Building a marketing strategy – the ultimate guide for financial advisers

Working in the tightly regulated financial services industry means that financial advisory firms are more limited than most when it comes to promoting their business. “The value of your investments may fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount you invested” is perhaps not the most winning phrase for converting clients to your cause.

That’s not to say, however, that it can’t be done. For over 20 years, TOMD has worked with thousands of financial services firms to boost their marketing to the next level, working closely with their compliance departments to produce winning campaigns that nonetheless firmly adhere to the rules and regulations that come as part and parcel of working within this sector.

Drawing on our decades of experience, then, we hope that this guide to building a marketing strategy helps financial advisers looking to breathe new life into their marketing in 2022 or offers some ideas to those just starting out.

What are the most effective marketing tools for financial advisers?

When building your marketing strategy for the year ahead, these should be some of the biggest tools in your arsenal:

  1. An understanding of your target audience
  2. A website that effectively represents your brand
  3. SMART objectives
  4. The right social media platforms
  5. Positive reviews
  6. Thought leadership content
  7. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  8. Marketing experts who understand your industry

Don’t be overwhelmed – just a few of these tools could help you pave the way to marketing success in 2022.

  1. An understanding of your target audience

The type of client you wish to attract (which may be the same or different to those you already work with) must form a crucial part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t know who you are targeting, it then follows that you won’t know which marketing channels to use to reach them, the content that will engage them, or even the language and tone of voice to use.

As an example, let’s look at the differences in the marketing strategies you might employ for high-net-worth clients as opposed to mass affluent consumers. We’ll start off by assessing the characteristics of each group. Data for these characteristics comes from LV= research and a 2020 research paper from the Resolution Foundation entitled The UK’s wealth distribution and characteristics of high wealth households, unless otherwise stated. Please note that these are just examples based on our own limited research and may not be reflective of your own client base.

High net worth individuals (HWNI) Mass affluent
HNWI definitions vary from organisation to organisation, but the FCA defines a ‘high net worth mortgage customer’ as somebody having an annual income of £300,000 or more or net assets of £3m or more Have between £100,000 and £500,000 in investable assets
More likely to hold wealth in business and financial assets More likely to hold wealth in property and pensions
More likely to hold higher earning, riskier assets Prefer low or medium-risk investments
Older generations are much more likely to be high-net-worth Nearly half are older than 55 and approaching retirement
Four in 10 have children under the age of 18, resulting in a need to balance supporting their family with saving for retirement

Of course, both groups are likely to have overlapping interests – but here are a few examples of where you might be able to differentiate your content to better appeal to one or the other. For instance, an adviser targeting a high-net-worth clientele might decide to produce content about Inheritance Tax planning, high-net-worth wealth management and business succession; targeting criteria for these individuals might include postcodes with a high density of high-value properties, those working within certain industries at a senior or CEO level, or those with an interest in luxury brands or passion investments. For a mass affluent audience, you might decide to target parents over the age of 55 looking to support their child(ren)’s education, or those interested in retirement planning, buy-to-let property or lower-risk investments. Of course, these are just examples and will depend on the particular characteristics of your intended audience.

  1. A website that effectively represents your brand

Any brand from any sector will benefit from a well-thought-out, modern website with well-written content and an eye-catching design that reflects the business’s mission and values. For the financial services industry, however, a well-designed website is not so much beneficial as it is absolutely crucial. Good web design is proven to instil trust and confidence in visitors – an essential for financial services firms, as those seeking advice are looking to entrust their financial wellbeing and security to an unknown quantity. A 2020 study found that good website design has a strong positive correlation with consumer trust, which then increases the likelihood of visitors going on to use a business’s services.

This is backed up by Trust Pilot statistics, which state that the most important factor for consumers when deciding whether to trust a financial services firm is its website, with 68% deeming this to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Even if your business acquires the majority of its new clients via word of mouth, you shouldn’t neglect your website – referred prospects are still likely to check out your website as a precaution before getting in touch.

  1. SMART objectives

A lot of the clients we work with come to us with a goal in mind. Perhaps they want to appear higher in the Google rankings, or maybe they want to increase the number of enquiries via their website. Admirable though these end goals may be, they are not specific enough to truly drive success. When do you want to achieve this by? How many extra enquiries do you want to receive? Is this per month or per year? And is what you’re attempting to achieve even possible within that timeframe? These are the questions you need to ask, and the SMART framework will help you to answer them.

SMART goals are:






Let’s take the goal of appearing higher in the Google rankings. A SMART version of this goal might be ‘I would like to move from tenth place to fifth place in the Google rankings for the keyword financial adviser in Liverpool within a period of six months.’ This goal is specific, outlining the particular keyword we want to rank for. It’s measurable as we’ve included a numeric value we’re looking to achieve by the end of the goal period. With the right optimisations on our website, it is likely achievable – we’ve specified a region, meaning that the keyword is likely to be less competitive. And finally, it’s realistic because we’re not looking to reach our goal ranking within a week – we’re allowing time for our SEO improvements to feed through to our Google results.

