Financial Advisor Website

How to Make Your Advisor Site Not Suck.

Yesterday I shared why I think our industry needs a reboot on the advisor websites… Ponies and White People aren’t going to cut it.

The best site with the proper elements today is Wealthfront.  Note: no cheesy stock photos of white people on boats lounging. Not sitting in convertibles smiling. (UPDATE: They changed their site — now just as lame as everyone else)

Today I thought I’d share some more details about the elements we should all be using to make us relevant to the 21st century investor.

First and foremost- no Flash. If I’m a client (or potential client)I want to read all of your information on my super awesome iPad or iPhone. I’m rich– I’ll have one of these. If not today, soon. Also, I’ll just assume your site doesn’t play music when I enter.  Please. Tell me it’s not that bad.

So here you go… the proper {and only} elements you’ll need.

Our Story:

This should be the area where you get all lofty and inspirational. Anywhere else in the site, no thanks. And keep it 500 (ok 1000) words or less.

Contact us:

Think like a client, put it on the front page. I don’t want to have to click thru three links to get your address or fax number, or worse some lame email submit form. Put your primary custodian information on the site too.

About Us:

This is where I’ve struggled.  I hate the idea that my photo on a website is a good thing, but indeed everyone I talk to says they like seeing the people who manage the money. So show us your mug and give us your bio.

What we do:

This should be a practical guide of how the money is managed. Specific. What is in my portfolio?  Why? What’s the criteria to make it in the portfolio? And out? How often is the portfolio rebalanced? How often are you reviewing the portfolio with me? If you offer financial planning, show me a sample of what your financial plan looks like. If there are any pictures like this one… I might have to slap you. Get specific.

Our Portfolio:

Show me a list of all of the buys and sells in the portfolio or of the model for the last twelve months. If you can’t because you personalize each account, tell me. I will be skeptical as a result. If you use private money managers or mutual funds, show the risk/return data for the top 5 you own of each.

Performance Numbers:

If you can’t provide me performance numbers, I am not interested– and neither is an investor with half a brain. This information should be on every site starting right now. For advisors who customize each and every client, an aggregate number for all of your client accounts will have to do– we understand.  But remember advisors, the more you customize advice the less scale there is to your operation, which as a professional makes me skeptical of your ability to pay proper attention to my account. Show me a sample performance report.  How often will I get a report like this? These can be gross or net– just disclose.  See? Easy Peasy.

Fees:

List your Fee Schedule. If you use mutual funds or private money managers, it would be nice for you to show me the average expense ratio. Otherwise I’ll be telling people to ask.

Your Practice:

Tell me how many clients you have and how much you manage.

SEC Documents:

Show them.

Blog:

If you do it, do it.  Every day, Every week, Every month, Every Quarter (is probably too little). Just be consistent.  But the key to a blog on your company site to show people what’s going on at your place.  A blog is not necessary if you hit all of the other areas of design. For proper design elements of a blog see The Reformed Broker’s definitive guide.

Everything Else:

Anything else is fluff and a futile waster of time & resources. So, please take down the generic market news & quotes.  The calculators. The “useful links.” This pretty much applies to every LPL advisor in the world, btw. I’m not going your site to see these things. There is this new thing called Google Finance that pretty much covers my needs.

Ok?

Thanks. Buh-bye. Oh, and #Winning.

13 thoughts on “How to Make Your Advisor Site Not Suck.

  1. derek

    sorry, I only acknowledge perfection…try harder. sorry, lame attempt at snark. been intrigued by kaching/wealthfront for awhile, any insight/feedback?

  2. Kristin Harad, CFP

    Fantastic post! So many advisors make marketing much harder on themselves than they need to. The secret to successful marketing is no different in our industry than it is in any other: pick a niche, address your market and sell the benefits. Web sites with beautiful scenery communicate that your target market is anyone who can easily afford your fees. Target a tighter market segment and you’ll discover that you actually attract and close far more prospects.

  3. insert foot here

    Derek,
    I’ve been watching them too. I think they have a lot of great things with their technology — a lot of problems too. here’s the couple I’ll share publicly–

    1) They want a lot of advisors to use them as a back office, and share the revenue. Smaller RIAs will because it makes sense…Larger ones would join for a incremental revenue stream but already have the infrastructure for a back office, so it had better bring significant assets for them to make sense for any extra effort. In either case, it means as each new advisor joins Wealthfront– there is less shelf space for the other advisors on the platform.

    There are already like 30 managers. And studies have shown if an investor has too many choices they just won’t pick– that’s going to be Wealthfront’s problem if they don’t limit the number of advisors they have on their platform. I think most people will have a tough time comparing more than 10. But here’s the real rub– they’ll need like a billion+ dollars on the platform to be close to profitable with their revenue sharing arrangement… not sure I see that happening anytime soon.

    2) They are still marketing to investors with their “market beating” performance… perpetuating chasing the hot dot. bleh.

  4. insert foot here

    Kristin,

    Thanks for adding to the conversation. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. One thing did a tap a nerve though…I hate the term *close* when it comes to converting a prospective client to a new client. An old, wise {and successful} adviser once told me– “you never close someone, you start a new relationship; remove it from your lexicon”… it changed my mindset forever. not preaching, just food for thought. thanks for reading. and I like your site. 🙂

  5. Andy Rachleff

    This note is intended to address the issues raised by an earlier commenter re issues with Wealthfront:

    1. Wealthfront’s value proposition to money managers is access to new assets with very little overhead. We are not trying to get managers to move their existing clients to our site. In other words, to the manager we look like an electronic distributor which is of great appeal to them.

    2. We believe that in order to provide a compelling service to individual investors and financial advisers, we need to offer a critical mass of choice among managers. Our managers understand this issue and are active supporters of our efforts, so much so that they recommend new managers to us all the time. Because our filter for listing is so high, our managers feel like they are in an exclusive club, so they do not mind adding new worthy managers. they understand we are more likely to find new clients for them (especially among financial advisers) if we can offer a choice of 3 – 5 managers within each type of investment strategy. Our goal is to get to 50 managers by the end of april and then slow down on manager acquisition to ensure our existing managers are well served with new assets. We provide tools to limit the number of choices investors see.

    3. We expect to release a revamped questionnaire that drives a new recommendation engine next week that will significantly improve the quality of recommendations we make (and we limit recommendations to an easy to digest 3 at a time)

    4. we are as far from gains chasers as they come. if you read our white paper on how we select managers (https://www.wealthfront.com/static/documents/money-manager-selection-investment-performance-wealthfront.pdf), you will see that we specifically don’t believe past returns alone are indicative of future returns (which by the way is the morningstar approach). We try to identify truly skilled money managers using the premier endowment approach which has generated alpha for decades. This might surprise you, but we think the ideal person to manage your money is the one who qualified for listing on Wealthfront who has underperformed the S&P 500 for the past 6 months.

    5. we respect your view on the rate at which we acquire assets but we have already attracted approximately $180 million in assets under management and assets under administration in our first 16 months (we provide our managers with the choice if they want to be fiduciary for our clients. we count the assets as AUM if we are fiduciary and AUA if the manager is fiduciary) and are planning to make some big announcements in approximately two months that will significantly increase the rate at which we acquire assets.

    Andy Rachleff
    CEO, Wealthfront

  6. Anonymous

    You’re hilarious!!! Thanks for saying it like it really is (and what we are all thinking.)

  7. Pingback: In Case You’re New Here « I heart Wall Street.

  8. Pingback: » Wall Street’s Guide to Social Media In Six Simple Steps I heart Wall Street.

  9. Pingback: » Et Tu, Betterment? I heart Wall Street.

Comments are closed.