Mistake 2: Financial Advisors Should Avoid Template Websites

No template websites

Financial Advisor Website Mistakes. Many industries have moved their promotions online to take advantage of inbound marketing opportunities, yet financial advisors are slow to follow, often due to compliance regulations. Regrettably, advisors under-utilize online strategies, including custom websites, to grow their firms.

Since 2004, I have been a Financial Advisor Coach helping clients get found on the internet!

I believe a financial advisor website is the foundation of your business. If it’s not built right, it can hurt your reputation and lead to low returns on investment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a registered investment advisor or a fee-only financial planner, the quality of your custom website will determine how successful you are at attracting new clients and growing your business.

What kind of website should financial advisors use?

Custom or template? Definitely not template! This is mistake #2 in my series focusing on mistakes advisors make in their marketing. I believe advisors should avoid template websites.

A template website combined with “Mistake # 1: No Target Market,” makes for a very poor first impression. The type of website I’m referring to is the kind that everyone is accustomed to seeing with a flash banner, canned content, and standard color and design choices.

All businesses should have a website because it is the best way to communicate with their clients and attract new ones. However, not all websites are created equal—some are much better than others in design and functionality.

To make sure that your site is high-quality and professional looking, you must find an expert web designer who knows their stuff when it comes time for them to build your site from scratch or update an existing one so that it looks modern and attractive on any device.

As you can probably tell, I do not like template websites. I’m a big believer in using personality and quality design when planning a website. Here are ten reasons why I do not like template websites:

10 financial advisor website mistakes to avoid

10 financial advisor website mistakes

1. One size fits all – Generic design

A template site is designed to be quick and easy for the advisor to get up and running in their practice. This type of website is designed to “sell” advisors on ease and simplicity by offering canned articles, videos, calculators, and newsletters. This type of site is not designed for selling investment management services and does not do a good job of engaging with prospective clients.

Financial advisors have different needs, goals, target audiences, budgets, strengths, and weaknesses. All these factors make up you are as an advisor and how you do business. You want that uniqueness to face your potential clients through a custom website customized to your business structure and branding.

2. Financial Advisor Website Mistakes – No ambiance

A template site will not incorporate your firm personality, values, and unique value proposition. The template designer has never sat down with you to discuss your goals, strategic advantage, target market, and call to action. It’s a convenient option that is quickly passed off to your compliance department for approval.

There’s an old saying that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and there’s no more accurate statement in the business world.

In fact, for many companies, the first impression is their only chance to make an impression on their customers—and that first encounter will often be harmful if the company has a poor website design.
Most consumers search for products and services through their mobile phones. You are losing business if your site does not stand out or directly respond to their needs.

3. Poor branding in your template design

I don’t believe in using clip art or template graphics because they give off a bad vibe and don’t instill confidence. Many of these template sites are built with place holders for logos and don’t have custom fonts available to distinguish the brand.

Poor branding is a problem that many financial advisors don’t think about. Branding is the sum total of your company’s story and how it’s told. It’s about communicating who you are and what you do to the world around you.

You want an online presence that offers your clients an experience with your brand. Your images, logos, fonts, and color palette should evoke a positive emotional response from clients.

4. Financial Advisor Website Mistakes – No search engine optimization (SEO)

Many developers promise SEO but don’t deliver. Without optimization, your target clients will never find you on the Internet. Your site will stagnate with the only visitors being your clients.

I cannot emphasize this enough – without proper local and online SEO tactics, you will not be found by your target market. Google and other search engines will not know how to rank or categorize you, and your organic traffic and conversion rate will be dismal.

For example, if you are a financial advisor specializing in working with women, it would make sense to include keywords like “financial advisor for women” or “working with women” on your website because those terms will attract female clients find you.

In addition, these keywords will help you get higher rankings on Google so more people can find your site when searching for advice related to working with women.

5. Template websites have confusing code

Because these sites are intended for use by the lowest common denominator, to be used by anyone and everyone, they have a plethora of bad code and poorly formed html on the back end that lessens the ability of the search engines to figure out what your site is all about.

This also means they do not have easy-to-use content management systems (CMS). So if you or your team cannot quickly make an update, but must rely on a programmer every time you have to update your hours, you will be frustrated with your site and likely let it sit there dormant and without accurate information. You want something you can update from anywhere in the world at any time.

