Read how Brandon Silbermann, from Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd., used Digital Agent by Veriday to create a digital branding platform for his company.

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Reprinted with permission from Investment Executive.  

Brandon Silbermann’s digital branding initiative was powered by Digital Agent by Veriday.

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If the new way of doing business for financial advisors is at the intersection of the latest digital marketing technology and good, old-fashioned client service, Brandon Silbermann might just be the advisor of the future.

A typical day for Silbermann might include updating his practice’s website, checking his LinkedIn account and driving to a client’s farm to discuss his or her financial plan.

Silbermann, 25, is an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont., which is affiliated with Oakville, Ont.-based Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. He officially joined the investment industry full-time in 2013 after graduating from the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, from which he obtained an honours bachelor of commerce degree in finance.

But back in 2013, Silbermann already was familiar with financial advisory work, having been involved in his school’s co-operative education program, through which he was mentored by Don Stockman, advisor and founder of Stockman Financial.

Silbermann now is an advisor with that practice with his own book of business, consisting of $22 million in assets under management. He is licensed to sell mutual funds, which are offered through Manulife Securities, and insurance products, through Kitchener, Ont.-based Financial Horizons Inc.

Silbermann has learned many lessons from Stockman, who has been an advisor for more than 30 years in the Waterloo region. These lessons include key steps in maintaining strong relationships with clients. “Don always told me to do the right thing,” Silbermann says. “Take good care of the client. Make sure you see them face to face.”

Silbermann brought to the established practice some special knowledge that is characteristic of his age group. He took on the large task of creating an online brand for the practice, which did not have a website prior to Silbermann joining the firm.

This digital branding initiative included creating a website with the help of a third-party digital-marketing company that works with Manulife. The Stockman Financial website would allow Stockman and Silbermann to communicate their skills and experience to families and small-business owners, such as farmers and skilled tradespeople in the construction industry, who are an important part of Stockman Financial’s niche.

“We have three or four generations of some [client] families,” Silbermann says. But the firm needed a way to communicate its expertise to other clients and prospects: not only an online presence, but one that stays up to date.

Silbermann ensures that the website’s functionality fits the ways in which people use technology. “The majority of web searches are done through smartphones,” he says, his empty hands gesturing as if scrolling through a smartphone screen. “So, it was critical for us to have something that is mobile-compatible so that people could see it – so it looked nice on their phones and was easily searchable.”

Silbermann is active on LinkedIn, connecting with other professionals on that social media network. He does not network through Facebook or Twitter, but he is planning to join Manulife’s social media program for advisors, which will guide Silbermann in using Twitter in a compliant manner.

Silbermann’s digital strategy seems to be working just fine. He added three new clients through his use of LinkedIn in 2015.

Silbermann does not spend much time pursuing prospects online, aside from sending out LinkedIn invitations to connect with other professionals. He finds that fellow LinkedIn users will check out his profile, then ask him questions through that social-media network. But those conversations do not remain online for long, as Silbermann’s strategy is to meet prospects in person as soon as possible.

“As much as the world is digital,” Silbermann says, “you need to put a face to a name, especially in a business that is as private and important as money.”

That principle has Silbermann convinced that robo-advisory services, which are becoming increasingly well known, are not a serious competitor. These online services cannot provide that human connection that is important to both Silbermann and Stockman, the latter of whom always emphasizes the importance of seeing clients in person, even if that means driving to the farmhouse of a client who lives outside of the immediate Waterloo area.

“Being able to be there with these people, their farming families and companies, generates a whole other level of trust, integrity and rapport,” Silbermann says. “It does not concern me how the industry is changing.”

Silbermann also is confident that his age is not an obstacle in attracting new clients. The keys, he says, are to associate yourself with a successful brand, then develop a positive relationship with individuals who can speak on your behalf. The affiliation with Manulife, which has a visible presence in the Waterloo region, and to Stockman work to Silbermann’s benefit. Once he builds trust with young clients, he can appeal to their parents.

