Best practices: Five steps to help financial advisors maximize marketing data

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In most financial institutions, the marketing department has the ability-and the responsibility-to provide marketing information to financial advisors. This information is used to help the advisor sell and market services to targeted clients and markets. It means better performance for the advisor (especially new ones), better service for the customer and higher revenue for the firm.

To become more productive, financial advisors need a better way to categorize and rank order opportunities within a prospect database. Today's technology allows financial institutions to go further than ever before: they can categorize individuals by spending power - the amount of money they truly have to invest. Marketers can help sales identify customers and prospects with investment potential and focus on untapped money within a client base.

Armed with this information, financial advisors can make accurate determinations as to which clients have significant additional growth potential and which prospects deserve additional time and attention. The bottom line is that it falls to marketers to ensure the marketing information they provide is accessible, understandable, and actionable.

Following are five steps that can make the jobs of financial advisors a lot easier.

1. Create opportunity measures for your financial advisors that help them identify clients or prospects that are primed for growth. Financial institutions can help by categorizing their clients by total assets, allowing financial advisors to focus their time on customers with incremental assets or prospects with significant investment potential.

2. Tailor marketing support material to the needs of the advisor. If you are, for instance, providing prospecting data: include a detailed description of prospects and their potential and suggest ways that the advisor can "speak" to them. These can range from providing marketing collateral to suggesting content for individualized campaigns. Alternatively, if the data identifies specific clients who are at risk of defection, a transactional history along with a spending potential index would be very useful and can provide a foundation for communications between the advisor and his/her clients.

3. Tailor communications to the financial advisor's experience level.

Helping new advisors succeed is critical to reducing turnover and managing recruitment and retention costs. Typically, newer financial advisors (such as those with less than five years experience) can gain the most from prospecting data and tools.

For newer advisors, be sure to offer aids and clarify definitions. Aids such as examples and scenarios are clearly even more important for new advisors.

Financial advisors with established bases of business may be more skeptical and make less effective use of prospecting information. They may even be insulted by what they consider to be basic information. That's why the "best" advisors don't always make the best consumers of this data. They have already developed a detailed understanding of their client base and their opinions can often color the assessment of the data inside the firm.

4. Be aware that only some financial advisors will take the time to learn about the marketing data you're sharing and its sources. Others just don't have the time or interest. For those who do, make sure to have good documentation that explains clearly the information you are providing. Be sure to include a short, basic description of how the information was obtained so that the advisors are confident that the information they are using is accurate.

5. Finally, monitor and measure results and let the advisors know how they're doing. Provide a feedback mechanism to point out areas where the advisor may improve their efforts.

Financial institutions make significant investments in hiring and training their financial advisors. Today's targeting and segmenting tools allow companies to provide their advisors with the information they need to focus their energies and reach their potential. Providing the data they need to succeed is the next logical step to increasing productivity, reducing turnover and enhancing bottom-line revenues.

Ed Hickey is group vice president of IXI Corp.'s StrategIXInsights Group, McLean, VA. Reach him at ehickey@ixicorp.com. Elissa Fink is executive vice president/chief marketing officer of IXI Corp. Reach her at efink@ixicorp.com.

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