By Shane Stiles President, Gate 39 Media

It’s not the title of a horror movie, and it’s not just a headline designed to get you to click. It’s a phrase a number of brokers and advisors have shared with me. In fact, I was attending a recent Financial Communications Society event, and the topic of “what do you do when an RIA’s client base is literally dead?” was part of a larger discussion.

Since talking about death, let’s be direct. If you are just starting to market because you’ve lost a number of clients (to death or for any other reason), you’re pretty much staring death in the face.  Here are a few scenarios where death begins to cause your business to decay.

A great client passes away, and either the spouse or the kids decide that they want to move the management of the money to another manager, or to not have a manager at all. In fact, 66% of children fire their parents’ financial advisor after they receive an inheritance, according to InvestmentNews Data.

Reasons why surviving family members change or stop using a financial advisor:

  • Bond due to age—many financial advisors are in a similar age rage as that of their clients. When the primary decision maker dies, the children will want to move the money to someone they feel comfortable with and can relate to.
  • Regional issues—the kids don’t live nearby, so when the client dies, the money is moved to an advisor closer to where the kids are regionally located at.
  • Modern business—if it isn’t perceived that you can provide modern amenities such as online reporting and tools, with less 1-on-1 time, the next generation will look for a manager that can.
  • Prefer to self-manage—in the age of discount trading, robo-advisory, and a universe of online tools for financial management, the client may decide they can manage their money on their own and save the advisor fees.
  • No need for services—if you’re in the brokerage business, offering either investment guidance or hedging services—there simply may no longer be a need for your services.

I’m a believer in the power of marketing. But you can’t be a firm that has been in business for say 20-30 years, lose half your business to death and age-related issues over time, and expect to make that business up quickly.

The same way an advisor would tell a client to start saving for their retirement at 26 instead of 62, you can’t start marketing later in the life of your business and expect large dividends.

Suddenly deciding your firm “needs to be on LinkedIn” will not suddenly bring in streams of new business.

Start marketing, and stick with it.

Am I saying that even if you’re starting late that you shouldn’t start a LinkedIn profile? Absolutely not. You should definitely create and craft you and your company’s profile and begin establishing a presence. However, be realistic about what type of results you can expect. If you haven’t invested the time and money in building a good website, establishing a social media presence, creating and executing a marketing plan—you’re starting at square one and making your first investment. And like any first investment it will take time for that investment to grow and create returns.

Finally, you need to continue to invest in your marketing. Marketing can’t be turn on and off like a spigot. It needs to be nurtured and requires time, attention, and resources.

Ensure you stick with that email newsletter going out 3 or 4 times a year, update your social media profiles, establish a basic retargeting campaign, and keep your website current are just a few easy and cost-effective ways to continually market.

By marketing modestly and consistently, when you are ready to increase your marketing efforts, turning up your marketing efforts won’t feel like raising the dead.

Related Posts: 

Begin Marketing Your Alternative Investment Startup

Social Media for Business is Here to Stay

Financial Marketing is a Process: Defining and Executing an End-to-End Marketing Process

Shane Stiles is President of Gate 39 Media, a financial services marketing firm providing online marketing and application development for financial services across futures, equities, alternative investments and insurance.