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Improve Client Experience Through the Proper Use of Internet Technology

By Taylor Liao, CFP

Our profession is quite special: everyone needs it, yet its public recognition is low, especially in Taiwan. Usually when we talk to the public about financial planning, we have to do a lot of explaining to make sure they understand what we are talking about. Because of the complexity of our job and low recognition of the public, we need the help of internet technology to promote the financial planning profession.

Internet Resources Are Free

We must be grateful for the technology that we have today. The innovation of the Internet  has created many free resources for us: Google, Facebook, Dropbox, WordPress and the like. I remember in 1994, I was thinking of building a website for myself as a window to the public. It would be used for selling products and recruiting new members (I was servicing at Aetna Life Insurance in Taiwan). At that time, all websites that were available in Taiwan were around $2,000 and there was no free software. I finally built a website; the domain name was the same as my name: and I had to pay extra for a software package to build the webpage. This cost me US $1,000/year and then I paid US $5,000 for Yahoo keyword searching. Now, you can create blogs using WordPress and market yourself on various channels such as YouTube, all for free. We have a lot of resources that can be used, and the great thing is, they are all free! So, why not use them to help your business?

The Younger Generation Uses the Internet to Connect

Today’s younger generation prefers to connect with the world through the Internet. They don’t read newspapers anymore. If we want to get in touch with potential clients, we must learn how to use online marketing and get comfortable with it. Internet tools have a commonality: they are low pressure for consumers. Consumers can browse the internet, without having to worry about salespeople pressuring them to buy. The internet also allows professionals to have a vast reach: a personal blog to record our experiences dealing with clients, a website to promote our business and teach about financial planning, several social media channels to communicate with clients and the public, etc. The public can use search engines to find our websites and blogs, and after reading our material, they might turn into clients. When used properly, these resources can really aid your business.

Affiliate Marketing Technology

One advantage of the internet is that it allows us to proactively promote ourselves to clients. It shouldn’t be used to simply build a website and wait impassively for somebody to visit it. For example, our firm uses affiliate marketing technology to reach potential clients. Affiliate marketing is like advertising. In the past, we would use our advertising budget to pay a media channel such as television or newspaper to have an advertisement that promoted our products. Now, we spread our advertisement budget out to many bloggers and website owners. We use an affiliate marketing website that is like a shopping mall on the internet. Sellers upload their products and bloggers promote the products – the website currently has 40,000 bloggers. These bloggers post an article to promote our training courses and financial planning. Once a user reads our webpage of training courses, and makes an order, the affiliate marketing system traces where the referral came from and we pay the blogger.

Selling Training Courses Online

First, we put together the content for our training courses on their website, and then we organized an experience program for 20 bloggers to listen to one of our courses. After listening to our courses, the bloggers wrote articles about their experience of the lessons and gave positive testimonials. These articles are published in the same place, on the affiliate website, so that users can browse the reviews from the bloggers and go to our webpage. Users can order the training courses and pay for it online. The blogger then receives a certain percentage of money from us as a reward for his/her promotion. Our cost of doing this is an initial payment for building the system and then reoccurring fees for the referrals. The great thing is, we only pay the referral fee after we receive an order. This is one example of how we use the internet to promote our business. It should be easy for you to find innovative ways to develop your business online, too.

Financial Planning is More than Just Finance

Do you feel like you are using unique strategies in your company? Financial planning is not just about financial data; it’s a combination of financial knowledge, psychological counseling, selling skills, and life experience. People come to us and ask for our recommendation of their financial status.

I have found that every client has a special and independent case, even if it has the same goals and desired outcomes of other clients, it is unique because of the client’s circumstance. Imagine what it is like for a new client who has been referred to us by their friend. They might not have a clue about financial planning. Wouldn’t it be better for them if you send an email that finalizes the date and includes a link to your blog or website? Then, he/she could browse your data and get an introduction to financial planning. This client will be more confident about your work and you, and in return, this will help the first meeting run much smoother.

Internet tools can also be helpful when hiring new employees for your firm. Consider newcomers who only have the theoretical knowledge of financial planning but no actual experience. What if you had a blog that had stories of your personal experiences with clients? Every day or every week, just spend a little bit of time on your blog and eventually it will become a valuable asset which new employees can learn from.

Don’t Get Left Behind

Don’t get left behind with internet technologies. Make it a priority to take advantage of different channels, they are your voice to communicate with clients, team members, and other planners.

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