There was a time when we thought that robots replacing human workers was little more than fodder for sci-fi. Today, that has become a reality. Over the last few years, an increasing number of jobs – ranging from cashier to data analysis – are being taken over by automation and AI-driven machines. And we all remember when Californians voted a Terminator into the Governor’s office. Well, advisors, the robots are gunning for your jobs too.
Robo-advisors are a rapidly growing trend in the financial industry. These automated portfolio management systems have been touted as a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to flesh-and-blood professionals. Many companies are using robo-advisors for clients willing to take a more “hands-off” role in their personal assets. According to one estimate, robo-advisors, which use computer algorithms to automate investments and offer financial advice, will handle more than $450 billion in assets by 2021. This might seem exaggerated but the number of carriers incorporating digital asset management systems into their structure suggests otherwise. Vanguard has been using them since 2015 and others – Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and JP Chase to name a few – are following suit.
Will Robo-Advisors Replace Real Advisors?
The answer is no; despite their popularity, it’s highly doubtful that robo-advisors will send their human counterparts scrambling for a new career. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have at least some impact on your business.
A study published in February by MDRT found that 88% of the American adults surveyed said “technology should complement, not replace,” human financial advisors. Around 88% would rather work with a human. Only 5% would be OK with their entire portfolios being managed by tech-based tools. Compare that to the 36% of those who “strongly disagree” with robo-advisors completely overtaking the role of human advisors.
If stats like this reflect the consumer base as a whole, your job is safe. However, the rise of the robo-advisor does stress a few important points. The MDRT survey also found that about 95% think that advisors should be tech-savvy and make updated tech-based tools a part of their practice.
The Human Factor
This all goes back to one thing – trust. While a robo-advisor can accurately crunch numbers in a millisecond, they can’t replace the value of face-to-face interaction. A trusted relationship with their advisor, human interaction, and ease of communication, far outweighed concerns about accuracy and cost.
This is why it’s critical that advisors keep one foot in the real world and the other in the digital landscape. As consumers, we’ve come to expect, and in many cases rely upon, tech-based tools, software, and other digital assets. Millennials (who gave split opinions on robo-advisors) have been “digital” their entire lives. For them, an advisor who still hasn’t changed with the times would likely be seen as a relic. Generally speaking, advisors who are tapped into the newest tools are more likely to convert prospects.
While you should expect some competition as robo-advisors become more commonplace, try not to lose any sleep over it. After all, even “old-schoolers” out there can learn to navigate the digital world, make use of new tools, and utilize emerging tech in order to enhance the way you do business. And even if a robo-advisor can do all that (and more) in a faster and more cost-friendly manner, they’ll never be able to reach out with a handshake and a smile. If that day comes, then we can start to worry.
When it comes to online marketing, social media is one of the most powerful tools out there. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Nextdoor all present a wealth of opportunities. We use them to boost brand awareness, generate new leads, and stay connected with clients and prospects. One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability for entrepreneurs to actively participate in conversations with their target market.
This level of engagement is your chance to showcase your expertise to social media users looking for advice from a knowledgeable professional. The time spent scanning these platforms for opportunities can pay off big in the end. That said, social media can be a crowded and competitive space. This is why advisors may want to include alternative avenues of engagement. There is one avenue in particular that has been gaining momentum as of late – Reddit.
What is Reddit?
Reddit is a forum-styled news aggregation board that launched in 2005. By 2018, it had become one of the most highly trafficked websites in the world, with more than 542 million users logging in each month to post about an endless number of topics. The site does have somewhat of a questionable reputation due to the amount of explicit content. But there are plenty of legitimate and productive conversations taking place within the hundreds of “safe-for-work” communities hosted by the site.
Reddit communities, known as “subreddits,” cover a wide range of topics. This includes several that fall under the wheelhouse of financial professionals. These subreddits are filled with posts from users with questions and concerns over personal finance, life insurance, investments, and other relevant topics. Advisors can build and foster relationships with users by responding to these posts with credible and qualified answers.
Keep in mind that it might take a little time and effort for new users to learn how to properly navigate the site. They also set strict rules outlining what you can and can’t post. But once you become familiar with things, you’ll have access to dozens of finance-related subreddits. Some worth exploring include:
Targeting Reddit Users
Reddit’s ad platform is set up to target specific communities and users. Reddit campaigns can be used to boost brand awareness, drive website traffic, lead generation, and other methods of engagement. Advertisers can target users based on location, interest, or the subreddits they frequent. The platform also features scheduling and budget options.
The value Reddit can provide for you as an advisor is largely based on how well you use the site. Some may find it worth the effort, while others might not. But due to the number of Millennials who actively participate in the site, it deserves some exploration.
Good luck and happy Redditing!
Most financial advisors are probably already aware that seminars are like any other marketing tactic. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. If your efforts have been more “bust” than “boom” lately, it might be time to consider a different approach.
