In Charge of Asset Management Distribution? Three tips for how to connect with RIAs

By Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

In case you missed the seismic shift in distribution (a.k.a. sales) that has occurred during the past decade let me repeat it -- power has shifted from sellers to buyers. As a consequence selling has become increasingly difficult. 

As a marketer this is the type of trend that keeps me up at night. It’s also why marketing has catapulted to one of the most influential roles in any organization. The need to better understand buyers, engage them in two-way conversation, and be top of mind when they are ready to buy has never been greater.

At ByAllAccounts I am privileged to work with both buyers and sellers: asset management firms that want to expand distribution; and independent investment advisory firms that want to offer exceptional client service. Our roster of more than 1,500 firms includes asset managers, RIAs, trust companies, custodians and service providers.

I’d like to offer my perspective on how to connect with RIAs.

  1. Provide valuable content

  2. Build relationships

  3. Adopt a personalized approach

Provide Valuable Content

The old ways of chest beating about your offerings, creating product sheets and promos are fast disappearing. The new way involves cutting through the clutter that surrounds RIAs and providing content that adds value. It’s an approach that requires patience, which will ultimately be rewarded.

On February 11th I attended the RIA Summit and was reminded anew of the complexities of running an advisory business. Managing directors are required to stay on top of compliance/regulatory issues, recruit top talent, set and communicate the firm’s vision, plan for a successor for the business and choose the best technology to carry the business forward. And they need to do this while providing the best possible investment advice. It’s a daunting list of responsibilities.

Creating relevant, timely content about the educational topics on the mind of RIAs is a value-add that places building longer-term relationships ahead of short-term sales gains.  At ByAllAccounts we offer:

  • Informative Quarterly Webinars
    (e.g., 1,000+ advisors are registered for our February 28 event on the Evolving ERISA Fiduciary Standard featuring Marcia Wagner of Wagner Law Group)

  • Quarterly surveys on “must know” industry trends
    (e.g., what’s happening to wealth transfer, estate planning and planned giving in the wake of the American Taxpayer relief act)

  • Educational white papers from industry experts
    (e.g., best practices in reconciliation)

  • Instructional how-to videos
    (e.g., how to use QR codes to transform the flat materials)

  • Social media on breaking news and the latest trends

Build Relationships

Providing valuable thought leadership / content once in a while isn’t enough. It’s important to connect with a busy RIA (or any potential buyer) from the perspective of building a lasting relationship. 

There are tools available to help you identify and keep track of which educational topics (webinars, etc) are most important to a specific prospect. Communicate regularly over a long period of time and get to know their business.

  • Have a discussion at a business-level instead of a conversation about your product

  • Follow-up with information that may help with a business issue they have that is unrelated to your product

  • Make introductions / referrals to help with recruiting efforts, technology purchases, etc.

Adopt a personalized approach

To build these relationships you need to take a personalized approach to your sales and marketing efforts.  The “one-to-many” communications no longer work.  Financial professionals want communications and approaches that are specific to their platforms, their business models, and their unique situations.

At ByAllAccounts, our database of 100,000 financial professionals has been designed with segmentation in mind.  Over time we have identified key attributes about individual firms and financial advisors that would be the Holy Grail for anyone trying to engage with these professionals.  Take the time to:

  • Segment your target client base into categories that make the most sense for your business

  • Create messages for each segment versus using one approach/method across all of them

  • Test and re-test.

So, does this all sound daunting?  What if you don’t have marketing staff or budget to help?  There are low cost, effective ways to get started and begin to really engage your audience.  Focus on taking small steps toward your goal instead of one giant leap, have patience and be willing to learn along the way.

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