Silbermann’s office acts as a showcase for his clients’ skills. The flooring, which looks like reclaimed barnwood and is symbolic of Waterloo’s farming tradition, was installed by a client. A painting of bright yellow construction machinery set against a skyline of tall buildings, created by a client’s son, was commissioned by Silbermann; the painting represents the type of hard-working individuals who make up an important part of Silbermann’s client base.

Silbermann also speaks to university students about entrepreneurship on his own time. One of his goals is to help his alma mater grow its investment club. He is an avid reader of books on business, technology and foreign policy. He also is working toward a certified financial planner designation.

BUILD TRUST WITH YOUR CLIENTS

Millennial-generation financial advisors should consider both traditional and digital methods to establish a strong rapport with clients and prospects, according to Brandon Silbermann, an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont. Silbermann offers the following tips to help young advisors get off to a good start:

1. Develop a mobile-friendly website

A strong online brand can help you connect with prospects and show what they can expect regarding your skills and the services you would provide as their advisor. Because a growing proportion of online searches are conducted on mobile devices, your content must be easily viewed on smartphones and tablets.

2. Be honest

Taking a direct approach with clients about fees, products and other issues will help young advisors build trust with clients of all ages, Silbermann says.

3. Connect with established brands

Joining a large firm with a positive reputation or the practice of an experienced and trusted senior advisor can help you build trust.

Working with a known entity also provides instant credibility, says Silbermann: “It helps you get over the initial hurdles of being a younger person in the industry and managing money professionally.”

4. Build a network of mentors

Consider the type of business you want to run in the future and look for professionals in various industries who fit your vision. Silbermann has four mentors, each works in heavy construction, group benefits or portfolio management. And don’t be nervous about approaching established professionals. “If you have a good connection with them, they will share a lot about how they got to where they are.”

© 2016 Investment Executive. All rights reserved.

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This post was authored by Tessie Sanci and originally appeared here on Investment Executive

Increase Your Bottom Line Using a Corporate Intranet

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Employees are the backbone of any business. Not only is it important to hire the right people, it is equally as important that you are keeping your team engaged. Employee engagement, productivity levels, and technology are completely intertwined. The more engaged your employees are, the more productive and successful your business will be.

In today’s age, embracing technology is one of the best ways to reach your goals when it comes to employee engagement. Intranets promote productivity because they can help employees focus better, listen more effectively, and can eliminate unnecessary noise.

The world of intranet technology has been constantly changing and improving over the years.  The year 2016 is set to bring more innovation to intranet technology that will help organizations do more, and reach new heights. Increasing your employee engagement through the use of technology is just the tip of the iceberg to the overall success of your business.

The infographic below, courtesy of Jive Software, validates the need for a corporate intranet to drive employee engagement today. Lack of Employee Engagement is Killing Your Bottom Line Infographic

Why you NEED a professional website! | Part 1

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Recently, I have been looking for a new dentist, someone who practices closer to where we live, in order to avoid the stress of the Toronto commute. Some friends graciously provided me with the names of dentists in our area. You might not be surprised to learn that the first thing I did was “google” them. What might be surprising is that the professionalism and look of each of their websites influenced me more than I expected. I became annoyed at those who did not bother to have a website and was pleasantly surprised by those who took the time to set up a professional website to convey their business practices.

As a Financial Advisor, it is important for you too to communicate your business practices and to do so in a professional manner. One of the best ways to do this is through your website. While most Financial Advisors have websites, a large majority of them do not make it a priority to upgrade them in order to use them as a communication, marketing or prospecting tool. So take the time to look at your website to see if it is a reflection of you and if it is something you are proud to have your clients and prospects “Google”.

Here are the reasons why my clients tell me they have not made their websites a priority:

1)              “I don’t know where to start.” One of the most important aspects of a good website is to have it be a reflection of you, your uniqueness and your strengths. Discovering what you want to communicate about your business takes a little time and consideration but it is well worth it as it can become the cornerstone of every aspect of your business. Start at the beginning and write down what your clients should know about you.

2)              “I don’t have time to do that.” Most of the time, I find that it is not time that is the issue but priority. Make it a priority and carve out time to work on it.