A low-to-no-cost financial Q&A session can be a more practical and casual alternative to costly seminars and workshops. The concept is simple and, in many ways, works like any other seminar would. The difference here is in the content and attendee experience. Rather than deliver the traditional presentation on one specific topic, personalize the event by covering subjects that are relevant to those in the room.
Structure for Success
A Q&A doesn’t mean attendees are welcome to bombard you with a series of random questions. That would be impossible to prepare for and could easily get out of hand. You want to keep things on topic and running smoothly. To do so, set up an online registration page that requires your guests to submit 1-3 questions when signing up for the event. This will make sure your final presentation covers a variety of topics but doesn’t go in too many directions at once. Use these questions to build a presentation customized specifically for your audience.
Obviously, you will want to leave certain details out of your final presentation and only include questions that are both relevant and appropriate for a public seminar. Use your own judgment here, but as a general rule, avoid the following:
- Personal information
- Stock / Investment Advice
- Specific scenarios (someone’s complicated situation that would require a 1-on-1 appointment to properly address)
To address the third point listed above, you should expect the majority of questions submitted to pertain to the prospect’s specific situation. That said, because the goal here is to bring people from the seminar to your office, those questions will open the door for a follow-up conversation. A good approach would be to reframe the question in a way that still addresses the prospect’s concern but is also broad enough to apply to the audience as a whole. This creates an opportunity for you to approach them afterward about setting up an appointment. And by collecting everyone’s contact information, you have a new batch of prospects to place into a drip campaign.
Preperation is the Key
As anyone who has given a seminar already knows, preparation is just one of the ingredients for success. But for a custom-tailored presentation such as this, the time and effort you spend preparing your material is probably the most important factor. Ideally, the inquiries you receive will be wide-ranging enough to deliver an hour’s worth of information on a variety of topics. However, it never hurts to have some additional content and/or topics of discussion ready to roll out just in case. And be prepared to tackle at least a handful of follow-up questions from the audience as you’re wrapping things up.
Beyond that, you can set up a Q&A session much like you would any other seminar. Take advantage of spaces that invite conversation (library room, upscale bar with a meeting room, gallery space). Just remember to keep things casual, low-pressure, and informative. Well, maybe not too informative. After all, any good performer knows that you have to leave the audience wanting more. Good luck!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Over the last few weeks, most of you have probably come across the latest “Insure Your Love” life insurance awareness ads. This year’s LifeHappens.org Valentine’s Day campaign features a heartstring-pulling video of a young girl and her father reading a bedtime story titled “Life is for Living” (one of the central themes of the campaign). We won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen it yet. But those who have already seen this example of emotional marketing know this one is a real tear-jerker.
Watch the video here:
There are two ways of looking at an ad like this. One is to question why anyone would want to put their audience through the emotional wringer with a video this sad? The other answers that question – because it works.
Marketing efforts that tap into real human emotions can be one of the most effective ways to capture consumer attention and leave a lasting impression. Do you remember the movie “Old Yeller?” Of course, you do. And you also know why you’ll never forget watching the film. A boy and his dog. Love and loss. Life and death. These are all very real themes that every one of us can relate to in some way. And when we, as viewers, see these experiences unfold in front of us, we can’t help but internalize them.
What Makes Emotional Marketing So Powerful?
Content aimed at eliciting an emotional reaction – be it sadness, happiness, fear, anger, nostalgia, etc. – can inspire people to take action. Often times, the more impactful the content, the more significant the action. We see this play out all the time on social media every time someone shares a meme, story, or video. Whether the content is funny, political, sad, or motivational in nature, it impacted that person enough that they wanted to share it with friends and family. If they hear a song or watch a show that hits close to home, they buy the album or binge watch the series. The point is, they take action.
Consumers favor content that connects with them on an emotional level. It gives them a reason to remember your brand. follow your social media channels, and take the time to look into your services. All of these are forms of engagement that can ultimately lead to you shaking hands with a new client.
Going back to the “Insure Your Love” ad, it’s easy to see why and how this type of content can be such an effective vehicle to promote the importance of life insurance. It puts us in front of a very real, and likely familiar, scenario. The endearing parent/child moment draws us in before the heartbreaking surprise at the end. The emotional reaction is genuine, the impression left is long-lasting, and the message is powerful enough to inspire action.
While the “Insure Your Love” campaign is exclusive to February, the concept is evergreen. So, next time you’re brainstorming for your next marketing effort, think about those things that would inspire action on your behalf. Chances are, your prospects feel the same way.
“I wish email would die.”
Those five words are perhaps the most surprising (and ridiculous) I’ve ever heard come from a marketing expert. And yet they did. I was even more surprised a few minutes later when the same person went on to sing the praises of drip email campaigns. So, despite his personal disdain for the medium, as a professional, he couldn’t deny the marketing value of email. With more than 269 billion emails sent on a daily basis, his conflicted stance is understandable.
