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Reflections on BACK2Y: The thing financial planners should add to their websites

It’s been 10 days since I attended my first BACK2Y event in Birmingham. A relatively high proportion of our clients are in financial planning, so booking a place and parting with my hard-earned cash seemed a logical move. I’ve rarely looked forward to an event with such anticipation, and it didn’t disappoint.

Ever since, I’ve been working through my thoughts (or processing, as our American cousins call it), one thing stands out for me, above all others.

How was it for me?

Before we get to that though, if you didn’t attend, a quick resume of the day might be useful.

The day itself was superbly organised, with a packed agenda of thought provoking and entertaining speakers.

The session from former hostage negotiator, Richard Mullender was particularly useful, with plenty of transferable points for our business. While the presentations from Nick Lincoln (@HatTipNick) and Tina Weeks (@SerenityTWeeks) were incredibly valuable too. It was particularly fascinating to hear insights from those people who have changed the focus of their business to planning.

The one thing that stood out

I’m 100% sold on the benefits of financial planning; I have my own planner and value the time I spend with him (take a bow Ovation Finance).

But I’m in the minority, as Paul Armson’s session clearly showed, the benefits of financial planning haven’t yet broken through into the wider public consciousness.

I’ve written many times about the importance of advisers and planners building an effective online presence; the centrepiece of which will be (usually at least) a website.

Almost every person who gets in touch with you has a financial problem they need to solve, which is why it’s important to clearly show on your website the type of people you deal with and the problems you solve for them. However, for me, and this was confirmed at BACK2Y, financial planners must go further.

Currently, it’s more likely that someone will get in touch due to a financial trigger, such as:

  • Wondering if they can afford to retire yet
  • Now knowing what to do with an inheritance
  • Wanting to move to a new house

And so on, rather than specifically request financial planning.

These, and similar, are all ‘triggers’ you will be used to; they are the problem that the person wants to solve. But, what they actually need is financial planning.

Improving awareness

However, if financial planning is to break in to the mainstream, it’s incumbent upon planners to explain what it is, how it can benefit people. And change lives.

One of the main platforms for doing that is online; particularly on your website and through content you produce, which can then be promoted via social media.

Focusing on your website for a moment; that means:

  • Explaining what financial planning is, in other words, the theory behind it
  • Using case studies to show how the theory is put into practice (I’ve written about this in more depth; read it here)
  • Testimonials to show how your clients have benefited from true financial planning

Ideally the case studies and testimonials will feature real client scenarios, accompanied by their name and a photo (I know what some of you will be thinking, but you don’t know unless you ask!)

We can go further too; videos and podcasts will reach a different audience, one which doesn’t like to read online content. Books, such as those written by Chris Budd, Jason Butler and Paul Armson himself, are hugely important too. So is promoting content on social media.

Next steps…

So, my key ‘takeaway’ from Back2Y, apart from a slightly sore head after an evening in the bar?
That as a profession, we must do more to educate people about what financial planning is, and how it can benefit them. That probably starts online, with your website.

Sure, continue to show the type of people you deal with (and who you don’t as @HatTipNick said in his presentation: “Be picky.”) and talk about their triggers. But talk about financial planning, the theory, the practical application and the benefits, too.

Only then will it stand a chance of breaking through and helping to change more lives.

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