Until fairly recently, many of the top advisors I knew were surprisingly complacent about lead generation. These top advisors had built strong referral networks, were well known in their local area, and in many cases had limited direct competition. They were often operating at near full capacity, so they raised their minimum fees or AUM minimums and referred clients who did not meet the criteria to other firms. Among these top firms, it was not uncommon to hear that 90% or more of their new business came from referrals.

But a number of disruptions over the years have altered the status quo, even among the top firms. For one thing, former referral sources are becoming competitors. The CPA firms advisors once used as their best sources have opened up their own wealth management divisions. So have banks. A major custodian, Charles Schwab, recently launched Schwab Intelligent Advisory, and though a spokesperson says it targets the mass affluent, not the traditional users of independent advisors, it is highly likely that the new service will attract at least some independent advisories’ desirable prospects.

Technology has been another disrupter. Video conferencing and cloud applications have allowed advisors to break down geographic barriers, so independents are not just competing with the firm across the street, but potentially with firms across the country. Schwab Intelligent Advisory offers web conferences with a CFP and interactive financial planning software. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services offers some planning from a CFP as well as video conferencing. These services charge a fraction of what independent advisors typically do, and are backed by nationally known brands.

With competition for new clients increasing, and fee compression a reality, advisors need to explore new methods of attracting prospects and converting them into clients. This is an area where technology can help.

Much has been written about using public relations, web searches, social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and blogs to position you and your firms as experts, so we will not cover those tools here. Instead, we will look at some technologies, many from firms you already know, that offer a lead generation component.

eMoney, a popular financial planning application that many readers are already using, is rolling out a number of tools to help advisors acquire new clients. The company’s new Lead Generation Tool, previewed at the Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference in February and due for release in June, is a refined version of the winning submission at the Fall 2016 eMoney Hackathon. The tool, accessible through a unique URL that your firm can provide to prospects through multiple channels (your website, blog, social media, etc.) provides a way for prospects to select a goal, identify a need, and access a streamlined path to get advice. A welcome screen asks for minimal information (the client’s age and current income). Next, clients select a goal (retirement or another saving objective). They are then prompted to provide a few more data points (their retirement age, the percentage of income they want at retirement, their current assets, their current savings, etc.).

With the information collected on the first screen, eMoney can get a rough estimate of what this client’s retirement might cost, and his or her likelihood of reaching the goal. If there is a shortfall, the tool offers come strategies that will improve the odds of success (save “X” dollars more per year, lower income in retirement expectations, retire “X” years later).

The prospects are then invited to request a consultation with you. If they do, all the information they entered in the tool is available to you within eMoney.

The lead generator will be available at no extra charge to all emX licensees.

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