According to Raghav Sharma, co-founder and CEO of GuideVine, there are 640,000 searches for advisors every month on Google, and 70% of consumer decisions are based on what they find online — two compelling reasons financial advisors need a consumer-friendly presence on the Internet.
A comprehensive digital profile will not only help attract potential clients but also younger advisors to firms, many headed by and staffed with advisors over 50 or 60 years of age, says Sharma, a former a McKinsey consultant in its financial services practice.
“Advisors need to relate to a younger generation and need to attract younger advisors to their firms,” said Sharma, in an interview at ThinkAdvisor’s New York office. And more of them are willing to use digital marketing tools to achieve those goals because of the “unrelenting attack from robo-advisors,” said Sharma.
How GuideVine Works
GuideVine markets itself as a Match.com-like service connecting consumers to registered investment advisors. Potential clients can search for advisors using the “Find Your Financial Advisor” button at the website GuideVine.com by entering zip code, amount of investable assets and the types of service they’re looking for, such as financial planning, retirement planning, investment consulting and more.
In addition, they can then choose to provide some vital statistics about themselves, including income level, whether they’re married or single, gender and household income.
Once the information is entered, a page or more of advisors will pop up, including profiles, short videos featuring individual advisors and, if available, a customer survey rating. The consumer can then ask the advisor a question via email and/or schedule a free consultation. The typical potential client is 40 to 45 years old, married with kids, and with more than $1 million in investable assets.
More than 70% of these matches yield meetings with prospective clients, but the numbers aren’t earth-shattering. The matches translate into an average three to five client meeting per advisor, though they run as high as 15 meetings. Potential clients typically meet with at least three to four advisors and decide two to three months after their meeting whether to sign up with a particular advisor.
To date 70,000 consumers have used the site and about one-third of them for the purpose of finding an advisor, said Sharma About half visit it for educational purposes – the site includes blogs on various financial topics.
GuideVine’s Advisor Clients
Unlike consumers, advisors pay for the service, which costs an average $1,800 to $2,000 per year plus about $600 for video production. To date, more than 300 advisors are on the site from around the country, representing a total AUM topping $50 billion. They include advisors from LPL, regionals as well as sole practitioners and family offices..
The typical advisor using GuideVine has an average 20 years’ experience and meets Dalbar minimums: one year at a firm, $20 million in assets under management and 20 clients. Entire firms can sign up for the service for their advisors or individual advisors themselves can apply themselves, but before any are included they are vetted by GuideVine, which checks criminal, civil and regulatory records. Once they clear those hurdles, GuideVine will make a two-minute video of the advisor to introduce themselves to potential clients “Come prepared to talk, talk about what’s unique about your business, background and any personal details you’d like to share,” said Sharma. “They can be important in attracting clients … [but] don’t tell us you’re a holistic fiduciary.”
Then Sharma recalled one advisor who spoke about his three kids who played lacrosse. When he asked the advisor why he chose that topic, the advisor explained, “ ‘It’s because my client base is parents.’ “
GuideVine currently has several partnerships with financial firms including Fidelity — its platform is available to all firms that clear and custody with Fidelity Institutional — PolicyGenius, an online insurance site, and advisorwebsites.com, and hopes to announce additional affiliations in the next month or so.