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How Financial Advisors Can Use Twitter Analytics To Produce Better Content: Part 1

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Much of what I’ve observed in my many years of working with financial advisors from the standpoint of the use of social media has been that they use social media primarily as a publishing platform. In fact, many digital marketers still rely on social media to publish both curated and created content.

One of the questions I’m often asked, however, is “How do I know what kind of content to push and how do I know whether the content I’m publishing is working?”. This is a great question and as a financial advisor, you might like the answer as it requires you to do some basic analysis of social media data.

In part 1, I’ll cover off 3 key data points that you can easily grab through Twitter analytics. So, if you have a Twitter and are actively using it, this article is definitely for you. Before (or after) reading this article, it might be useful to visit analytics.twitter.com and log in with your Twitter handle.

1. Interests

Twitter Unique Interests

Twitter – Unique Interests

Twitter automatically collects information on the interests of your followers. In particular, there is a section under the “Followers” page, that indicates the top 5 “Unique Interests”. Twitter defines these interests as the ones the average twitter user would not otherwise have. Simply put it is “The top interests that distinguish your followers from the Twitter average.” You can use this information to help identify the kind of content you should be publishing. You can use these interests as a guideline for good and relevant content to publish.

2. Location

Twitter Locations Example

Follower Location Demographics

It’s definitely always a good idea to understand the location of your users especially if you’re seeing engagement at odd times of the night. Understanding these details can help increase the amount of engagement you receive from around the globe. This is especially important in cases where you have businesses and clients in different time zones. Scheduling your posts at times when your audience is looking at social posts will increase your engagement and social conversion.

3. Your Followers Also Follow

Twitter Followers also follow

Twitter – Your Followers also follow

This data point is a pretty telling one as it comes to ensuring you have the “right” followers. If you’re primarily using Twitter as a publishing platform for business, this list should contain some, if not all, of your closest competitors. It’s likely the only time you’ll be happy to see your competitors on your list. The reason? It means you’re sharing similar content than that of your competitors and reaching a like audience. Another way you can use this list would also be to perform competitive research to see who else is posting similar content.

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Social media (especially Twitter) is one of the easiest and most available platforms to test your content as the feedback occurs in real-time (not a lot of wait time needed) and Twitter performs much of the data collection that you need to make informed decisions about your content.

Are you using Twitter to publish content? What is an other strategy that works for you to determine the kind of content to post?

Need a second opinion on your analytics? I’d love to help. Connect with me andrew.chung@veriday.com

2015 T3 Technology Tools for Today conference

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Veriday is excited and thrilled to be sponsoring and attending this year’s T3 Technology Tools for Today conference in Dallas, Texas. The conference will take place from February 12th-14th at the Hilton Anatole hotel. Technology Tools for Today: Advisor Edition was named one of the best 8 conferences for Financial Advisors in 2015.

This event is an opportunity for independent advisors and their staff to learn from leading technology thinkers and to interact with the technology wizards who are creating the solutions they need to build a more profitable practice.

We invite you to connect with us and visit our Digital Agent booth to learn more about our innovative digital marketing platform designed to solve Advisor’s digital marketing challenges.

For more information on this event, visit www.technologytoolsfortoday.com.

About T3

T3 Technology Tools for Today™ supplies the industry’s leading practice management/technology newsletter and conference for financial advisors. Founders, Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker, are dedicated to providing advisors with relevant and timeless information so you can build a more efficient and profitable practice.

Veriday Sponsors Upcoming IMCA 2015 New York Consultants Conference

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Veriday is excited to be sponsoring and attending this year’s IMCA 2015 New York Consultants Conference.  The conference will take place on February 9th and 10th at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. The conference features some of the legends of finance and economics covering topics such as practice management, technology, international investments and wealth management.

This year’s event features Daniel Kaheman, PhD, widely regarded as the world’s most influential living psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioural economics. Also speaking at this year’s conference is Sallie Krawcheck, MBA, owner of Ellevate—a professional women’s networking organization committed to economic empowerment—and recognized as the only senior Wall Street executive who reimbursed a portion of client losses for poorly performing products.