3)              “It costs too much.” Some Financial Advisors’ firms provide access to a web platform and to a department that can upgrade their website at no cost. If your firm does not provide free access, the cost of a website has come down significantly. In addition, the return on investment of a website is so high it has now become simply “the cost of doing business”.

 

So, why should you have a professional website?

1)              Don’t ignore the fact that everybody “Googles”. It’s just a fact. Your audiences are Googling everything from menus, store hours to product reviews. You want potential clients to find you online and you want to make the best first impression.

2)              The Baby Boomers are redeeming assets and the next generations are investing. Finding clients who want to invest and grow their money is a must for your business. The Echo Boomers and Generation X’s and Y’s are reliant on social media and the Internet for information. It would be safe to say that a website will be the minimum necessity for your business in the years to come.

3)              You will gain credibility. Executed properly, a professional website will not only create a great impression of you and your business, but will give you more credibility. In this very competitive environment, credibility and confidence can make the difference between a client and a prospect.

4)              You can build relationships. Yes, it’s true. If you would like to see a good example of this, take a look at Coca Cola’s website. Their primary goal is to create a “feeling” and build relationships. You can do this by adding “non-financial” information such as community involvement, charitable endeavours, local events, and relevant trending topics.

5)              You will save time and money. Although it is true that there will be a cross section of your clients who will NOT go to your website for information, the trend will be towards more and more individuals accessing it to gain insight. Providing information to your clients and prospects takes time and your time is money. A website is up and running 24-7.

6)              You will improve your client servicing. There are most likely some types of questions that your clients often ask you… Or facts that they always want to have access to. Your website can provide these facts and can also answer FAQs as a value-add.

7)              You can use your website as a quarterback to your other social media accounts. The financial industry is slower to broadly adopt social media due to compliance and logistic issues. However, because many people are now using social media as a source of news and information, more wealth firms are starting to encourage their Advisors to sign-up to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Once on social media, Advisors can direct traffic to their websites for more information.

Next time: What You Need To Think About Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2

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About The Author

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at marielle.demers@sympatico.ca or 416 540 5158.

Increase Employee Engagement Using An Intranet

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What is all of this hype around employee engagement and why is it so important to your business?

Employee engagement is a vital element of a successful and productive workplace. As most leaders probably realize, there is a direct relationship between how engaged employees are in their jobs and the financial success of an organization.

There are many things that we could talk about in connection to employee engagement but these studies (among hundreds others) establish the relationship and speak to the importance of employee engagement and your businesses’ bottom line:

  • Research by Gallup has concluded that when employees are engaged at work they are more productive, and drive higher levels of profitability. Yet, according to the Gallup State of The Workplace report, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged, meaning the other 87% are not engaged at their work.
  • According to Dale Carnegie Training, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.
  • The costs of low engagement aren’t limited to turnover and recruitment. Gallup found that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year

Clearly, employee engagement matters. The drivers of employee engagement are complex; from involvement in decision making to effective internal communication, to being valued and involved. In this series of articles, we will look at how many organizations have explored how social and digital technologies can address the challenge of employee engagement.

In comes…. the Intranet.

The concept of the Intranet is a closed and secure network within the scope of a company or business which cannot be accessed from outside.   It is an internal website that allows employees to easily share and discuss information within their company or organization. An intranet is basically an internal database, which every employee can access, with different permissions for various roles. It is a place where employees are engaged in online collaborations, leaders actively participate in dialogue with their teams, and the interaction drives higher ROI.

One of the keys to success in business is to have a connected, integrated and involved employee base. When employees are disengaged, dislocated and misinformed it can lead to poor performance and unengaged workforce that ultimately impacts your bottom line. However, low employee engagement is not a simple problem to fix. But, what does this have to do with an Intranet?

Increasing employee engagement has become one of the central purposes for company’s implementing intranets because they help to solve the challenges of connectedness, integration, and involvement.  An employee intranet promotes employee engagement by offering tools that foster peer-to-peer collaboration and employee participation. The following diagram, courtesy of Worldwide Intranet Challenge, identifies key business reasons for having an intranet. At the core of this diagram is the assumption that the primary purpose of an intranet is to help employees do their job more effectively. From this central assumption, there are 8 key business drivers that can be addressed by having a corporate intranet.

 

Using Your Intranet to Boost Employee Engagement: Part 1

Toys for Tots a Huge Success!

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Toys for Tots!

Toys for Tots 2015 was a huge success! We love having the opportunity to help underprivileged kids!

Toys for Tots at Veriday!

Financial Advisors: 7 Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website

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Summary: The Internet is the first place most people look when they’re researching Financial Advisors. That’s why every Financial Advisor needs a sleek and informative website that is at once personalized and professional. Here are 7 simple tips for writing effective content for your website.

Include a Short Biography

Your website should include a short, well-written biography that lets prospective clients know a little bit about you. The key word here is Financial Advisors: Seven Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website“little”; don’t overdo it. Keep your bio short – around 300 words or so – so that readers don’t get bored or feel as if they’re reading your life’s story. When it comes to writing a biography, make sure to include your educational background, career highlights, areas of specialty, and any other information that you think might peak someone’s interest and make you stand out from the competition; but remember to keep it short and to the point, and make sure you don’t include any personal information that you would not be comfortable sharing on the Internet.

Your website is often the first point of contact for prospective clients, which you means you want to make a good first impression and put your best foot forward.

 

Keep It Simple

The best way to write effective content for your website is to keep it simple. Keep your sentences short and direct, and avoid using overly metaphorical or figurative language in your writing, as it may confuse your readers. Similarly, don’t use a lot of jargon on your website: write for a general, non-specialist audience. In other words, don’t alienate your audience.

Skimming and Scanning

Most Internet users only skim a website’s content, rather than reading each and every paragraph word for word. One of the biggest mistakes that Advisors are making is treating their web copy like print copy. In reality, web copy is read completely differently than print; only 16% of visitors read word by word. Organize your paragraphs around one central idea so that even if your readers are only skimming, they’ll be able to pick up on key points. Don’t take too long getting to the point either; just keep your writing simple and direct.

Look Like a Pro

You should include a high-quality, professionally-taken photograph on your website. “Selfies” are a definite no-no. Remember: your website is the number one place where people will go to find out about your business and the services you offer, so you’ll want to make sure that it looks professional. That means getting your headshot taken by a professional photographer, and including only high-quality, non-pixelated images on your webpage.

Do Some Research

If you’re not sure how you want your website to look, why not browse other Financial Advisors’ websites to get an idea of what’s out there? The more research you do, the better you’ll understand what kind of website you want to build. You’ll also get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Hire a Pro

Many people will hire a professional web designer, but they won’t hire a professional writer. Ever go to a website that looks great but is full of grammar and spelling mistakes and bad, incomprehensible writing? Bad writing and errors in spelling and grammar will only make you look incompetent and unprofessional. If you’re not up to writing effective content for your website – and be honest – make sure you hire someone who is.

Use Readable Fonts

This one seems obvious, but many people don’t follow this advice: when designing your website, make sure that you are using simple, readable fonts. That means don’t use frilly or overly elaborate fonts or anything “gimmicky.” Use a serious font that will reflect your professionalism, integrity and success.

Financial Services Trends to Watch in 2016: #FinTech & Robo-Advisor Disruption

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It is safe to say that the FinTech revolution is happening.

FinTech, put simply, is financial technology. It refers to the technology that is becoming increasingly important in the world of financial services, and is beginning to disrupt the way businesses operate. FinTech can include everything from mobile banking to modern compliance to digital investment advisory.

According to Accenture, global investment in financial services technology ventures has more than tripled during the last five years – from under $930 million in 2008 to more than 2.97 billion in 2013. The number of investments in FinTech is increasing year-over-year at an unbelievable rate. The growth of investment in FinTech signifies how technology and the Internet are changing the nature of financial services. From the ways that people pay their bills, to the way they use the Internet to invest their money.

So, what are some of the things that FinTech can accomplish for the general public?

  • Educate consumers to make smarter financial decisions
  • Digital investment advisory
  • Mobile payment
  • Provide compliance assistance
  • Enhance online shopping experience
  • Offer new avenues for loans
  • Speed payments
  • Investment management
  • Bank Technology
  • Protect assets from fraud
  • Crowd funding
  • Trading

In this article, we will focus on digital investment advisory, and what this means for traditional financial service institutions and advisory firms.

What does the #FinTech disruption mean for Financial Advisors?

The rise of FinTech is particularly significant for traditional financial services brands. We are seeing a rise of new companies offering technology-based programs that provide a complete suite of financial services and investment advice – also known as robo-advisors. This has lead to many questioning, why pay to see a Financial Advisor when you can get financial advice online for a fraction of the price?  And, why not question it? These platforms offer many sophisticated tools at a third or less of the price of a Financial Advisor.

Financial Institutions and Advisors need to ask themselves, what is in it for the client? Where can a Financial Advisor make the customer experience and human touch worth going with a traditional Advisor over a robo-advisor? With the #FinTech disruption in full swing, the online presence of Financial Enterprises and their Advisors has never been so important.

One of the best ways for traditional financial service companies to beat the robo-advisors is through developing an effective online presence and client experience.

The Future Investors

Almost 80 million Millennials will stand to inherit $30 trillion in personal wealth and grow their earnings in the coming years. Financial institutions and Advisors who have embraced the digital revolution will be the ones to thrive, and this is evident in research conducted by Fidelity. Fidelity’s research confirms that emerging affluent investors are nearly twice as likely as millionaires to find a new Financial Advisor through Internet research and more likely than millionaires to find a new Advisor through social media.

Fidelity’s research also finds that 58 percent of emerging affluent investors have a significantly more positive impression of Financial Advisors who have a good website (key word here is good.  There are many Advisor websites out there that are as non engaging as a business card). Thirty-eight percent of those investors follow their Advisor on social media sites and 30 percent say they are more likely to relate to a Financial Advisor who has a social media presence.

If the Financial Enterprise does not enable the Advisory firms to have an online presence in order to communicate with clients and prospects, the financial institution risks making their Advisors irrelevant because they are not connecting with the next generation of investors. An active and compliant online presence for Advisors is the human and real life touch that sets them apart from the robo-advisors: the ability to educate, interact and engage with prospects and clients.

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Financial service institutions have traditionally been slow to embrace digital marketing trends. In a regulated industry, it is important to make compliance and legal a part of your digital and social media teams so you have approval from the beginning of campaigns. But, the time has come for Financial Institutions to stop using compliance and regulations as an excuse to grow their brand and Advisors’ businesses.

2016 Business Growth for Financial Advisors

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This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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As Financial Advisors, we start another New Year full of possibility and hope. Most of us have probably already hit the ground running, focusing on accomplishing great things. We can increase our chances of success and growth, by setting our objectives and creating measurable goals to develop a robust plan that attracts the right clients and brings in new business.

Here are some of the objectives many top Financial Advisors have included in their 2016 marketing plan:

  • Visibility: Raise profile through sponsored events and other visibility tactics on a local (or regional) level
  • Awareness: Build share of mind with the right people through targeted communications
  • Credibility: Enhance reputation by consistently being seen in credible media outlets as a subject matter expert and financial professional
  • Thought Leadership: Build thought leadership status through publication of unique insights and forward-thinking concepts
  • Digital Presence: Improve search engine ranking and become more discoverable through social media use and a strong online presence

Goals, of course, should be specific and measurable. Look at the table below. Which set of goals do you think are easier to plan for, track progress against and achieve?

