Way back in 2015, McKinsey & Company released a report revealing some mighty compelling statistics about the viability of virtual financial advising. Of note, the renowned management consulting firm estimated that 42 million households, representing $66 billion in annual revenues were “prime candidates for virtual advice,” worldwide. In North America alone, a whopping 10 million households and $34 billion were up for grabs.

That was 2015! Can you imagine the opportunities advisors have today in a post-pandemic world, where doing business virtually is not only the norm, it’s expected? Sure, we’ll always have clients who prefer meeting face-to-face but the opportunity to conduct business virtually has never been more viable than it is today.

Advisor success programs offer a variety of tools to support virtual advisor practices. Learn how InsurMark can help, here.

The best thing about virtual advising?

For the advisor, being able to prospect and serve more clients virtually definitely offers more flexibility than being tied to a brick-and-mortar office. You can conduct business on your terms, where you want and when you want, as long as you make yourself available to clients when they need you. That’s right, being a virtual advisor allows you to build your business around your life, not your office.

As Stephanie Bogan—one of the world’s top advisor business coaches—told us in a recent episode of InsurMark’s Breakthrough Advisor Podcast, she’s able to work 25 to 30 hours a week running a multi million-dollar firm from the beach in Costa Rica or stateside in Park City, Utah. Bogan decided to “un retire” after a change in mindset. She now enjoys spending quality time with her family because she figured out how to “create success with the time and freedom to enjoy it.” The ability to operate her business virtually has been key to Bogan’s success.

Tips for running a successful virtual advisor practice

While your business may never go 100% virtual, mastering how you conduct business in the virtual world will be critical to your long-term success. Clients move, they retire, they travel to different places, so most will need to do business with you virtually at some point.

And guess what? You don’t need to restrict your search for prospects to a networking event near you. The world is your oyster when you expand your prospecting beyond state and county lines. Ready to get serious about virtual advising? Consider the following tips.

1). Place a priority on differentiation.
During our chat with Bogan, much of the conversation focused on the importance of digitization and differentiation. According to Bogan, “We are moving into an experience economy in a culture of attention deficit, which means if we want to prospect and grow, we have to get people’s attention.”

Along with becoming increasingly accessible, virtual advisors need to make their value proposition clear in the marketing they do, including the content they publish. What may work in a face-to-face environment “doesn’t work in a world where everyone is marketing to your clients in a digital world. If you are not securing that story, the value and the service model to really deliver on that differentiation, there is much greater risk,” Bogan says.

Bogan provides terrific insight on how to differentiate and digitize in this recent post.

2). Focus on niche markets, instead of a specific geographic area.
Remember, you’re operating in a virtual world! Just because you live in Butte, Montana doesn’t mean you can’t market to the niche markets you know and serve so well, even if they live somewhere else. Prospects are searching for advisors who serve and solve problems for their specific niche, i.e., “financial advisors for doctors,” NOT “financial advisors in Butte.”

Your competition isn’t Larry the advisor down the street. Since everyone can do business virtually now, you could be based in Butte but competing with someone in California for clients in Texas. Clients won’t judge you based on your address. They will judge you based on the experience you provide during virtual conversations and through the content you serve up.

In today’s world of Amazon, Netflix and DoorDash expectations—“I need this specific thing, and I want it now!”—you need to provide a personalized experience catered to your prospect’s specific needs. And according to Bogan, the desire for fast, high-quality, affordable and customized solutions is only going to accelerate in our increasingly virtual world.

3). Create content that provides value to your target niche or based on your product specialty.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, people don’t want to be sold. Creating valuable content (videos, podcasts, tip sheets, etc.) builds trust. People want to do business with people they trust. When you start solving problems and stop selling, your business will take off.

As Bogan explains, “When you can differentiate to their pain points and needs, there’s no selling in the traditional sense because you’re not persuading or cajoling. You’re informing relative to that niche, that specialty, that specific pain point that your product is solving. The way the brain and human behavior work does the momentum and the heavy lifting for you.”

4). Make it easy for prospects to find you online.
Along with creating valuable, personalized content, virtual advisors need to commit to building a robust digital footprint if they want to stand out from the crowd. Are you the “best financial advisor for dentists” or do you offer creative retirement solutions that offer “lifetime income for Baby Boomers”? Then your name and face should come up when your target prospects do an online search.

Some advisor success programs offer technology to help advisors grow their digital footprint. For example, InsurMark offers our advisor clients a variety of digital tools that were specifically designed to help optimize search engine rankings, like the easily customizable MyWebsite. Regularly publishing valuable content is also critical for building a robust digital footprint, so we also offer services to simplify that process.

Successful virtual advisors also make a habit of hanging out where their prospects hang out, virtually. For example, regularly sharing content and providing valuable feedback on LinkedIn and Facebook helps keep your name and face top of mind, while building trust.

5). Tap into technology that makes it easy to do business with you.
We’ve got some great news! Technology that was cost-prohibitive just a few short years ago, is much more affordable today. That’s right, advisors now have access to a variety of affordable tools and technology that make it easy to operate a virtual advisor practice, including platforms that allow you to share information and documents in a secure and compliant way.

The right technology can also help you move prospects through the sales funnel by providing value and making it easy to understand how the solutions you provide solve their problems. Examples of tools and technology that successful virtual advisors use, include:

  • Videoconferencing tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, etc.
  • Secure, cloud-based storage and document exchange platforms, like Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, etc.
  • Digital appointment scheduling tools, like Calendly, Acuity Scheduling and Schedule Once (pop that link into your email correspondence!).
  • Turnkey, customizable, search optimized website solutions like MyWebsite.
  • Business management platforms with analytics and a business tracking dashboard, like Hubbard, InsurMark’s proprietary advisor business platform.
  • Automated marketing platforms like Catalyst, InsurMark’s proprietary marketing platform, that supports lead gen, prospect nurturing and client outreach goals. 

These are but a few of the many tips and tools available to virtual advisors today. Advisor success programs like InsurMark offer many more. Contact your advisor development organization to find out what tools are available to you.

Have questions about InsurMark and how we can support your virtual advising efforts?

As one of the premier advisor success programs, InsurMark brings the products, tools, coaching, resources and expert insight you need to take your virtual advisor business to new levels. Contact us to learn more!