We invite you to connect with us and visit our Digital Agent booth to discover how digital marketing can help to engage your target market, and grow your business.

For more information on this event, visit http://www.imca.org/conferences/nycc.

About IMCA

Investment Management Consultants Association was established in 1985 to deliver premier investment consulting and wealth management credentials and world-class educational offerings through membership, conferences, research, and publications. IMCA sets the standards and practices for the investment management consulting profession and provides investment consultants and wealth managers with the credentials and tools required to best serve their clients. IMCA is proud to serve more than 9,370 members, including 6,265 CIMA certificants and 732 CPWA professionals, as of May, 2014.

IMCA conferences are recognized throughout the industry as some of the best educational experiences available, providing completely peer-reviewed content from prominent industry experts. With no “pay-to-play” speaking opportunities, IMCA conference attendees enjoy unbiased, savvy analysis.

Social Media Considerations for Advisors: Google+

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In this series of articles, we will look into the most popular social media platforms and provide some key considerations as it pertains to Financial and Insurance Advisors.  This article will focus on Google+.

Launched in June 2011, Google+ is a social networking site that is owned and operated by Google Inc. With more than 540 million users, Google+ sees its number of users increase daily. Curiously enough, Google+ seems to be one of the most frequently neglected by Advisors. If you are unfamiliar with Google+ and its background and features, get to know Google+ by checking out this article before reading on.

So, how does Google+ relate to Financial and Insurance Advisors? Let’s look into some key considerations to take into account when you’re deciding whether to embrace Google+ as part of your social media strategy.

Demographics of Google+:

  • 369 million active users
  • 67% males
  • 25-34 are the most active demographic on Google+
  • Tends to be used by professionals
  • Users tend to work in the engineering, software and design industries

The Concept of Circles

Google+ allows you to post videos, links, pictures and text content, however, introduces the new concept of Circles. Google+ connections are placed into circles, which are similar to mailing lists. For Advisors, one of the most significant benefits is the ability to segment audiences into these circles. Google+ allows you to break up your audience into circles so that content can be targeted toward those who would be interested in it. For example, Advisors could create a circle for current clients, and a circle for prospective clients. Circles make content sharing among like-minded people and organizations easy.  This means you can use circles to closely target your messaging.

Communities

Google+ allows you to create, or participate in, focused groups called ”communities”, of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest. Joining these communities could be an excellent way to raise awareness for your business and help to nurture relationships in the industry. You can also create communities to help in knowledge sharing, or based on shared interests.

Search Engine Optimization

It is important to remember that Google+ is Google, the largest search engine in the world. Search Engine Optimization is all about getting your website found by prospects, and Google owns 75% of the market share when it comes to search. Although Google+ is a social networking website, it also integrates with the entire Google network and is said to carry significant weight in terms of Search Engine Optimization and organic search visibility.

As Hubspot points out, Google is eager to provide plenty of incentives for people to actively use Google+, and has tied the platform very closely to all of its Google Search features.  Google rewards its own users in their search engine. Bottom line, Google+ can help to increase your business’ visibility in Google’s organic search results; therefore increasing the likelihood of potential customers finding you.

Google+Local

Google+Local is an important part of Google+ and focuses specifically on businesses and their locations. These pages are similar to Facebook business pages, but include many more features geared to help businesses connect with local prospects on a social level.  Google+Local pages are indexed in Google’s searches. Using this feature will not only improve your business’ SEO, but will increase online visibility by providing prospects with a link to your website, contact information, services offered, travel directions, customer reviews and recent Google+ posts.

Content Sharing

Google+ is ideal for content sharing not only because of the Circles feature, but also in terms of SEO. Google+ posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately. Google Search treats Google+ pages just like regular websites, so they have PageRank and can be just as powerful as other websites in terms of search engine ranking. You should start noticing your content showing up more in Google searches when you share it on Google+. Google+ content can rank in search results in instances where your website may not.