  1. The right social media platforms

In a report entitled Twitterisation 2.0: The Exponential Pull of Innovation, US firm SEI observed that “Despite historic hesitancy on the part of many asset managers, driven in large by regulatory concerns, social networks play an increasingly pivotal role in the industry.” Dedicating resources to a company’s social media presence, it continued, is vital at a time “where many financial brands are facing an erosion of awareness and trust.”

 For firms just starting out on their social media journey, selecting the right social media channels for your business is crucial. For example, LinkedIn is likely to be suitable if you are looking to attract wealthy senior professionals seeking retirement planning advice, while equally Instagram or TikTok won’t be appropriate if your target audience largely consists of those over the age of 50. You should also consider what each platform is used for, so that you can adapt your content and message accordingly. Twitter is increasingly used as a platform for conversations and debates about trending topics, so a constant stream of tweets advertising your various products and services is unlikely to gain traction. Instagram, meanwhile, is a highly visual platform that is primarily used to drive engagement; here, success depends on having the resource to produce stunning photographs and video content.

If you’re unsure, it could be well worth investing in the services of a social media agency (like TOMD!), who will be able to advise you on the most suitable platforms for your business, assist you with setting up your profiles and produce high-quality graphics and content to improve your chances of success.

  1. Positive reviews

 According to the same Trustpilot survey we cited earlier, ratings and reviews are the second most important factor for consumer trust in financial services, with 61% of consumers saying they are ‘important’ or ‘very important’. In fact, across all industries, nine in 10 UK customers said they would check online reviews before buying from a particular business, while even more (94%) said they would avoid businesses with a rating lower than four stars.

So, how can you leverage the power of reviews for your own business? Well, the first step is to actively ask for them. You’ll likely find that most of your clients are willing to do this – according to BrightLocal’s latest Local Consumer Review Survey, of the 73% of consumers who were asked to leave a review in 2020, 72% went on to do so. The same report revealed that the most common way of asking for a review is via email.

The final step is to make sure that prospects can find your reviews. If you have asked for Google reviews, these should be displayed in the search engine results when people search for your business. If people have left reviews on websites such as Trustpilot or Feefo, you can install a widget on your website that pulls through your latest reviews for visitors to read.

  1. Thought leadership content

 If a person is trusting a company with their finances, it naturally follows that they’re going to want reassurance that this firm knows what it’s doing. One way to establish your knowledge and expertise, and to stand out from the competition, is through a well-thought-out content strategy addressing topical issues your target audience is looking for and educating them about their finances.

Thought leadership content takes this a step further. It enables you to offer opinions, deliver fresh new insights, and to spark conversations – this might be via a video, an online report or a long-form content piece. As highly shareable content, it also generates engagement in the form of likes, clicks and shares and it’s an excellent way to build trust in your brand. This is borne out by Edelman and LinkedIn’s 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study – nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (64%) said that an organisation’s thought leadership content is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competency than its marketing materials and product sheets.

Creating quality thought leadership content is time-consuming, though, and many firms find that, despite their best intentions, content creation is constantly falling to the bottom of the to-do list. Working with a content agency that specialises in financial services (like TOMD) could help you prioritise your thought leadership content strategy in 2022.

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

 Many of the firms we work with are nervous about SEO because it sounds so complex. While there is a lot that goes into it, SEO is essentially about making your website as user-friendly as possible. Think about a website that loads quickly, with easy-to-use navigation, useful content that answers the questions you’re looking for and an easy way to get in touch. These are all things that most web users expect as standard these days, which is why Google rewards user-friendly sites by pushing them higher up the search engine rankings. Think about what you’re looking for in a website when searching for products and services, and try to emulate this on your own site.

Optimising your website for Google and other search engines has never been more important for the financial services sector. Analysis from Ruler Analytics shows that in 2020, 41% of web traffic to financial services sites came from organic search (i.e. people searching for something and clicking on a result), and another 24% came from paid search (where a company pays for their result to come up when users type in a certain keyword). So, researching the words that people are using to search for services like yours, and writing optimised content to answer the questions people are actually asking, really does pay – and it’s only likely to become more crucial as time goes by.

  1. Marketing experts who understand your industry

 Over the years, we have worked with many firms who have come to us after being dissatisfied with a marketing agency that does not understand the intricacies of the financial services landscape. Because of the regulatory limitations on the financial services industry, what works for the tech or retail sectors (for example) won’t necessarily work for financial services. Likewise, as a niche and specialised industry, content writers with little experience in the finance industry are likely to struggle to provide the kind of interesting, topical and – most importantly – accurate content you need to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

From liaising with compliance departments to applying the correct risk warnings on your marketing collateral, TOMD has over 20 years’ experience in helping financial services firms of all shapes and sizes to achieve their marketing ambitions. To find out more, please email us at or call 01279 657555.

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