Financial advisor case studies: the proof is in the pudding

5 steps to writing a financial advisor case study

If you’re looking for a new way to market your financial advisory practice, please consider writing financial advisor case studies. Although they’re often overlooked as marketing tools, they’re an effective way to give prospects an idea of the results you can bring to the table as a finance career professional.

In the financial services industry — at least in the U.S. — you can’t use testimonials (although that may be changing depending upon the size of your firm and your desire to use branding to attract clients).. So, case studies are great alternatives. Don’t worry if you’ve never written one before. We’re going to give you an overview of everything you need to know. Check out the guide below.

Why Should I Write a Case Study?

Case studies have a whole host of benefits. These include:

  1. Connecting with the emotional side of the brain. When it comes to making decisions, emotions often trump logic; case studies show prospects how you changed other people’s lives and how you can change theirs.
  2. Highlighting how you work. Case studies highlight the process and steps you take to help your clients.
  3. Adapting to your niche. You can customize your case studies based on your niche. If you specialize in retirement planning, your case studies can reflect that.

How Do I Write a Case Study?

Figure Out Your Objective

Before you start writing, you need to decide what each case study’s aim will be. All case studies should show the value of your service. But each case study can focus on a specific aspect.

For your first case study, think of an objective through the eyes of your client. What did your client hope to accomplish by working with you?

Establish a Medium

The term “case study” is thrown around generously in academic circles. Because of that, case studies have earned a not-so-good reputation. But case studies aren’t limited to the dull, text-heavy documents we might imagine.

Don’t be afraid to use different media for each case study. For example, you can create an infographic, a YouTube video, an article, or a combination of several media.

Find the Right Candidates

Writing about one of your previous achievements isn’t as simple as choosing a client and telling a story. You’ll need permission, a plan, and insights from your client.

Ask for Permission

Even if your client chose to work with you and avail of your services, that doesn’t mean you can publish case studies about them. You’ll need to contact them and ask for their approval; furthermore, you may need to change the names in your case study to protect your client’s privacy.

When you reach out to your client to ask for permission, be clear about the case study’s objectives and the medium in which you’ll publish it.

Send a Case Study Release Form

After your client approves your case study and gives you permission, you’ll need to send them a release form.

A case study release form formalizes the permission that the client is giving to you. It’s proof that you’re allowed to share their story publicly.

Ask the Right Questions

Before you reach out to your client to ask for their insights (whether by call, email, etc.), you’ll need to set yourself up for success. A good case study is focused; you’ll need to have an idea of what kind of info you’re hoping to get. Here are some broad questions you may ask your client:

  • What are your goals?
  • What challenges did you face before working with me?
  • What made you choose to work with me over my competitors?
  • How did you benefit from my service?

The goal of the interview is to gain insights from your client. You can’t gain deep insights if you ask “yes” or “no” questions; rather, it would be best to ask open-ended questions paired with follow-up questions.

The questions listed above are some general questions you’d like your client to answer. If you’d like to create a comprehensive case study, you’ll need to dig deeper into the specifics. Below, we’re going to list a few specific questions that you may opt to ask during your interview.

Problems & Pain Points

To come up with a compelling case study, you’re going to need context. The context will help match your client’s needs with your services. So, you may consider asking questions such as the following:

  • What challenges and objectives pushed you into looking for a solution?
  • What do you think would have happened if you didn’t find a solution?
  • Did you explore or try other solutions or services before working with me? If so, what happened? Did things work out?

The Decision Process

After identifying what the client was struggling with before they reached out to you, you’ll need to explore the client’s thought process and how they came to conclude that working with you is in their best interest. Including this in a case study will help potential clients with their decision-making process. Here are some questions you may ask:

  • How did you find out about my service?
  • Who was involved in your selection process?
  • What were the most critical factors you looked out for when considering your options?

The Case Study Results

To tie everything together, you’re going to want to lay out the results. Show how you were able to help the client. As much as possible, tie things back to the client’s initial goals and objectives. Were you able to help the client achieve their goals? Are there any solid figures the client can give you that, in a measurable way, show that you’ve helped?

