You can automate every one of your emails and have the best website, but if you don’t make a strong first impression, all might be lost. In other words, old-fashioned human touch still seals the deal – and so much still comes down to a handshake. One way to convey that human touch and make a strong first impression is through your financial advisor bio on your website. Your professional bio should convey professionalism and humanity at the same time. As someone who edits financial advisors for a living, I’ve seen many bios that go too far in one direction. Some are so polished and vague they become a bore to read; some are so replete with personal hobbies and jokes that they miss the mark on why the bio is being read in the first place. So how do you strike that happy medium and create a brief, engaging bio that gives off a strong first impression – much like a firm handshake?
First or Third Person
First-person perspective includes “I” or “me” and third-person includes “he,” “she” or “it.” There are various opinions on which is best for writing your professional bio – striking that balance of personal and yet professional. Old school dogma was to put everything in the third person, which for many years people thought was the only way to sound professional: “Tom is an advisor in his 20th year of practice, etc…”. Most of us probably have this impulse somewhere in our heads, no doubt bred by an English class decades ago. Yet there are advantages to third person. It can help to divert away from what sounds like bragging. “Tom was named named a Hall of Fame Advisor in 2018” might have a less egotistical ring than, “I’m in the Hall of Fame!” Third person can also give the impression that you “have people for that” – meaning your company has a deep enough bench complete with content writers to free you up to concentrate on client relationships and advising. First person is definitely rising in popularity. This gives a personal touch and invites the reader to get to know you, not just read your accomplishments. It lends a little more life to your writing and can make – yes, even a professional bio – a bit more engaging read. “Tom received his Series 6 license in 1987” becomes, “Just out of college, still wet behind the ears, I worked 14-hour days until I got my Series 6.” This gives the facts some texture for readers to hold onto. Whichever you use, be consistent! Jumping back and forth between first and third person is uncomfortable to read and looks sloppy. Remember this is your initial contact – this is your first impression for people to get to know you – don’t offer them a “dead fish” handshake.
What to Include
Including personal details is a consistent question in professional bios. Again, a bio can be as engaging as directions for installing a dishwasher or so intimately personal it looks like a diary entry – both miss the mark. Keep in mind your purpose behind the writing, similar to your purpose behind a handshake – that you’re a flesh-and-blood person who’s ready to do the work and do it well. A two-part, one-part rule of thumb might help. Two-parts professional background (awards, certifications, previous employment) to every one part personal (spouse, kids, hobbies). Don’t put this on a graph, please. Instead, think more of the intuition of making a cocktail. “Tina has her Series 6 certification and 20 years experience in financial planning,” there’s your two parts. “She’s an avid outdoorswoman and can be found on hiking trail when she’s not in the office” – there’s your personal detail. Two shots professional, one shot personal – chill and serve. Awards, certifications and relevant personal experience form the nuts and bolts of the bio and let people know that you’re trustworthy and battle-tested. Include your series certifications and even, very carefully, some points of interest that may seem tangential as long as they tie into the story. “In addition to his Series 6 and CFP, Gus is fluent in Spanish and has traveled to Mexico to help small business start-ups.” This kind of detail gives dimension without getting too far off topic.
We’ve already pointed to a handshake as a form of first impression. You can also think of your bio like the entryway of your house. As people cross the threshold, this area needs to be clean and well decorated to give that good first impression. A professional bio, like a foyer, has a few housekeeping rules that will help in that crucial moment.
A few different length bios will be helpful, especially if you are part of a large firm with an elaborate website. A good rule of thumb here is a long, short and two-line bio. A long one can cover a full page and can be a good link destination from a shorter one. A short bio is a paragraph or two, and will appear on the most platforms – team page, LinkedIn, etc. A two-line bio can appear under a byline or a Google search page.
Use active rather than passive voice in your writing. Passive voice is the sterile way we had to write science papers in college: “My Series 6 was earned in 1987.” A fun way to spot and root out the passive voice from your writing is to insert the phrase “by zombies” after the verb in a sentence. If it makes sense – then you’ve found the passive voice! My Series 6 was earned in 1987 – terrifying! Change this to active: “I earned my Series 6 in 1987.” This gives life and motion to the text.
Using a template for writing your professional bio can help you understand what your employer wants and help you keep the important details. A simple Google search will bring you to a lot of these, just make sure they’re in line with the culture of your firm. Here’s a template sketch for a short professional bio just to get you started:
- Email address
- Quote about your job: “Advising is about the people…”
- Bio within the firm: “Tom joined Carson in 2001…”
- Brief background sentence: “The son of a stockbroker and a loan officer, Tom grew up in the financial world, taking his first job as a bank teller at 17…”
- Relevant certifications: “Tom holds his Series 6, CFP, CPA …”
- Relevant Awards: “Tom was named Forbes Forty Under Forty in 2010…”
- A few personal details: “When Tom’s not in the office, he’s riding mountain bikes with his wife Tina…”
Leave Them Wanting More
“Leave them wanting more” is an axiom of show business which means you give your audience enough to get them interested, but make sure they want to come back. You are starting a relationship here – hopefully one which results in a life-long client. They should finish your professional bio thinking, “I want to see more and get to know this person better.” Advising isn’t a cut-and-dry, transactional profession – it’s made up of relationships. Trust is the currency of these relationships, and telling someone about yourself is a bold move in striking that trust. Your bio tells your prospects you are willing to take that first step and put out your hand.
Need help putting together a bio, a blog or any other part of the digital marketing for your firm? Carson partners have access to a full marketing team that will help you get your firm’s name out there – set up a complimentary consultation today!