A career in financial advice can be incredibly gratifying as you help your clients work toward the vision they have for the future. While direct client interaction is most advisors’ favorite part of their role, the truth is your business will only continue to thrive if it keeps growing – and that comes down to your financial advisor marketing strategy. 

But how much do you need to invest in marketing? And what marketing strategies work best for a financial advisor?

One often-cited rule of thumb is that financial advisors should spend between 4% and 10% of their revenue on marketing.

But hard costs are just part of the equation – marketing often requires a great deal of time as well. That’s why you want to prioritize the marketing activities offering the best ROI. We’ve put together this comprehensive financial advisor marketing guide to introduce some of the most common and impactful activities to help you plan your marketing approach.

In this essential guide to financial advisor marketing, we’ll show you how to connect with and convert leads via client referrals, centers of influence (COIs) and passion prospecting; how to use effective digital marketing tools for financial advisors; how to put together your marketing plan and more. Read on to find out how to start getting your services in front of your target clients today.

Article Contents

How to Generate Referrals and Foster Connection

It probably comes as no surprise that referrals are still one of the most effective ways to get in front of new prospects. And it makes sense – referrals come your way through people who prospects trust. Here are three types of referrals and how to encourage them.

Client Referrals

Client referrals are a powerful marketing technique because they’re coming from those who are already satisfied with your services. And while it can seem daunting to collect and nurture referrals, the great thing is that usually all you have to do is ask.

To do that confidently, you need to shift your thinking. Most advisors believe they’re asking for a favor when they ask for a referral. But you know how much you have to offer – especially now when people are more concerned about their finances than ever before. What you’re really doing is offering value to someone who might need it. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes: We’re all juggling more than ever these days and researching financial advisors is quite likely way down on their list, even if they know it should be a priority. It might be a great source of relief if you contact them to offer your services proactively. And if they don’t need your advice – if they already have an advisor, for example – no harm done.

So, how do you go about getting names from your current clients? One easy way to do it is during your annual review when your value is top of mind. As you go over their accounts and the year’s wins, remind them you are always looking to help others pursue their financial goals and ask if they can think of anyone who might benefit from your advice. Another great time to ask is after your client has paid you a compliment or you have gone above and beyond to help them with a financial challenge.

Another successful tactic is planning a client event and asking them to bring a friend or two. It could be a seminar about a timely financial topic or a low-key social gathering where clients and prospects can mingle. If you take this approach, be sure to collect contact information and follow up shortly after.

Centers of Influence

While clients can be an indispensable source for well-vetted referrals, they aren’t your only option. Another tactic to augment traditional referral gathering is creating relationships with centers of influence (COIs). These people can help you grow your business through their credibility. For financial advisors, that could be professionals in the fields of accounting, insurance, real estate or law, to name a few. These COIs already work with clients who trust them with personal and financial details – the exact type of client who is likely to need your services.

These referrals can happen organically and should operate in both directions: Say your client just started a new business and you refer them to an accountant. It can be most effective to create a strategic partnership with professionals like an attorney and accountant, where you decide to work together as an integrated team to help clients. By aligning yourself with reputable professionals, you are providing your clients with a service and building your business along the way.

Passion Prospecting

You might find this third successful method for sourcing referrals the most meaningful. Passion prospecting involves aligning yourself with an outside interest about which you’re already passionate. As you become more deeply integrated with fellow enthusiasts, they can then end up as clients or referral sources.

Your passion could be a cause that’s dear to your heart, such as raising money for a deserving charity, or an engaging hobby. Once you’ve settled on your preferred activity, you can start a group, like a wine tasting club, or host a service project, such as a beach cleanup. Invite clients and prospects and encourage them to bring guests. Passion prospecting is successful because it allows you to talk about something you love with others who feel the same way. As discussions develop organically, it’s natural to talk about work with people you already have a lot in common with. And some of them may be looking for a financial advisor they feel comfortable with.

