lis, a digital marketing strategist who works with financial advisers.
"Even if you have 90-100 years of experience being a company and providing clients with advice, in the eyes of search engines you have to demonstrate that online," Mr. Lis said. "The way you do that is creating great content."
Mr. Lis said answering questions for free on these websites can be a means of lead generation and help boost the bottom line.
NO MORE COLD CALLS
Investopedia's new advisor network has a list of recently asked questions on its main page, as well as a form for investors to ask their own questions. Investors can scroll through a carousel of "top advisors," which is based on how helpful people found their answers. When investors click on an adviser's name, they will be brought to a bio page with contact information and information such as assets under management and fee structure, as well as questions he or she asked. It has 21 million unique visitors per month.
NerdWallet's Ask an Advisor is similar, where web users can ask a question in healthcare, insurance, investing, personal finance, retirement, small business and taxes. When they click on an adviser, they will see contact information, background and certifications. According to NerdWallet's website, the website has more than three million unique visitors per month.
"As you can imagine, advisers see this is a great way to grow their business — their success is no longer dictated by their geography, network or cold calling," said Nicole Colwell, senior communications manager at NerdWallet. "This platform brings potential clients straight to their computer."
Johanna Fox Turner, partner at Milestones Financial Planning in Mayfield, Kentucky, said she didn't see immediate benefits from answering questions on NerdWallet, but years later has received calls from prospective clients who found her answers, as well as received business from it.
"I think most of the results will come over the long term," Ms. Turner said.
She said NerdWallet's audience has more basic questions while Investopedia's audience is a bit more sophisticated.
Search engine results are crucial for maintaining a sense of expertise, and advisers can use strategies such as answering questions on popular websites to gain that authority. According to a recent Backlinko.com study on search engine ranking, content that was "topically relevant" significantly outperformed content that didn't cover a topic in-depth. It also found that the domain — in this case NerdWallet.com or Investopedia.com — is more important than one page — in this case, an adviser's bio page.
Arden Rodgers, founder and president of Arbus Capital in New York, said he decided to use Investopedia because he wanted to help investors. It also gets his name up high on search engines. The questions for Investopedia are broken down by categories, which allows advisers to contribute answers in their specialty, he added.
"The answers I provide will get read by more than one person," Mr. Rodgers said.