Google+ can be a powerful platform to help enhance your company’s visibility on the web. It has quickly pocketed the title as the second largest social media network and continues to gain momentum.  The belief by many is that Google will continue to place increasing SEO weight on Google+ making it important to consider when developing your social media and content marketing strategy.

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Has your business fully taken on Google+? What Google+ features do you find most beneficial for your business? Share your comments below.

Alternatives to Oracle’s WebLogic

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WebLogic, developed by the Oracle Corporation, is one of the leading portal frameworks and named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals. The WebLogic platform lets you provide a user interface to integrate dissimilar environments into an integrated, dynamic and customizable portal that can simultaneously support your customers, partners and employees. WebLogic is often used for managing enterprise portals and is known for improving business visibility and collaboration, and reducing integration costs.

In addition to a portal framework, WebLogic Portal provides many business services such as content management, communities, personalization, search and user management.

There are a number of Alternatives to WebLogic in the market today that offer similar functionalities. Which alternative you choose depends entirely on what tasks and objectives you are looking to accomplish with your portal technology. It is important to identify the needs and thus select the product with which you will build your platform on.

Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the best Alternatives to WebLogic:

Redhat JBoss

JBoss Portal is an open source platform for hosting and serving a portal’s web interface, publishing and managing its content, and customizing its experience. JBoss portal doesn’t aim at providing as many out of the box portal solutions as other platforms but is built to provide a fully reliable customized portal. JBoss features easy to use administration tools, a straightforward web content management system, and reliable performance and scalability.

Liferay

Liferay is the leading provider of open source enterprise portal and social collaboration software solutions, and a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the 5th year in a row. Liferay is a web platform built to deliver immediate results with long-term value. With Liferay, you are able to build any kind of portal including social networks, e-learning portals, employee and customer portals. The platform also provides more out of the box portlets then any other portlet on the market including Liferay collaboration, web publishing, content management and social networking.

Apache Tomcat

Apache Tomcat is an open source software implementation of the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages technologies. Apache Tomcat is used to power everything from simple one-server sites to large enterprise networks.  Tomcat powers numerous large-scale, mission critical web applications across a diverse range of industries and organizations.

IBM Websphere

IBM Websphere is an integrative software platform that enables organizations to build and manage web portals. Websphere was also named a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals based on its scalability, flexibility and use in B2C and B2B organizations. Websphere is used to help organizations deliver exceptional web experiences regardless of location or device. The platform allows for people to interact with other people, applications, processes and documents in a unified, personalized and role-based fashion.

Every organization will eventually be faced with the challenge of choosing an enterprise portal solution and integrating it into their business processes. The decision is not one to take lightly as the portal technology you choose will be deeply integrated into your organization’s infrastructure and work as a corporate face for your systems and processes.   Choosing an alternative to WebLogic or Sharepoint depends entirely on what features are important for your organization.

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What is your greatest challenge when it comes to choosing or implementing a new portal technology? Share your experiences below.

How To Leverage The Buyer Journey To Increase Your AUM

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What’s the relationship between the buyer journey and selling? (if you haven’t read my post on the definition of the buyer journey, make sure you read that one first before moving on.)

Well, as it turns out, the entire profession is changing and traditional selling and relationship techniques are becoming less effective because buyers are becoming more knowledgeable. In fact, they’re coming to the table with more knowledge than ever before and it’s making sales people too transactionally focused (i.e. order takers — please make this trade or please sell this fund).

Understanding the journey can help you connect with your client or prospect on a much more fundamental level. If you’re a financial or insurance advisor who excels, you’ve likely adopted the technique of understanding your buyer’s journey without even knowing it. When you connect with your clients or prospects throughout this journey, it will help you build trust. Why? Because each stage is buyer centric and not sales centric. The buyer doesn’t physically buy or decide to buy until after they diagnosed their problem and are satisfied with their list of solutions to solve that problem. Asking for the sale too early, makes you disingenuous and breaks trust because you’re just in front of the client or prospect for you, not them.

