A recent study from Schwab found the following troubling statistics for the financial planning industry:

  • Only one in four individuals has a written financial plan.
  • Nearly half (45%) prefer visiting the dentist versus making an appointment with their financial advisor.
  • Parents are No. 1 on the list to go to for advice (23%) followed by the internet (19%).
  • Men are more likely to seek advice from an advisor (33%) than women (25%).
  • Those aged 55 or older are more likely (four in 10) to seek help from a financial advisor.

The reasons for why most individuals don’t seek professional advice vary. Some fear they will look ignorant. Others may not want to share personal financial details or think they do not have enough money. These stats suggest financial advisors may need better public relations.

Industry associations such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) try to raise awareness of the important role financial advisors play. In Fall 2018, the CFP Board launched a public awareness campaign that encourages consumers to visit its Let’s Make a Plan website to learn more about financial planning. But advisors themselves need to find ways to get the word out that their training and professional credentials qualify them to offer important and life-changing advice. Here are a few steps advisors can take:

  • Craft a detailed bio that defines your niche or specialty (if you have one) or your general philosophy on how you work with clients and approach financial planning. Include credentials and professional designations.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated to appropriately convey your expertise. Share educational or interesting content on this platform or other social media channels. Join relevant industry LinkedIn groups such as the CFP Group to gain insight and content you can share with your network to leverage with your clients.
  • Create and share basic financial information to help consumers navigate key financial decisions. For example, if you specialize in serving business owners or executives, write educational content on financial planning topics unique to business owners and executives such as executive compensation or transitioning wealth to the next generation. Share this content on your blog/website, LinkedIn or other social media channels, or host informational webinars.
  • Share statistics. Studies show that individuals who work with an advisor generate better results – to the tune of 3% more per year according to a Vanguard study.
  • Raise awareness of your training and professional credentials by speaking at relevant events. This could be local FPA financial planning events in your community or niche events that cater to the client base you serve.
  • Engage with media in your community and serve as a source for news stories on financial topics. Suggest stories about personal finance topics like tax or retirement planning. If possible, seek media coverage at a national level by forging relationships with national personal finance reporters. This can be done through engaging with reporters on social media platforms or through the help of a public relations firm.
  • Read practice management sites or content from industry thought leaders such as Michael Kitces that provide financial advisors with resources to better position themselves and communicate their value as advisors.
  • When meeting directly with clients, listen carefully and be patient answering questions. Remember, many people feel uncomfortable talking about money. Remind them that they are not alone, that everyone has questions and that your profession requires you to keep their personal information confidential. Acknowledge good questions and remind them of the smart decisions they’ve made. Happy clients are one of the best sources of referrals for new business.

There is an opportunity for advisors to communicate the important role independent financial advice can play in helping individuals achieve long term financial security. And while you may not be able to speak for the entire industry, you can start by creating awareness of your own expertise and passion.