Case Study Format

See below for a specific format in which to write your case study.

How Do I Remain Compliant?

As you write your case studies, you’ll want to remain compliant with regulations. In the financial industry, there are several considerations you need to keep in mind.

First, you’ll need to keep in mind Rule 206(4) – 1 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. This rule restricts what you can say in your marketing materials. For example, you aren’t allowed to market investments in a way that says that future clients will experience the same results as the subjects of your case studies.

Luckily, in our profession, we sell a process and a relationship rather than a security. As long as your case studies focus on the process and benefits of your process, you’re compliant with regulations.

When in doubt (and even if you think you’re sure), it’s best to consult with the relevant regulatory boards or authorities in your area about the rules and regulations you need to follow in order to remain compliant.

Using Financial Advisor Case Studies

I coach my financial advisor clients to use case studies as a way to explain the specifics of how they work with their own clients. This shows HOW you help clients achieve their financial goals. It’s also a great way to attract your niche ideal clients to your website.

Use Case Studies to attract similar clients

Case studies are also useful to use in the conversations you have with clients, prospects, and centers of influence because they help to make what you do “real” rather than hypothetical. When we hear a story, we can relate to the details.

Firm up your Financial Advisor target market

Case studies can be helpful to demonstrate the type of niche clients you work with. For example, if you work with widowed women, divorced women, and single women, having a case study for each can demonstrate the issues your clients face, and the end results you help them achieve. Case studies are very useful in helping you attract more of these same clients.

Since there are many so many different types of clients and potential case studies, I recommend that you create three example studies to show three different situations depending upon the client, their profession, their family situation, and their investments.

How to write a Financial Advisor Case Study in 5 steps:

1. Case Study Title

Example Case Study Title:

Case Study- Jim – late 40’s entrepreneur and small business owner grossing $5 Million annually. Married, two adult children

Begin with the person’s name and their position and/or their financial challenge. (If writing a blog, be aware of how you title the post as you can attract search engine traffic based on the key words in the title).

2. Case Study Confidentiality

Make sure to note in the article that you have permission to publish the case study and that you have changed your clients’ names to protect their privacy.

3. Case Study Situation

Explain their situation when they first met with you, prior to becoming a client. Where were their assets invested at the time? Were they over-leveraged in any way? What dangers did you see?

4. Case Study Process

Explain the process you took them through to get them on track. How did you reallocate their assets? What programs or investment vehicles did you encourage them to utilize? Where were they open to risk? How did you advise them to mitigate the risk?

5. Case Study Results

Explain the results of the engagement and the ongoing planning and investing you will be doing for the client. What had to happen for this client to be successful while working with you? How was this client’s life better as a result of working with you? What are your follow up procedures to make sure s/he stays on track?

Here’s the format:





Use Case Studies on your website!

I hope you take action and create case studies for your brochure and/or website. What I want for you is a business where you are effortlessly attracting your ideal clients, those who appreciate what you do for them and happily pay your fees and take your advice. Since you can’t use testimonials to get leads, writing case studies can help you differentiate your firm!

Final Thoughts

Many financial advisors are overlooking case studies as an effective way to grow their practice. Luckily, you now have everything you need to write your first case study and show potential clients real evidence about how you’re helping your current clients achieve their goals.

About Suzanne Muusers

4 Responses to “Financial advisor case studies: the proof is in the pudding”

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  1. I use Case Studies with my Leadership and Career Coaching clients all the time. It allows me to explain my Coaching process and to do it in a way that is authentic. There’s nothing like a real story to engage people. They can feel the honesty when you talk about someone who is real.

  2. Donna, when you tell a story, it’s an example of reality. When people listen to stories, they are more engaged and able to “get it.”

  3. Neil Rhein says:

    Great advice Suzanne. People respond to stories, rather than slogans or sales pitches. If a prospect can see some similarities between the person in the case study and themselves, the story will resonate. Of course, many advisers struggle with the actual writing of the case study, which may be one reason we don’t see more of them out there.

  4. Neil, you are right about advisers struggling to write case studies. In many ways, advisers are in the stone ages with their marketing and promotions. Thanks for stopping by. Suzanne