A ‘boom’ in the financial advisor lead generation industry

By Maria WoodAugust 6, 2014

According to the US Census Bureau, there are 76.4 million baby boomers in the US today. As this group enters or nears retirement, many are going to seek the help of a financial planner to map out their golden years. That’s where lead generation comes in.

Amy McIlwain, president of Financial Social Media in Denver, counsels financial advisors on social media strategy. Recently, she’s noted a “huge shift” away from organic social media use to paid social media. “Some of the targeted advertising and promoted posts you can do on the social media channels have delivered tremendous results for lead gen in financial services.”

To illustrate that point, she uses the example of one of her clients who noticed on Twitter a company in Atlanta had offered pension buyouts to 20,000 of its employees. Seeing this as an opportunity to reach out and potentially advise those employees on whether or not to take the buyout, he, with the help of McIlwain’s company, did targeted advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. He zeroed in on those employees at the company who lived in a certain geographic area and were over the age of 50; therefore, they were likely to be contemplating retirement.

Such endeavors aren’t necessarily costly. Excluding her company’s management fees, the adviser spent about $700 on the effort. In return, he generated 900 clicks, 65 phone calls and 25 qualified prospects, McIlwain says. “This is a phenomenal example of a targeted effort,” she says.

Not only is the financial/retirement planning field a lucrative one for lead gen companies, it’s also a business where the professionals are likely in need of lead generation services. Brandon Stuerke is president and creator of The Automated Advisor, a marketing automation program. He recommends that financial pros buy leads rather than trying to generate their own.

“Until you can prove your own marketing produces qualified leads for cheaper than what you could outsource lead generation for, you should probably be outsourcing your lead generation,” Stuerke says. That being said, advisers must consider the cost and quality of the leads.

“Look at cost and ask how the leads are being developed,” Stuerke says. “If it’s online, what’s the medium? Is it with opt-in pages for information? I would want to know what the leads are requesting, so I would know exactly how qualified is the lead.”

Another question to ask is how targeted is the lead. “Is it anybody who filled out a page on a website or is it filtered by age and income and all those criteria I would care about?” Stuerke asks. “Then, what if any pre-qualification process has happened? Meaning, is it a lead that is actually expecting my call. Is it a lead that wants to make an appointment? Is it a lead that is simply asking for some high-level information? How motivated and qualified is the lead?”

Recently, Stuerke’s company began generating leads for advisers using paid Facebook ads. “For example, an adviser who wants Social Security planning leads will do ads for a free Social Security analysis,” he says. “Because we know how to market and target the right demographic we get a very high and qualified response.”

When generating leads in the financial services industry, some pretty strict regulations apply. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission oversee those guidelines so visiting their websites is a good place to get that information. Two general rules of thumb to follow: Any mention of guaranteed rates of return is prohibited, and all social media exchanges—status updates, posts—must be retained and archived.

McIlwain says it boils to one simple tenet: “Just like best practices in social media in general is if you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t say it online.”

During LeadsCon 2014, a panel on “Staying Current with Consumer Protection: Practical Lessons from Recent Enforcement Actions,” will delve further into the regulatory environment surrounding lead generation. The event will take place at the Marriott Marquis in New York City Aug. 14-15.

This article is brought to you by LeadsCon New York.

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