What does this have to do with AUM? What is the relationship between AUM and trust? Well, with my limited financial advice knowledge, AUM is basically all about the amount of money (measured in market value) that an investment company manages on behalf of investors. Is it safe to assume that the more trust that a client or prospect has with you the more they are willing to invest with you and thus increase your AUM? Well, according to Joachim I. Krueger, from Psychology Today, interpersonal trust is defined as the willingness to invest in another in hopes of being rewarded with reciprocity, while accepting the risk of being betrayed. According to this definition, increasing trust levels with your clients, enables a desire to invest in you as an individual and by doing so, they hope to be rewarded with, for example, the reciprocity of service, advice and financial gain and they accept the risk of loss. Higher trust = higher willingness to invest (i.e. higher AUMs).

Here are 3 rules I follow when working your way towards serving your clients or prospects at each stage of the buyer journey:

  1. Be helpful. If they are in the awareness stage, work with them to help them identify the complete picture of their symptoms. If they are in the consideration stage, send them helpful articles or connect them to people who might know more about problem they are experiencing than you do.
  2. Don’t ask for the sale too early. In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross you hear the term ABC – Always Be Closing. This only applies to buyers who are at the end of their buying journey. Yes, I know, you want to make the sale, you want to be the solution to your buyer’s problem, but that might not serve the interests of your buyer and it won’t help you establish trust. Asking too early could actually break trust.
  3. Be authentic. If they are in the decision stage, presenting them with 2 solutions you know they’ll never choose and then your solution isn’t authentic. Have confidence in your practice and business and place competitive solutions beside yours. It will help you weed out customers who might not fit your business and it will help you improve your services or products. Remember the relationship you are trying to establish and the types of individuals you are looking to acquire as clients. For example, clients who are price shopping (vs value shopping) will always choose the cheapest option no matter what. Even if you win their business today, they are bound to be troublesome and costly later.

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Have you ever used any of these techniques in your selling practice?

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website Re(Design) Final Part: Failing to think like a human

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We’ve reached the final pitfall in the 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website Re(Design).   Failing to think like a human. This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked during the development process.

Designing your website with only SEO in mind can be a mistake. It is important to remember throughout the process that you are ultimately developing your website to try to reach your target audience. Develop a website that delights both your audience and search engines. Make sure there is a balance between creating your website for SEO and creating your website with your ideal customer in mind. Focus on creating value for your audience and delivering the user experience they would like.

The end goal is designing and developing a website that is easy for your audience to search and understand and is simple for search engines to crawl and rank.

Here are some things to think about when designing your website for a human and not a search engine:

  • Clean Design – Cluttered, randomly scattered or unorganized websites are distracting for visitors. Today’s trend is clean and clear design.
  • Colour Palette – Ensure your colour palette reflects your brand’s purpose, message and positioning.
  • Use Obvious Navigation Terms – Label your navigation items in plain English using the most universally understood terms so that users know where to go to find what they are looking for.
  • Content Creation – Focus on creating content your visitors will get value from and enjoy reading. Make sure to speak the language of your target audience.
  • Including Testimonials – Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%.
  • Make it easy for your audience – It is great when you go through a website that has exactly what you want, relevant information everywhere and fits within whatever device you are on.

Keeping your target audience in mind when you are planning a website (re)design is a critical factor in whether your website is going to be effective.  Understand your target audiences’ goals and beliefs and use this knowledge to guide your SEO strategy.

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Recently (re)designed a new company website? Have any website redesign and SEO tips that worked well for you? We’d love to hear about them.

 

The Most Common Social Media Mistakes Financial and Insurance Advisors Should Avoid: Part 1

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Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool and I often speak with financial advisors about how social media can help grow and support their business objectives. Here are some common mistakes I often talk about as the ones to avoid when using and engaging on social media:

1. Failing to have a plan or strategy

Social Media should be treated with the same level of thought as every other part of your business strategy. Many businesses on Twitter fail to have a clear strategy around why they are using social media and what they want to accomplish with it. Without a strategy, it can be difficult to deliver an effective message to your target audience. You need a well-planned social media strategy in order to succeed. Some key questions to answer for your social media strategy include:

  • What are the goals of the your selected social media platforms? Are you educating your audience on LinkedIN? Perhaps you are interacting in a group to provide thought leadership?
  • What are the themes of the content you will stick with when sharing content through social posts?
  • How often will you post to social media? Once a day? Once a week?

