Ric Edelman, one of the top independent advisors in the United States, has hired a seasoned chief marketing officer to spearhead plans to expand his huge firm even more next year.

Edelman Financial Services, based in Fairfax, Va., has hired Marvin Davis, a veteran marketer with 25 years’ experience, to grow the firm’s client base, now at 22,000 and with more than $10 billion in assets. Edelman has about 33 offices around the country that primarily serve the mass affluent.

“Marvin is one of the leading marketing executives in the country. He has a long history of understanding the American consumer at Verizon, Comcast and LifeLock,” Edelman said during an interview today. “He is a very intuitive, yet metrics- and data-driven, marketing professional who can bring to us the type of ideas and executive-level thinking that we have not been able to find in the financial services arena.”

At LifeLock, a firm that protects people from identity theft and credit card fraud, Davis was responsible for the company’s marketing programs, strategic partner sales and product and strategy units; as a senior vice president and CMO of Comcast, he launched a branding campaign that was a first for the cable industry. Davis also developed and launched the widely recognized “Can you hear me now? Good!” campaign as Verizon’s vice president of advertising and brand management. Davis began working for Edelman on October 14.

Edelman Financial Services, which provides comprehensive financial planning, has added 4,000 clients this year and plans to exceed that number next year through its marketing efforts, said Edelman, who already reaches millions through his syndicated radio show that can be heard in 69 markets and television show, The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman, which airs on public television stations across the country.

Although the specifics of the firm’s marketing plan are being developed, Edelman said, the effort will build on what he and the firm already are doing to educate and bring financial planning to as many Americans as possible. Davis will oversee Edelman Financial Services’ more than 20 employees involved in communicating the firm’s message. Edelman added he expects the marketing division to grow over the coming year.

All forms of mass media will be used to reach a larger number of potential clients, Edelman said. One example he mentioned is that the firm will increase the number of seminars it does in 2014; it did approximately 500 this year.

Davis said he expects Edelman Financial Services also will increase its Internet exposure by improving the ability of potential customers to find the firm through searches and posting more content on its own site and elsewhere.

Davis said his first effort, though, will be to evaluate and more clearly segment the audience the firm wants to reach. The number of mass affluent households is between 6 million and 12 million, depending on how one defines “mass affluent,” he said. He added that the majority of mass affluent clients have assets of at least $100,000.

Unfortunately, most financial advisors are not interested in serving the less well-heeled, Edelman says. “We continue to find the financial services industry ignoring the emerging affluent and the mass affluent consumer, and that is leaving a very large percentage of American families without access to professional financial advice,” he said.

Edelman notes the firm’s investment minimum is $5,000, but it accepts clients who have less as pro bono cases. “Our perspective is that we have an obligation to the community and we will provide anyone with advice who asks for it and is willing to take it,” he said.

The firm charges an investment management fee of 2 percent on the first $150,000 of investment assets. “In other words, that $5,000 client is paying us $100 a year. … For $100 a year, there is no excuse not to hire an advisor,” Edelman said. “Our fee works out to less than what you pay to go to the movies once a month.”
 

To read more stories , click here