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Why You Need Surround-Sound Networking

Wherever and whenever your clients, prospects and centers of influence are seeking retirement plan related information, you are there. That’s 360 degrees of you.

Here are the four tips on becoming the authority in your area as the retirement plan expert.

Ace the Digital Interview

Have you heard of “webrooming”? This new buzzword describes the act of researching products and services online which customers ultimately purchase offline. Potential clients visit your website and read about you to decide whether to move forward offline.

Approximately, one out of four (23%) plan sponsors are seeking a more knowledgeable advisor.[1. “Plan Sponsor Attitudes. Survey Results: 7th Edition.” Fidelity, 2016. ] Demonstrate your knowledge with a website that offers strong and easily accessible answers. In a recent survey, 41% of plan sponsors said they would want an advisor to have a good value proposition posted on their website.[2. MassMutual Retirement Plan Referrals Study. Opportunities for financial advisors to obtain referrals from retirement plan sponsors August 2016.] If your website does not include this, it should.

If you couple that with a retargeting campaign, a “giveaway” landing page, and/or a lightbox sign-up form, this will allow you to continually stay in front of that curious plan sponsor.

Let your website “talk the talk” so that when you are meeting with potential clients in person, your role is just to “walk the walk.”

This is why having a strong digital presence is important. If your website makes a great impression, then you will stand out amongst other advisory firms. When you ace the digital interview, this instills confidence in the plan sponsor. Your website is a reflection of your centers of influence. When you look good, they look good.

Industry Designations

How many years have you spent gaining retirement plan experience? I’m willing to say you probably have a PhD in ERISA, right? Show that to plan sponsors by attending conferences, and talking about your awards and industry designations.

Recently, the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) came out with a great video that discusses why the CEFEX certification is important. With all the recent lawsuits, it’s more important than ever that advisors have a documented, prudent and consistent process in place to minimize fiduciary risk exposure.

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here

By having designations, it shows your clients, prospects and COIs that you are serious about this business. It is a core competency. You are investing your time and resources to be an expert so that you can share that knowledge with your clients and they can benefit from your expertise.

With more and more advisor search websites coming out each day, you can distinguish your knowledge and skills by having retirement plan and fiduciary designations.

In my last position with a broker/dealer, fiduciary advisors were required to hold a fiduciary designation in order to work in a 3(21) or 3(38) capacity with retirement plans. While that is not true across the entire financial services industry, it might be the trend that plan sponsors start to think about soon. Get ahead of the curve and start now.

401(k) Case Studies

Can we get more of these? In financial services, we all know that we cannot use testimonials. However, you can demonstrate your results through case studies. Interview your plan sponsor clients and ask them to share their experience working with you.

Did you:

  • Improve plan design?

  • Recommend changes to the investment menu?

  • Implement a financial wellness program?

  • Change recordkeepers?

  • Establish a formal fiduciary process?

Write about it. Promote it. When plan sponsors visit your LinkedIn profile, have this article published under your name. Email it to your centers of influence to prove the true value of a retirement plan expert. Share it with your clients. Ask your clients to get involved, then write about their experiences as well. It’s the human element. As an industry, we need to discuss why human financial advisors are critical. This is a very powerful way for you to show what you do and talk about the ultimate value of your expertise.

Center of Influence Reputation

Many advisors tell us that their business is referral-based or from word of mouth. That is great. Keep it up. To help with your surround-sound marketing efforts, each week ask a CPA, TPA, benefit advisor and/or influence person to a meeting. This can happen over the phone or in person.

To open that conversation, start with a compliment and share what you have heard about them. The Internet makes this easy, and taking an interest in them makes them more likely to be interested in you. Then talk about how and why getting to know each other could be mutually beneficial. You have clients; they have clients. See if your values align and if there is a working opportunity. You never know. It could be a great partnership or even just a good person to know in the industry. But remember, relationships take time, so don’t expect either party to share all their client information in the first meeting.

Start with these. They will give you a good foundation. In future posts, we will dive into more ideas and details on how to implement them. As you know, the retirement plan industry is based on relationships. If you focus on your current relationships, make new introductions and promote your results, all while acing your digital interview, this will help you to become known throughout your community as the retirement plan expert that you are.

Thanks and Happy Marketing!

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing.