Should financial advisors create a personal or business brand?

Should financial advisors create a personal brand or a business brand?

Should financial advisors create a personal or business brand?


For financial advisors, building a business brand may be the better choice.

As an Executive Coach for financial advisors, Branding is one of they topics I most enjoy working on with my clients. Financial planning and investment management can be very intangible products to sell to your prospective clients.  Branding, however, can help to make what you do into a tangible product, depending upon how your choose to brand yourself.

As a financial advisor, you have the option to (1) create a personal brand for you as the advisor or for your (2) company as a business brand.

One of the most significant considerations in branding is your company’s name.

Choosing your company’s name is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make when starting out your business. It lays the foundation and tone for all your future branding activities.

For better or for worse, your business’s name creates a lasting impression on your potential clients. Therefore, naming your company shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Although it is possible to change your company’s name after filing your legal paperwork, it’s much easier and more convenient to choose the right name from the very start.

Today, we’re going to discuss why your financial advisory firm’s branding generally shouldn’t revolve after your own name and also the rare instances in which you may want to take on personal branding. Check it out below.

What Is a Brand?

Although the term “brand” is widely used, many people have trouble defining the concept clearly in their minds. The way the meaning of the word has changed over time doesn’t make this any easier. So, we’re going to start by defining what a brand is in terms of your business.

Cattle ranchers, over a century ago, utilized branding irons to indicate which animals belonged to them. As the cattle made their way through the plains to Chicago slaughterhouses, it was easy to figure out which ranches they were from due to the branding.

Clearly, the meaning of the term “brand” has changed in today’s landscape. Simply put, your brand is what your potential clients think of when they hear your brand name. It’s comprised of everything the public thinks they know about your name brand offering.

Why Is Branding Important?

You can think of your brand as the source of a promise to your client. If you’re touting yourself as an expert in retirement planning, your brand has to live up to that. Therefore, it’s crucial to allot some time to research, define, and build your brand.

As a financial advisor coach, I help clients develop their marketing plan. Your brand will serve as the guide to understanding the purpose of your primary business objectives. Then, you can align your strategy with those objectives.

In developing a strategic marketing plan, your brand serves as a guide to understanding the purpose of your critical business objectives. It enables you to align the plan with those objectives.

As a financial advisor going independent, your company’s name will be loaded with meaning, whether intended or not. Although the quality of your financial planning is a better measure of your company’s potential, it’s a fact that our own individual names carry meaning beyond our control.

For example, think of the name Sarah. When you hear the name, you probably have an idea in your head of how our hypothetical Sarah is like, whether that idea is rational or not. The same can go for the business names we choose.

Research shows that firms owned by and named after their founders are 21% less valuable than others. Since the name of your business is solely your decision, you have the power to make or break your business before even beginning to accept clients.

Although your services may be the best on the market, a bad business name with negative associations can deter clients. Likewise, a good name can improve your perceived credibility.

In general, there are two ways people can go about creating branding:

1. Personal Branding

First, people can create a brand identity surrounding their own name. A successful example would be the luxury fashion company Versace, named after its founder Gianni Versace.

2. Business Branding

On the other hand, you can create a brand identity surrounding a completely different entity name. Some famous examples include Nike and Facebook.

financial advisors business brand

Why You Should Create a Business Brand?

For financial advisors, it is more common and more appropriate to create a branding identity separate from your own name. Let’s discuss the situations wherein you’d want to build business branding, rather than personal branding.

1. You Want Privacy

If you’d rather not be at the forefront of your marketing campaign, do not use your name. Many entrepreneurs prefer creating separate company names simply because they do not wish to be the face of the company.

This is something you should honestly consider and think through. If you’re feeling hesitant being the face of your brand, you more than likely won’t be a perfect one.

2. You Want to Scale Your Firm

If you create your branding around yourself, it may be more challenging to scale your firm and bring on new team members in the future.

Creating a business brand rather than a personal brand will allow you to train a team that will run the company on its own. Also, creating a personal brand will make succession planning more difficult. We’ll get to that later on.

3. Your Target Market Is More Comfortable Hiring a Business

If you’ve laid out your business plan properly, you should have a firm grasp on who your target market is. Think about what they want when looking for financial advisors. Are they more likely to trust a firm with its own name or a firm named after a single person? Naming your firm after yourself may put you at a disadvantage. Your clients may think that you’re less trustworthy and experienced compared to other firms. If you’re a viral superstar, maybe you can get away with personal branding.

Think of it this way. Pretend you’re at your local mall. Would you instead go shopping for shoes at Nike or a shop named “John’s Shoe Store?”

4. You Want to Reserve Your Personal Brand

It’s never too late to start a new business. Let’s say your primary source of income is your financial consulting business. However, you want to pursue fashion blogging as a profitable side hustle in the future.

If you brand both your financial advisory firm and your fashion blog under your name, you people may think you’re a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Therefore, you may conclude that its best to reserve personal branding for your blog and be closely associated with it. Then, distance yourself from your financial planning firm through business branding.

Branding and Succession Planning for Financial Advisors

Succession Planning

Being content with running a one-person show is entirely acceptable. In fact, many financial advisors can become highly successful and find great fulfillment working on their own. Others, however, may have dreams of scaling their firm into something bigger than themselves.

Or, you may wish to sell the business at one point and enjoy retirement. This becomes much more difficult when the firm is inextricably linked to your name. You’ll essentially be weeding out and discouraging qualified partners or buyers who don’t like buying firms they may not feel ownership over.

Even if you do close a profitable sale, your name and your reputation will be at the mercy of the firm’s new owner. Imagine someone else running your businesses (named after yourself) into the ground.

Let’s say you don’t want to sell the business. What happens when, for whatever reason, your personal reputation takes a hit? Your self-branded company will take a hit as well. There’s a reason the terms reputation and name are synonymous.

Putting your name on your firm can also unnecessarily complicate your drive for new customers. Google searches are one of the primary drivers of business traffic in this day and age. If you have a name that is difficult to spell, you probably don’t want to name your firm after yourself.

On the other hand, you may have a plain and simple name. In this case, naming your business after yourself may not allow you to stand out enough nor tell potential clients about your business and what you do.

Removing Limits

You may think that you won’t be able to make a name for yourself if you don’t name your company after yourself. Understandably, this thought has led many professionals to worry about their firm overwhelming and surpassing their own public perception. In truth, if your business is successful, your name will be made known.

Take Steve Jobs as an example. He didn’t name his ultra-successful tech company after himself. He called his company Apple. And yet, you know exactly who Steve Jobs is even without having to Google him. It was the success of his company that made him stand out, not having to print his name on his products.

In recent years, more and more companies have begun to forego descriptive names in favor of abstract ones. Although these names may not have a personal touch, they obtain meaning and popularity through the success of their services.

It’s a smart way to make your services stand on their own, without risking damaging or potentially unfair associations with its owner. If Henry Ford had a public scandal, you can be sure that Ford stock prices would have plummeted.

Or, consider Edsel Ford, the father of Henry Ford. Instead of being remembered for his decades spent at the helm of the highly successful Ford Motor Company, he is remembered for one of the auto industry’s biggest flops. Until today, the connection between his name and his shortcomings is, unfortunately, impossible to erase at this point.

By removing your name from your firm, you allow your firm to be known as a separate entity. That means that if you get into any personal public trouble, it won’t affect the perception of your business and vice versa.

The Other Side of the Coin

In fairness, there are certainly a few benefits of branding your firm after yourself. You’re taking charge of your own reputation by linking your business and front-facing persona explicitly. This allows you to build up your reputation as you see fit. It gives you full responsibility for your reputation, for better or for worse.

Also, you’re showing your clients that there’s a lower chance of you leaving the firm for another opportunity. After all, the firm is named after you. So, your clients will understand that you may want to take care of it for as long as you can. This can be great for attracting long-term clients.

As mentioned earlier, however, creating a personal brand around your firm has significant drawbacks. Your name will be indelibly attached to your business in the eyes of the public.

As a final example, take Martha Stewart. The Martha Stewart Living magazine found itself in trouble after Martha Stewart’s 2004 conviction on insider trading charges.

The Bottom Line

Like every other decision surrounding your business, you get the final say when it comes to building your firm’s brand. For financial advisors, however, it may be best to favor a business brand rather than a personal brand. Regardless, you now have all the facts to help you make a more informed decision. Good luck!


Pay-per-click advertising isn’t worth it for financial advisors

pay per click advertising not worth it financial advisors

Why pay-per-click advertising isn’t worth it for financial advisors

Financial advisors are better off focusing on other business-building methods.

A big part of a financial advisor’s day is working on business development. More business means a more significant bottom line. No matter how big your firm is, there are always more referrals to ask for, more accounts to get, and more clients to prospect.

With that said, the sky is the limit when it comes to the growth of your business as a financial advisor. However, as busy professionals, financial advisors may feel like they only have so many hours in each day.

Therefore, it is best to utilize the business-building methods that provide the greatest reward for the lowest initial investment, whether it is in the form of time, money, or other resources.

In my work as a financial advisor coach, I have come across many advisors who are learning about inbound marketing and digital marketing. Many do not know the difference and often hire “experts” to help them attract traffic to their websites using pay per click advertising with google.

Pay-per-click advertising has become a popular method of advertising in the digital age. But, is it worth it for financial advisors to use this method in their Business Plan? Let’s find out.

What are paid traffic sources for financial advisors?

Paid traffic simply refers to any website traffic that you pay to obtain. As long as you exchange money for website traffic, you are receiving paid traffic.

There are two popular forms of paid advertising: pay-per-click traffic and paid advertisements. Today, we’ll be focusing our discussion on pay-per-click advertising.

What Is Pay-per-Click Advertising?

The majority of pay-per-click advertising on the internet occurs through the Google Ads platform. Therefore, we are going to discuss pay-per-click advertising in the context of Google Ads.

Put simply, Google Ads is Google’s paid advertising service. Ads that occur on the top or sides of website articles and Google’s search results are commonly paid for by businesses. What makes the pay-per-click model unique, however, is that companies only need to pay for their ads when someone clicks on the advertisement.

In theory, pay-per-click advertising may sound like a cost-efficient way to grow your business. However, it may not be the best way for independent financial advisors to grow their businesses.

Financial advisors – choosing between Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic

There are many ways to attract potential ways to your website. You can drive traffic to a website through paid methods. Or, you can organically grow your audience through search engine optimization (SEO).

There are many tasks involved in improving your website in terms of search engine optimization. These tasks include writing content, creating backlinks, guest posting, working on on-page SEO, and much more.

It may take you a few months to see new traffic coming from your SEO efforts. However, once traffic begins to roll in, the results tend to remain constant and tend to grow at a steady pace.

In the long run, organic traffic brought in by search engine optimization costs less than paid advertising methods. However, it is not so simple to implement an effective SEO strategy.

Is Pay-per-click Advertising For You?

is pay per click advertising for you?

In some unique cases, pay-per-click advertising may work as a useful supplement to your search engine optimization efforts. In most other cases, however, pay-per-click advertising is simply not likely to bring you the return on investment for which you were hoping.

The following are scenarios wherein pay-per-click advertising is simply not worth the cost.

1. If You Are Building a Foundation For Your Online Presence

As its name implies, pay-per-click advertising will require you to set aside a budget for advertising. This means that as soon as your ad ends due to a depleted budget, your advertisement completely disappears.

SEO, on the other hand, builds and accumulates over time. So, you will always have the fruit (website traffic) of your labor that you invested so much time in.

2. If You Are Competing With Larger Businesses

Many forms of pay-per-click advertising work according to a bidding system. This means that your advertising success is not only dependent on your ads and budget, but also the ads and budget of your competitors.

There is only so much space or advertising real estate available on the internet. Therefore, you’ll mostly have to bid high to obtain the ideal advertising space.

3. If Your Industry Has Strict Advertising Rules

Pay-per-click advertising platforms prohibit certain products and services. Even though financial advisors may advertise on pay-per-click platforms, you may be restricted in terms of what you can say in your ads. Also, many countries have their own policies regarding paid advertising.

When planning your advertising campaign, it pays to review all advertising policies. Policies in your country may differ, as well as policies on the advertising platform you choose to use.

4. If You Cannot Actively Manage Your Campaign

Managing any advertising campaign requires time and energy. Although you could choose to set and forget your campaign, you’ll only be able to maximize results through active management. If you work independently and do not have a team member available who can actively monitor and adjust your ads daily, pay-per-click advertising may not be for you.

A personal story about pay per click advertising: when I was starting out as a newbie Career and Executive Coach back in 2004, I created a Business Plan system for the coaching industry and I used Pay Per Click advertising to get traffic to the landing page. What I found what that I was competing against myself. I would go to google search, type in Business Plan for Executive Coaches, and there was my advertisement, and there was my organic landing page right underneath. I spent some money learning that Pay Per Click was not for me.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Ads

financial advisors shouldn't use google ads

In the previous section, we discussed the various situations in which pay-per-click advertising is not ideal. Now, we’re going to touch on the multiple reasons why pay-per-click advertising via Google Ads may not be suitable for financial advisors when developing their Marketing and Prospecting Strategies.

1. You Pay for Clicks

On the surface, paying for clicks may sound like an advantage. You aren’t paying for any advertisement views that do not result in a click. However, rates have increased substantially in recent years.

Nowadays, a startup or new business is dropping at least $5 per click just to get people to visit their site. If that’s already expensive for small businesses, imagine the financial impact it will have on your budget as an independent financial advisor. 

Also, clicks do not even guarantee that the potential customers are going to purchase your services. Whenever someone clicks on your advertisement, you have to pay Google. This is regardless of whether that person became your customer or not.

This becomes a problem, especially when your ads attract visitors who simply enjoy browsing the web without having any intention whatsoever of spending money on your services.

2. Difficult to Compete With Big Companies

We’ve already touched upon this point earlier, but it deserves further explanation. Most small businesses and startups cannot compete with larger companies with large advertising budgets because pay-per-click ads are expensive.

Pay-per-click advertising was useful for small businesses many years ago. Back then, anyone could launch a campaign and pull in high-quality traffic at a fair price. As mentioned earlier, however, pay-per-click advertising has become much more expensive. This means that smaller companies will have great difficulty competing with larger organizations.

Thanks to the consistent cash flow of larger companies, they can drop hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on a pay-per-click advertising campaign. They have the time and the resources to do just that. This means that by the time a newly budding business launches, all of the related and relevant keywords have already been taken.

Take a skincare startup, for example. Let’s say that this skincare startup provides high-quality products and has got its marketing down perfectly. However, larger companies such as Estee Lauder and L’Oreal have already bought ad space for terms such as “moisturizer.”

This means that our hypothetical skincare startup will need to spend around $5 to $7 per click for that term. Remember, it isn’t even guaranteed that a click will convert into a sale.

3. Limited Number of Characters

When running pay-per-click advertisements that show up on Google’s search results, you are allotted only a certain number of characters. You can have up to 25 characters in the headline, 35 each in the two lines of text, and 35 more in the display URL. A character limit isn’t the biggest dealbreaker but can make running ads much more difficult.

Aside from all the other tasks you have to attend to, you are now forced to brainstorm an attention-grabbing headline, keywords, ad copy, and a compelling call-to-action. That’s difficult enough, but being restricted by a character limit makes it even more difficult.

Depending on how you wish to portray yourself as a financial advisor, it may become challenging to fit in everything you want to say into the character limit. This can prove to be a significant problem if your business has a long name or if you wish to target several keywords.

Put simply, you need to be able to write succinctly and concisely if you want to get the most out of pay-per-click advertising on Google.

4. Mistakes Can Be Deadly

We’re all human and are all prone to making mistakes now and then. However, most errors tend to have consequences we must face.

For example, has there been a time in your life when you left the faucet running? Pay-per-click advertising is very much like our proverbial faucet. If you’ve forgotten to turn off an ad campaign or if you haven’t set a cap based on your budget, you can quickly burn through thousands of dollars in advertising expenses.

The problems do not stop here. Let’s say you made an error linking the pay-per-click campaign to your website’s landing page. For some reason, there’s a typo in the linked URL. Google is going to penalize you. You may be paying for clicks that lead to the wrong page! A simple oversight like this can cost you a lot of money.

5. It Doesn’t Fit Your Niche

You may be a financial advisor that is happy to work with every demographic. Great! However, most of my financial advisors clients tend to create a niche in the market for them to specialize in. Some financial advisor clients specialize in unique target markets to help them maximize inbound marketing to their websites.

Just because you’re advertising on the largest search engine doesn’t mean your target audience is going to find you.

Let’s say you’re a landscaper who’s confident in doing everything from cleaning up a yard, planting trees, and removing snow. A potential customer may simply search for “lawn care services” and get search results that do not reflect all of the services you may offer.

For particular niches, Google’s pay-per-click platform simply isn’t a good choice. You may consider growing your business through other means, such as search engine optimization.

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to expand your reach and attract new clients is to ask for referrals from your current satisfied clients. However, that may not be enough.

If you believe it is time to ramp up your marketing efforts, you may need to think outside the box and explore emerging methods of advertising. Pay-per-click advertising is an option, but only in specific cases. More often than not, independent financial advisors will have better luck through other inbound marketing mediums.

I believe that pay-per-click advertising is not the best course of action for financial advisors. There are many better ways to scale your client base, such as implementing an effective SEO strategy. Although, that is a topic for another day.

However, I encourage you, the reader, to do your due diligence regarding the best way to grow your business. Besides, nobody knows your business better than you.

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