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WEALTH MANAGER-Building a brand can help build the book
* Brand building less costly and risky than buying a book
* Branding tells prospects why they should be with you
By John McCrank
TORONTO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Being average doesn't cut the mustard with investors these days, making it more important than ever for financial advisers to tell the world what makes them special.
In short, building a brand is crucial at a time when financial advice has become just another commodity.
"If you are average and are going after an average lot of people and hoping that something will stick, you are not going to find the referral base," said Jeff Malcolm, president of AdvisorBranding, which focuses on spurring growth through marketing.
The most common way for an adviser to build his or her book is to go out and buy one from someone who is retiring or leaving the industry.
Typically, the cost to the adviser is 1 percent of the assets under administration of the new book. So a $10 million ($9.6 million) transition would lead to $100,000 in fees. There is also the risk that the adviser and the new clients will not hit it off.
For about a quarter of the cost, and minus the risk of taking over someone else's business, an adviser can invest in building his or her own brand, Malcolm said, and help foster ongoing growth.
Building a brand requires stepping back and figuring out who your ideal clients are, and then putting in place all of the different ways to get yourself in front of them. Tactics include personalized mailings, call backs, the design of logos, brochures, letterhead, envelopes, and websites, and the effective use social media such as LinkedIn.
It's all about effectively making sure that clients know what sets you apart and what it is you have to offer.
"The reason why we do this is the upmarket potential of growth is huge," Malcolm said.
UBS Wealth Management Canada has been making an effort to increase its brand awareness to help capture a bigger portion of the country's richest people, said Chief Executive Grant Rasmussen.
"UBS has really tried to highlight, for example, that we deal with more millionaires than any other company on the planet," he said. "That is one of the things we pride ourselves on ... it's sort of making sure that people know our brand and know what our brand stands for."
Malcolm said that advisers should try to nail down a simple story or phrase that highlights what it is at their core that makes them different than their competitors. Many advisers, he added, have a tough time doing that.
Julian Wise, of the Wise Advisory Group in Oakville, Ontario, wanted to build his brand but didn't know where to begin.
Malcolm recalled Wise telling him: "Basically I've been in business since 1976 and I make a promise and keep it."
"So it was 'Promises made. Promises kept. Since 1976.' It is so simple but it rings through on all the brand collateral."
"It shows he's been in the industry for some time, he's seen the good and the bad, and ... if he makes a commitment to a client, you darn well can trust on Julian and his team that they are going to follow through on it. He said he's had good success with that."
Richard Walsh is a senior vice president and senior investment adviser at Wellington West in Montreal and uses Malcolm's firm extensively for marketing.
"I'll tend to overcomplicate anything I touch, so he'll stream it down so it's very client-centered and friendly," Walsh said. "It's valuable to the business because it helps portray what our team is about."
AdvisorBranding has worked with advisers at Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Dundee Securities (DCa.TO), Raymond James (RJF.N), and Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), among others.
($1=$1.04 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway)
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