Closing the deal

The best referral network in the world won’t move the needle if you don’t take advantage of these opportunities. Time is of the essence so, when someone reaches out to you, respond immediately. That means contacting referrals quickly to encourage the next step, responding to those who comment on your social media and sending thank you notes after each meeting with a client – where you might also ask for another referral to keep the prospecting cycle going.

Digital Marketing Strategies for Financial Advisors

While many advisors still rely on tried-and-true tactics like radio ads and direct mail, chances are good you’ve also realized the value of digital marketing. It’s more targetable, measurable and (can be) more cost-effective than traditional advertising. If you’re trying to decide how to get started, we’ve got you covered. Here are four areas to consider, based on your available time and expertise.

Social Media

Most financial advisors grasp the importance of social media in building their business – one survey found 89% of advisors attribute gaining new clients to their social media activity. If you’re wondering where to concentrate your efforts, the same survey identified the most popular channels: 85% of advisors use LinkedIn, 65% use Facebook and 57% use Twitter. But a word of warning before you start jumping into every platform: Identify the spaces where your ideal prospects are spending time and then track engagement to make sure your social strategy is impactful.

Having a social media profile isn’t enough. In today’s connected world, it’s vital to have an active and robust social media presence. Another study found nearly half of investors said social media impacts who they hire as a financial professional, and nearly one-quarter of Gen Z respondents said they wouldn’t even consider talking to a financial professional who didn’t have a social media presence.

There’s no one single way to approach social media, but whatever your tactic, using your authentic voice is what will make you stand out and attract the right kind of prospects. Many advisors do this by making much of their content about connection — firm culture, community involvement activities, personal hobbies — instead of just focusing on personal finance education and market commentary. Remember, people do business with people, and social media can offer a fantastic window into your interests and values.

A word of caution: Take care to recognize that any political or social commentary you post reflects on you so many advisors choose to steer clear of this type of content. And, of course, verify that anything you post is in line with compliance regulations.

Finally remember that social media is, at its heart, social. Take time to interact with your followers on what they post, repost interesting content you see and engage with your commenters. In fact, you should spend most your time on social media engaging with the content of others, rather than creating your own. Potential clients want to get a sense of your responsiveness and personality, and social media offers an optimal avenue.

SEO for Financial Advisors

No matter what consumers are looking for these days, they typically start with a search engine. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) should be a fundamental part of your strategy. It’s crucial to rank near the top of the search engine’s results page: The first organic result yields an average click-through rate of 28.5%, with the rate dropping precipitously to a paltry 2.5% for the 10th result.

While search algorithms change regularly, one umbrella practice to remember is EAT – expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Search engines identify high-quality pages. Point search engines toward your site by using effective keywords organically.

Keywords are the phrases your prospects are likely to type into their search bar to find you. Your clients are likely to search for “financial planner” or “financial advisor” + “your city” so make sure your website and other online presences include those localized terms frequently and naturally. Then think about the types of assistance your clients are likely looking for, such as retirement planning, how to set up a college saving account or estate planning. That can help point you toward the type of content you should create and link to, which will brand you as an authority in the space and help boost that SEO ranking. Some tools that you can use to research keywords for free include Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Answer The Public, and Keywords Everywhere.

Finally, claim your Google Business Profile, which puts you – quite literally – on the map. Once you’ve followed the steps Google outlines online to create your profile, the search engine will verify the information you submitted is correct, which takes a few weeks. This process includes checking your data against other business-listing websites for accuracy – think Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, Bing, Yelp, etc. (Here’s a great list from HubSpot). You can manually do this or pay a third party, like Yext. Once complete, your Google Business Profile will help your ranking on the search results page, move your firm into the Google Maps results page, and list your contact card with your firm’s information.

Email marketing

No matter how much we all like to grumble about email overload, it’s a permanent part of our lives and a staple of any successful marketing program for financial advisors. Email is a cost-effective way to stay top of mind with your clients and prospects because your communications go directly to them. Social media posts, in contrast, can be hit-and-miss depending on how frequently people visit their feeds.