As inboxes become more inundated, email marketing efforts need to become more focused and more relevant in order to stand out. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for a successful email campaign, but using the following tips could very well save your messages from getting lost in the wash.
Most, if not all, email services allow you to break your contact lists into different segments. This is a great way to make sure you’re getting the right message out to the right people. Compared to emails that go out to non-segmented lists, segmented emails result in nearly 15% more opens and 100% more clicks (Mailchimp).
Demographic segmentation – age, gender, geographic location, income, etc. – is one of the most commonly seen uses of this practice. However, advisors and agents should consider digging a little deeper and segment their lists according to the needs and interests of their prospects. For example, create a “Life Insurance” segment that includes only those who have expressed interest in that specific topic. This will keep non-relevant content out of their inbox and decrease the number of people who click “unsubscribe.”
The subject line you use can make or break the email within the first few seconds of delivery. A strong and concise subject is the best way to pique the reader’s interest and get them to open the message. A good subject line will tease the content of your email, but avoid coming across as spam-y or sales-y. Subject lines that ask an open-ended question, focus on something of value, or speak to a specific need or curiosity will typically generate more opens than others. For example:
- When You Can Actually Retire Vs. When You Want To Retire
- Saving Versus Spending: Why You Might Be Doing Both Wrong
- What You Need To Know About Retirement
- Why Planning Your Legacy Now Is Important
- How You Can Save Even With Debt
- How Your Retirement May Change Next Year
- One Big Thing Missing From Your Retirement Plan
Avoid using spam filter language (loan, free, mortgage, etc.), deceptive subject lines, exclamation points, and NEVER USE ALL CAPS!!!
More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, and the majority of those who do open their messages on a smart device will delete emails that aren’t mobile friendly. So, if your email is not optimized for mobile, it might not be worth sending in the first place.
Most email platforms offer a variety of mobile-ready and responsive templates that will make sure yours is designed with smart devices in mind. Use them. You also want to make sure you preview and test your email on as many different devices as possible (computer, smart phone, tablet) to make sure it displays properly on all of them,
If there’s one point that cannot be overstressed, it’s this – content is king. The copy you write from the body of your email should be clear-cut, well-crafted, and plainly outline your value proposition. Obviously, grammar is of the upmost importance, so make sure your proofread at least a few times. Ideally, you’ll want a fresh set of eyes to go over your content at least once or twice as well.
Aim for a good balance of text and images. Too much of the former can come across as bland and unappealing, while an image-heavy email can take longer to load, increasing the chances they’ll delete or ignore your message. You also want to direct their attention to your call-to-action and provide multiple, clickable links to the site you want your readers to land on.
Personalized emails can increase both your click-through-rates and conversions. And like the aforementioned tips, your email platform likely has a feature that will automatically include the reader’s first name in both the subject line and greeting. This sort of personal touch will not only catch the reader’s eye, but it could also increase the sense of relevancy and emotional appeal.
Measure Your Results and Act Accordingly
Spend some time looking over the results of your previous email campaigns. Try to determine what it was about your “hits” that made them more successful than your “misses.” Was it the subject line? The time and day you sent the email? Even the design and placement of your links can affect how well your email campaign performs. By carefully going over the different variables at play, you can easily incorporate those things that worked into future campaigns.
Whether or not you’re familiar with his name, as a financial professional, you owe a debt of gratitude to Jack Bogle. Born May 8, 1929, Bogle’s family was hit hard by the Great Depression. This experience would prove formative as he later went on to change the financial industry by creating the first index mutual fund available to consumers.
A Pioneer of the Financial Industry
Not long after founding the Vanguard Group in 1974, a company that now handles nearly $5 trillion in assets, Bogle established the First Index Investment Trust. This was the first to be built around the S & P500. Bogle’s creation introduced a low-cost, passive approach to investing. This leveled the playing field for the “small-time” investors of the world. Bogle frowned upon unreasonably high broker fees, non-transparency, and unethical practices. His common-sense philosophy and disdain for corporate excess sparked a revolution that allowed millions to save for retirement.
Bogle’s fierce advocacy for indexing was a dramatic break from industry tradition. While Bogle he faced criticism from Wall Street, he went on to become one of the most respected names in finance. Warren Buffet once called Jack Bogle a “hero.”
In his 1999 book, “Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor,” Jack Bogle laid out these eight basic rules for investors:
- Select low-cost funds
- Consider carefully the added costs of advice
- Do not overrate past fund performance
- Use past performance to determine consistency and risk
- Beware of stars (as in, star mutual fund managers)
- Beware of asset size
- Don’t own too many funds
- Buy your fund portfolio, and hold it
Bogle left Vanguard in 1999 and, a year later, founded the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He passed away on January 16, 2019, leaving behind a legacy built on philanthropy and standing up for the “little guy.”