2. Inconsistency in content themes

If you are an Advisor, it’s unlikely your audience is going to be interested on a restaurant review. While a bit of variety is great, your social networks should have a clear theme that is related to your business. If you specialize in families, produce or share content that would be useful to that audience. Topics on talking to your children about money or how to plan ahead to transfer wealth to your children would be relevant to that specialty. Your prospects and clients should be able to look at your content and have a notion of what your business is all about.

3. Using too many social media platforms

One key theme I’ve consistently heard from business owners is that being on more social media platforms implies you have increased reach. If someone visits your Twitter page and only sees a couple posts from last year, it can send the wrong message to your visitor and impact your credibility.Ask yourself whether your audience exists on the social media platforms that you are considering. Commit to the platform or platforms you choose and execute against a plan. Being good at one thing is much better than being average at many.

Additionally, it’s also important to ask yourself whether social media is right for your business based on your current time availability and the stage of your business. Social media is a great way to connect to other people but the networking aspect of social media is as important as the sharing of content.

4. Expecting instant results

The promise that social media delivers ROI is not false. Much like how going to the gym and eating right promises weight loss and other health benefits. The results, however, in both of these examples are not instantaneous. Approaching social media as a habitual part of your day, understanding that followers and social media engagement take time, and putting trust in the fact that it can deliver a return on investment are the keys to getting results. It is important to remember that social media is all about relationship building, and relationships don’t build over night. It takes time to build up a following on your social networks. Embrace social media as part of your business every day.

5. Pushing Product or Services

There is room for self-promotion on social media but doing it without permission can often send your prospects away. Your audience needs you to deliver content that provides real value to them and helps to solve their problems. Sharing useful and insightful information will help build a level of trust with your audience. Building trust will lead to higher levels of engagement and a captive audience. Having a captive audience is marketing gold.

 

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Social Media has the ability to be a very effective method of connecting to the right prospects, engaging with current clients and helping to grow your business.  But just like any other business strategy, social media activity should be continuously monitored and adjusted to optimize for impact.

In Part 2 of this series, I will discuss 5 more common social media mistakes made by Advisors.

Do you have stories to share about your social media experiences or mistakes? We’d love to hear about them.

 

4 Reasons Why Financial and Insurance Advisor Websites Struggle

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There’s nothing more frustrating than investing in an amazing looking advisor website only to suffer from a lack of website traffic and visitor engagement. Here are 4 reasons and actionable tips you can use to help solve this very common yet solvable problem.

Reason 1: Not enough content and pages

The old saying of quality over quantity does still matter in the world of digital marketing but many advisor websites I’ve reviewed lack a volume of web pages and content, and by content I mean words, images and video. Not enough content implies not enough keywords and not enough pages leads to low page views and low engagement. Search engines require “food” and need to be given the chance to figure out whether your content is useful and relevant. Simply adding more content is an effective way to increase your site’s traffic.

ACTION: Add more content. I know, seems obvious. Avoid adding content for the sake of adding content. Really think through what you are missing on your website. Have you told the complete story of your practice? Your philosophy? How you engage with your clients? How you solve you client’s most mind boggling problems? If after your assessment you feel as though you have told the complete story, consider starting a blog. Blogging is the web’s most effective way to generate organic traffic to websites.

Reason 2: Poor Site Flow

One of the things that make a dancer a good dancer is that their movements follow a logical and progressive pattern and flow. The same logical and progressive pattern is required of any good website. Many advisor websites that I’ve seen have “dead ends” — a place where visitors are not given a choice to continue their journey within the website. It’s also important to remember that your visitors may not always start their visit from the home page. An easy way to determine whether your website has poor site flow would be to take a look at your bounce rates and your time on site. Websites with poor site flow tend to have really poor bounce rates (a bounce rate greater than 50% would be classified as poor) and have visitors who spend seconds instead of minutes on a website.

