News article

5 ways advisers and planners misrepresent their business online (and why they should stop!)

We’ve been building award-winning websites since 2017.

We do our best work when the adviser/planner challenges our ideas and engages collaboratively while understanding that design is subjective and defers to our expertise.

Then we have other sites where the adviser/planner suddenly forgets their day job and decides to play at being a website designer. Inconsequential details are sweated (“yes, we can make the edges of that button round”) while the big stuff is ignored (“can we please book the photoshoot in, those images you took on your phone really aren’t going to cut it”).

Many also make the mistake of trying to misrepresent their firm’s true identity online.

We’re not talking about the lengths John Travolta went to in Face Off (am I the only one who didn’t understand that film?) but the perceived flaws with their business.

We’ve identified five times this happens. Let’s explore them today.

1. Won’t admit to specialising in working with local clients

We’ve all seen it, a firm in a sleepy county town, with images of the London skyline on their website.

Why does it happen?

Some advisers/planners believe prospects expect it (they don’t), others believe it’s synonymous with money and wealth (so are many other things), while some believe covering a wider geographical area means they’ll grow more quickly (they won’t).

If your ideal clients live locally, adding images of the London skyline to your website will alienate them, unless you’re in London, obviously!

It’s also a missed opportunity to tick one of the boxes many consumers want – a local adviser/planner.

So, if your ideal clients live locally, ignore the temptation to include photos of the Shard, Gherkin or Cheese Grater. Use local images instead and be proud of who you serve.

2. Trying to look bigger than they are

The advice/planning sector includes thousands of small businesses. The fact consumers can seek the advice of a sole trader or go to a large firm with thousands of advisers is part of the sector’s beauty.

However, some advisers/planners believe that consumers won’t work with a small business and consequently tried to hide their size:

  • “We don’t want to look small on our website”
  • “Can you make us look bigger?”
  • “We don’t have a large team.”

We’ve even had one adviser ask us to put the email address of their fictitious PA on the website to make their business look bigger.

If you’ve considered trying to look bigger, please don’t. It’s pointless and counterproductive.

If a consumer is looking for a large firm, they’re going to find out eventually that you’re not what they’re looking for. At the same time, your attempts to look larger mean you’ll potentially alienate consumers who want a small firm.

That’s a lose-lose situation.

Instead, show the benefits of working with a small business while dealing with any lingering concerns a prospect might have about your size. And above all, be proud to be a small business!

3. Not including team photos

Your website should showcase two groups of people:

  • Heroes: Your clients
  • Guides: You and your team.

You can’t do that if your website doesn’t include images of you and your team. Yet we still get advisers/planners telling us that they, or their team, don’t want their photos on the site.

That’s a shame and a missed opportunity because great images are one of the things that separate the best adviser/planner websites from the rest. We’re not just talking about portrait images either, as the best sites include photos of:

  • Your office
  • Client meetings
  • People working
  • Groups of people
  • Points of interest in your office.

The photos do a far better job of engaging your visitor than a stock image will ever do. So, the more you can do to include images of “real” people and the fewer stock photos you need, the better.

4. Saying they work with anyone

We all want to deal with experts who have the skills, knowledge, and experience to solve our problems.

That’s true in all walks of life, from medicine to the law, and from mortgages to pensions. We all want advice from proven experts. So why do so many advisers/planners make the mistake of trying to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible?

Many do it because they haven’t spent time identifying who they actually want to work with. Others are worried that working with a specific target audience or niche (they’re two different things) will cap growth.

It won’t. In fact, the opposite is true.

If a potential client visits your website and sees a generalist, and not someone who’s a specialist in solving their current trigger (the problem, challenge or aspiration they want help with), there’s a good chance they’ll look elsewhere.

The answer? Get really specific. Explain exactly who you do and don’t work with.

Coupled with an effective marketing strategy, it’ll help you attract more enquiries from the right type of people and fewer from those you can’t help.

5. Not sharing personal information

The relationship between a client and adviser/planner is a close one. I recall during my advising days when a client told me she had a serious illness before discussing it with her spouse. Another told me of his plans to divorce his wife before telling her.

The likely depth of the relationship means that many prospective clients want to know more about the adviser/planner, and perhaps the team, than just the professional stuff.

Unfortunately, many advisers/planners hide themselves away behind a veneer of professionalism in the mistaken belief that potential clients “aren’t interested in their personal life”.

Of course, you should share your expertise, specialisms, qualifications and accreditations.

But you should go further.

The best team member pages let someone’s personality shine through. That starts with the image and moves on to include more personal information about your values, motivations, and personal life.

There are many ways to do this:

  • Spotlight questions
  • Personal images; for example, your holidays, passions or family
  • Descriptions about what the team member does outside of work.

Again though, don’t believe the myth that your existing and prospective clients aren’t interested.

They are. The personal stuff creates connection.

We’re here to help

We’ve built more than 200 sites in the past six years.

Two have won the Best Website category at the Professional Adviser awards and 4 out of the 10 on last year’s shortlist were developed by us.

If now’s the time for you to update your website, we’re here to help.

Email or call 0115 8965 300 and let’s have a chat.

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