Vague Goals Specific and Measurable Goals
  • Host more events
  • Host two lunch-and-learns, six affinity dinners and two client appreciation events in 2016, generating a total of thirty new high-value prospective clients, resulting in ten new clients and $10 million in AUM
  • Grow my team
  • Attract two new people to the firm, younger professionals who have the potential to become partners over time, and start grooming them as part of the succession plan, through visibility in national industry trade publications and local business community (also work with a matching / recruiting service and explore opportunities at colleges with financial planning programs)
  • Expand social media activity
  • Establish a company Facebook page to supplement our company LinkedIn page, adding one new post per week to each while staying true to the social media guidelines suggested by our marketing consultant
  • Improve website effectiveness
  • Increase website traffic by 50%, drawing a total of 2,000 unique visitors per month to the home page, with 200 of those visitors watching our signature video and 100 per month entering their basic information before being allowed to download our special report and going into our automatic six-touch nurture campaign

 

REMEMBER THE 3 M’s

Aside from creating a tactical list of marketing activities, it can be helpful to take a step back and revisit the 3 M’s: your Market, your Message, and your Mediums. It’s always good practice to have a clear sense of these areas as it can help drive how you approach each of your marketing activities.

Your Market – Everything you do should center on your target market (and it’s okay to have 2-3 of them). Who are you targeting and why? Develop an Ideal Client Profile for each market segment and be specific – where do these people congregate, where do they get their news and information, who do they trust or distrust, what commonalities do they have, what keeps them up at night? Share your Ideal Client Profile with strategic partners and internal stakeholders. Post it where you and your team will see it on a daily basis.

Your Message – Revisit your value proposition and refine key messages. Have you added a robo advisor-component or another new service offering? How does it help people, who is it good for, why did you add this new element or option? Have you added staff or new capabilities? Why is this important? If you could only say one thing about your company’s value in a clear, concise sentence, what would it be – would it be short enough to be a 140 character tweet and memorable enough that others could repeat it without racking their brains? Once your have your primary value statement figured out, think hard about the top three benefits your clients enjoy as a result of working with you; those three benefits can form the three pillars of your positioning statement.

Your Mediums – What tactics and methodologies will you use to bring your message to your ideal target market(s)? Perhaps this is the year you step into a leadership role or begin writing that book (which can open all sorts of new doors and opportunities). Event marketing is almost always fruitful if a thoughtful approach is used to create the right mix – people, content, setting, purpose and tone. Relationship marketing could include a client survey to unearth hidden attitudes, assets and referrals. Credibility marketing might include appearing on television and radio stations then sharing those clips via your website, email and social media communications. Content marketing could hinge on writing a blog once or twice a month, which you’d publish on a company-branded site and buzz up on social media, mention in speeches, etc. Once you have generated a list of potential activities and tactics, prioritize what you will actually do based on the potential return-on-investment and swing your budget in that direction.

With robo advisors, eAdvisors, and other competitors nipping at your heels, there’s no time to waste. Hammer out a marketing plan while remembering the 3 M’s – you’ll be glad you did.

8 Web Design Trends That Will Take 2016 By Storm [Infographic]

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Web design has come along way since the early 1990s when the first web page (www) was created. It is quite impressive to see the amount of progression that has been achieved in the field in the last 25 years. Web design today is undoubtedly more advanced than ever.

As we start 2016, the design and development world is already showing signs of interesting and exciting things for designers and website visitors.   What are some of the web design trends that will take 2016 by storm?

The Infographic below, courtesy of Coastal Creative, rounds up what’s in store for web design trends in the next evolution of design.

8 Web Design Trends That Will Take 2016 By Storm [Infographic]

10 Things Your Intranet Could Be Doing For Employee Engagement

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Engaged employees will deliver more to your organization when they are equipped with the tools to do their job effectively. Employee intranets can help to create an experience that engages employees, fosters collaboration and productivity, encourages innovation, strengthens culture, and becomes an integral part of the employee experience and engagement.

Check out the insightful Infographic below, courtesy of Gagen MacDonald, that lists 10 things your intranet could be doing for your business right now. The Infographic, using case studies and statistics, elaborates on how Intranets can help to transform your business by:

  1. Engaging Employees
  2. Creating Employee Advocates
  3. Driving Collaboration
  4. Increasing Speed to Innovation
  5. Retaining Talent
  6. Reducing Information Overload
  7. Increasing Efficiency
  8. Enabling True Mobility
  9. Saving You Money
  10. Making Your Employees Happy

Employee Engagement & Intranets