In one video, a small boy runs back and forth near a rushing stream. In another, the boy is seen celebrating his birthday. In yet another, a girl is fishing with her father.
These are not the videos you would expect to find on a financial advisor's Web site. But advisors are becoming more adept at using video to promote themselves and build their businesses, and a variety of subject matter is popping up in their online videos, not just information.
Mark Slattery and Shannon Case have made such videos a regular feature at their firm, CaseSlattery Wealth Partners in Omaha, Neb. Though the pair also do more traditional information videos, the personal ones featuring their children and grandchildren often get the most hits.
"We are a boutique firm, and we see ourselves as family-oriented. We are concerned about our clients' families, and we think they are concerned about ours," says Slattery, which is why they added the personal videos.
But their main goal, like that of many financial advisors who use Web video as a marketing tool, is to be informative.
Though this is a relatively new marketing tool, some advisors have embraced it hoping potential clients can get to know them before they make initial contact. It's also a way to keep existing clients informed about current issues.
There are as many different ways to approach a video as there are advisors trying their hands at it.
For informational videos, Slattery and Case simply sit at a table. They recently used the forum to discuss changes in the laws for employer-sponsored retirement plans. The video is short at two minutes, 46 seconds and gives a brief overview of the subject. Anyone wanting additional information is asked to call the pair or seek educational material elsewhere. In other videos, they have covered topics such as estate planning and discussed how to find missing beneficiaries.
"We do not target any particular group or use the videos for mass marketing," Slattery says. "We get most of our clients from referrals because we want them to be a good fit for us."
Each video gets a few hundred hits, and Slattery says there is no way to measure quantitatively what it does for the practice.
"We get good comments from people about the videos," says Slattery. "We use it as another means of communication."
There are a number of approaches. Jon Ten Haagen of Ten Haagen Financial Group in Huntington, N.Y., appears regularly on financial television news shows and then puts the videos on his Web site.
"I am working with the television station to make educational pieces they can use more than once and I can put on my Web site," Ten Haagen says. "I think it gives you an edge over the competition, but only if you can back up what you say in the video."
Because he's working with the television crew, the final product has professional polish. Ten Haagen wants to become known as a retirement income specialist, and the videos help him accomplish that.
The use of videos is becoming more widespread and is a necessity for any financial advisor, according to Matt Ackermann, the executive vice president at Jennifer Connelly Interactive Productions.