6.  Financial Advisor Website Mistakes – High long-term cost of financial advisor websites

In the financial services industry, advisors continue to pay monthly for their template sites, for many years, with costs adding up to thousands of dollars. Oftentimes, advisors get up and running with their first website and then due to inertia forget to plan for a custom site resulting in high costs and a poor impression for any potential clients who visit the site.

The high cost of a template website is not just the initial fee. You will also have to pay for the maintenance of the site, which can be pretty expensive. If a template has been designed with outdated technology, it may not be able to run smoothly on modern browsers or mobile devices. This will mean that you have to pay for upgrades and fixes regularly. If these updates fall behind, your search engine ranking and customer engagement on your site could suffer.

A custom solution is often more cost-effective because it meets your needs and can be easily updated with flexible and modern infrastructure. And you pay for the site once, not forever!

7. Image rights – be very careful with images

I’ve seen problems with sites not having rights to use images in their designs, which has resulted in lawsuits and major hassles. With a custom site done by a professional developer, all images are legally acquired and won’t land the advisor in hot water months or years later.

As a financial advisor, you should understand the legal implications of using images on your website. To be clear, this does not mean you need to hire an attorney to comb over every line of code on your website and ensure it’s airtight. Instead, the most important thing is that you are aware of what types of images are available and how they might present problems in the future.
Clients want to see images of happy faces on your website. A quality web designer will use stock photo services that relate to your target demographic and enhance your branding.

8. Financial Advisor Website Mistakes – Duplicate Content runs rampant on financial advisor websites

Because of all the canned content, the search engines don’t look favorably on template sites. Think of this way: if thousands of sites exist with the same exact information, what’s the benefit to the visitor?

Duplicate content receives a poor ranking from Google. The web crawlers that index your website will rank you lower because your site uses images, framing, code, and content replicated on other sites with more authority.
Not to mention your users will recognize it as generic and likely not reach out to contact your team.

9. Not mobile friendly

With the advent of mobile devices, most internet users now access websites through their phones. That’s why your financial advisor website must be mobile-friendly.

If you don’t have a responsive site, your visitors will have to zoom in and click around every time they visit your site on their phone or tablet—a huge frustration that could be avoided with a properly designed custom website.

It’s also essential to ensure that each page on your website functions properly on all devices. For example, if you have a contact page with a form for people to fill out and submit questions or comments about financial planning, it needs to work across all screen sizes, so no one gets frustrated trying to submit their information on something small like an iPhone screen.

10. Problems with technology

Many template sites are just plain old and lack current technology that can allow advisors to integrate newer and more productive marketing strategies right into their websites.

At one time I had three clients that all had the same exact template design with happy people gazing at each other. The only distinctive feature was the practice name (in standard font) at the top of the banner. Thankfully they were in three different parts of the country so they weren’t competing with each other.

Don’t get me wrong; I think a template site can be a good choice if you want to get a site together quickly and efficiently. But they should be considered a short-term solution until you plan to build a custom site down the road.

Financial Advisor Websites Should be Built from Scratch

When starting a website for your financial advisory business, you want to create a website that is unique and tailored to your business.

If you use a template site, you will miss out on the opportunity to make sure everything about the design of your website is perfectly in line with how you want to portray yourself as an advisor.

Furthermore, by using a template site, it’s likely that there are already hundreds or thousands of other advisers who have websites built from the same base code as yours (or very similar). This means that visitors may get confused about what makes your firm different from other companies offering similar services.

A custom-built site also looks more professional than one copied and pasted from somewhere else on the web, which provides confidence and trustworthiness when users visit the page.

You need a modern solution that integrates mobile-ready designs, social media integration, the ability to upgrade with AI tools, and enhancements that personalize the user experience. These options are only possible with a modern, customized website built by a professional.


If done correctly, your website can serve as your brand foundation. If you’d like to discuss your plan for branding your financial advisor practice using your website, please contact me for a consultation.

I have years of experience working with financial advisors, including how to expand their brand image into the online world. Together, we can craft an outline with goals for what your presence should achieve – including how best to leverage a custom website.

About Suzanne Muusers