ACTION: Add more calls to action on your website. Thinking about your website from the perspective of calls to action will force you to think logically about your website’s flow. A call to action provides your visitor with direction and it provides you with a number of different progression points for the visitor. It must be logical and it must be related to the content on your web page. For example, let’s say you think of a call to action that asks your visitor to “Schedule an assessment of their RRSP investment mix”. What’s a logical path to that call to action? It could be, 1) Visitor enters by searching for some tips on effectively saving for retirement, 2) Visitor likes the article and decides to look at what your practice does with respect to Retirement Savings advice and 3) Visitor sees your call to action to schedule an assessment and clicks on it and submits their contact information (first name, last name, email, etc.). Think about what your calls to action will be and plan out the path to get there!

Reason 3: Your Value Proposition is all about You

Writing a solid value proposition can be a challenging and time consuming task. I’ve read a significant number of different value propositions and the most common mistake I run into is the fact that value propositions are always about the advisor or the practice. Very seldom does it ever speak to the visitor. Remember, the first goal of your website is to provide enough incentive for the visitor to click again. That’s it. When someone visits you for the first time or is trying to learn more about you they are trying to figure out how you can help them and not so much about how great you are (that comes later).

ACTION: Re-evaluate your value proposition. Does it speak to your visitors? Does it clearly indicate the problems you help them solve? Or does it talk about what you do and how many awards you’ve received? If you need more tips on writing an effective value proposition, take a look at this blog post.

Reason 4: Where did all the Keywords go?

SEO is critical. With the sheer volume of content that exists on the web, advisors can no longer afford to launch their online brand without knowledge or consideration of Search Engine Optimization. Advisors don’t need to be experts in SEO, but they should understand a the key fundamental aspects of SEO that will help their website rank in a Google or Bing search. Many advisor websites I’ve reviewed have volumes of content, however, there aren’t enough long tail keywords on the page. Before defining a long tail keyword, let’s define “keyword”. A keyword is defined as a word or concept of great significance. For example, “apple”. In search, keywords are used to match search queries, for example, “what is an apple?”. Search engines, attempt to match queries with keywords as a part of their ranking algorithm. Content containing common keywords puts you in a more competitive search rank scenario. For example, doing a search on “Andrew Chung” brings up a ton of other “Andrew Chung” in the world and puts me in a very competitive search competition. Taking the same example, doing a search on “Andrew Chung Veriday”, puts me right at the top. This is an example of a long tail keyword. Even though it still contains “Andrew Chung” (a very common keyword), appending “Veriday” to the end of it makes it unique and enables you to rank high for that particular search. Best practices in keyword optimization state that using your audience’s common language is critical to your keyword strategy.

ACTION: As a start, look at the headings in your content; these are typically titles that have a larger size than your regular text. Are these keywords relevant to your practice? Are they written in your target audience’s language? Are the headings too common (for example “Our Practice” is too common)? Take the 5-10 weakest headings and simply re-write them or enhance them with long-tail keywords relevant to the financial advice industry and your business.

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What kind of techniques have you used to help combat low traffic and low engagement websites? Or, if you’ve tried any of these techniques, what were you results?

CRM 2 will empower clients, but will it empower Advisors?

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The Client Relationship Model Stage 2 (CRM2) model will change the way clients view the service their financial advisors provide. It will empower the clients to asses the relationship with their advisor and how they are progressing towards reaching their investment goals.

The CRM 2 bill is generating a fair bit of uncertainty and fear within the advisor community. Some feel the transparency is good for everyone, while others would disagree. Some see it as an opportunity, while others will see it as a major challenge.

We’d like to know what you think. What will CRM2 mean to you? Will the CRM2 empower Advisors, and if so, how? Share your comments and insights below.