There are a variety of touchpoints you can use to email clients and prospects regularly (see below for more on that) but one proven technique is to use an email newsletter that combines a mix of all the content you’ve been posting over the month. Among the items you can include:

  • A letter from you, which helps create the personalized connection so important in a trusted client/advisor relationship
  • A summary of interesting breaking news in the financial world, such as the potential effect of new tax laws
  • A primer on a key financial concept, such as how inflation affects your investments
  • Links to resources your firm provides, such as fact sheets or blog content
  • A call to action, with a link to follow your social media accounts, RSVP for an event or request a complimentary review of their accounts or financial goals.

You’ll also want to establish a cadence – monthly works well for many financial advisors – and commit to regularly adding story ideas or thoughts to a file so you’re not caught with a dry well when it’s time to create the content.


At some point, you’ve probably considered establishing a more robust email marketing program, then abandoned it due to the time commitment. That’s where automation comes in. Instead of creating and sending each email individually, an email marketing system allows you to create a series of automated emails to systematically reach out with a message on a predetermined schedule.

Common times to use an automated campaign include after a client visit or when a prospect has downloaded one of your resources, such as an ebook or webinar replay. Say they’ve downloaded a resource on college savings. A sample cadence might include:

  • An initial email with a link to the resource, along with a call to action to contact you with any questions
  • A second email asking if they have further questions or would like a review of their current college savings plan
  • A third email linking them to another existing resource on your site, such as a blog post comparing college plans, to demonstrate your expertise appropriate for their current goal
  • A final email reminding them you’d love to talk with them about their goals and plans, with a link inviting them to opt in to your email newsletter.

To streamline the process, email automation programs let you create templates for these communications as soon as you plan your automated email campaign, so they are ready to go. Then let the magic of automation handle the rest.

Putting Together Your Marketing Plan

We’ve discussed a lot of individual strategies and tactics that can help promote your financial advising practice. No matter which ones seem to fit your model the best, it’s wise to approach your marketing holistically, which is why you should create a cohesive marketing plan to help guide your efforts. Here are three best practices to ensure you’re developing an effective marketing plan that will support your business goals.

1. Determine Your Unique Value Proposition

This entails figuring out your ideal client profile and how your firm is uniquely suited to serve them. Your ideal persona or personas – most firms will have 3-5 – will determine which pain points your messaging should speak to. Once you know what your ideal clients need, think through your unique approach to solving those problems. What are you doing to address your clients’ problems in a way that makes it easy for them to take the first step with you?

2. Select Tactics that Fit Your Ideal Client Personas

For example, if you intend to court more small business owners, you may decide to amplify your efforts in COIs, focusing on an attorney and accounting partner who service a similar clientele. You may also decide to tweak your SEO to elevate your firm for a small business owner searching for the services you provide.

3. Make a Schedule You Can Stick To

Crafting an ambitious plan might feel satisfying but will only yield results if it’s consistent and actionable. That’s why a basic component of your marketing planning must be identifying how and when your activities will take place. Say you’ve decided you’ll post one social media update daily, a blog weekly, a newsletter monthly, and hold a prospecting event quarterly.

Work backward to put those dates on the calendar (including all the supporting activities, such as finding the venue and sending out invitations for the event). Determine what resources your plan demands – both time and money – and decide how you will meet the need. Do you need to set aside one afternoon a week to focus on executing marketing strategies? Do you need to hire an assistant or outsource your marketing support?

Putting Your Plan into Action

Are you ready to invigorate your financial advisor marketing? The great news is you can make major progress through consistent effort. Here are five actions you can take today:

  1. Start a story idea file you can refer to when you need content for your social media posts or newsletter
  2. Create an email template to ask for client referrals
  3. Strengthen your social media network by following your clients and their companies, along with industry thought leaders
  4. Research an email automation tool to help free up time for more strategic activities
  5. Attend a meeting for a business group, such as your local Chamber of Commerce. 

Want to know more about what’s driving the success of today’s fastest-growing advisors? Subscribe to Carson’s newsletter, The Trend Line.

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