Conversations with some financial advisers relating to their marketing strategies brings into question the future of independent advice in the NZ industry. I make absolutely no apology for using the term 'independent', as in the context of this financial services industry blog, the word is defined as "a financial adviser who has no contractual obligation to deliver a specific target, quota, or level of production for any one product provider exclusively".

That said, the attitude of some advisers to the concept of marketing ranges from dismissive, abusive, and open hostility, to full acceptance, understanding, and engagement with the realities of modern commercial life.

I'm sure many of you will have seen this cartoon before - the King on horseback is declaring to his squire - "I've got no time to see a salesman, I've got a battle to fight!"

In many respects, the King reminds me of many financial advisers and their attitudes toward marketing in general, and toward email and digital marketing in particular.

While some advisers consider marketing to consist of picking up the white pages and a telephone, others have deployed sophisticated, inexpensive email marketing solutions, and have developed lead generation mechanisms designed to fill their sales funnels with a never-ending stream of warm prospects.

Sorry - but the white pages/phone  dinosaurs are heading for extinction - while the savvy advisers who utilise modern technology will dominate  distribution in years to come. 

So why do some advisers accept and absorb the contemporary marketing technology, and others stick with antiquated practices from the last millennium/century?

Well, perhaps like the King in the cartoon, the latter group is not prepared to listen to new ideas, remain mired in the ways of their forefathers, and may even like cold-calling!

I recall from the old country, that the Abbey Life direct sales people in London were provided a 6 x 4 booth with a full length mirror, no chair or desk, a phone and the phone book. 

  • Stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself as you talk - that's what you sound like on the phone!
  • The rules were - make 100 phone calls, get 10 appointments, close 1 sale.
  • The prospect had to come to the office for the appointment.

I suspect the ratio of calls to appointments to sales has been dimmed by the passing years, but you get the idea. Go chase down the unsuspecting - and largely unwilling - consumer, and convince them that they need insurance. That's where the "back the hearse up to the door, and let 'em smell the flowers" approach originated.

Thankfully, modern marketing techniques are designed to identify qualified leads, i.e. those people who are interested in what you have to say, while the energy-sapping, soul-destroying days of cold-calling are - or should be - over.

But unless more advisers pick up on the power of contemporary marketing techniques, the consumer faces the bleak prospect of being unable to connect to a 'nonaligned' financial adviser, and may have little alternative but to throw themselves at the tender mercies of the nearest bank.

Certainly, many consumers use the internet for researching financial products, but direct purchase of combined benefit risk packages remains low. It seems that once online research has been done, an adviser of some description is then sought out to complete the transaction.

But an adviser's chances of connecting with these potentially willing buyers by the old-fashioned means of cold-calling, are remote in the extreme.

Those buyers are looking for an adviser - unless you have an online presence, how can it possibly be you? 

However, deciding to embark on a social media marketing strategy is not something to be undertaken lightly.

Next time, I'll outline some important aspects of digital marketing, but in the meantime, for those who are thinking about it, here's a useful video link -