Hosting events for investors has long been a cornerstone of financial advisors’ practice development efforts. Educational seminars, in particular, are a popular way for advisors to build a relationship with prospects, enabling advisors to position themselves as trustworthy experts while providing valuable insights to attendees.
Although virtual events, including webinars, for advisors, were surging in popularity before the pandemic, that wasn’t true of advisor-hosted events for investors. Instead, advisors largely clung to the belief that meeting attendees face-to-face was essential to landing new clients and deepening relationships with existing ones at their events.
So when the COVID-19 shutdowns suddenly took the possibility of in-person events off the table, advisors quickly had to learn how to navigate the technology and techniques of engaging investors online.
As advisors discovered, virtual events such as webinars offer a number of advantages over traditional in-person events, including:
- Flexibility. Problems like bad weather or bad traffic can happen. If unexpected developments keep registrants at home, an in-person event can quickly become a financial loss. The opportunity to engage that prospect may be lost too until the next scheduled event. Virtual events are more convenient for busy prospects and clients, and the advisor can still engage and educate no-shows by automatically sending the recording.
- Efficiency. Instead of traveling around the area to host five in-person events for 10 investors each, an advisor can host one webinar for 50 investors (or significantly more), and then continue to offer that webinar on-demand to new prospects who visit her website after the event.
- Cost savings. Webinar platforms enable advisors to host events more often—and for more people—at a fraction of the cost of meeting space, catering and equipment rentals for in-person events.
The benefits that advisors discovered as they ramped up their digital marketing efforts over the last couple of years hold true whether the world is in a pandemic or not.
Yet, based on our recent survey, advisors expect 60% of their events in 2022 to be in-person, with 40% virtual, including live events on social media platforms.
And when it comes to ranking the marketing activities they consider most important to their practice this year, more advisors put in-person events (39.3%) than virtual events (25.5%) among their top three. The cost savings and efficiency alone should make webinars more profitable and less risky.
So why are advisors still relying so heavily on in-person events?
Advisors believe that webinars feel more challenging and less effective than in-person events. As asset managers have learned over the years from hosting their own webinars for advisors, when everyone isn’t sitting in the same room:
- It’s harder to keep attendees’ attention
- It’s harder to “read” the audience and adjust the presentation to what they seem to find most engaging
- It’s harder to convert virtual attendees to scheduled appointments or sales
But asset managers have far more experience and resources for webinars than advisors do. So, these challenges present a valuable opportunity for firms to help advisors grow their practices more effectively and efficiently, by increasing the ROI of their virtual events.
In fact, we specifically asked advisors what types of asset manager support for virtual events would be most valuable. In all, at least 20% of advisors ranked eight different items among the top three types of support they’d like. One top theme is offering more engaging and visually interesting content for advisors to use in their webinars. In fact, the most popular response was for firms to provide a fresh, creative approach to popular presentation topics (43.9%).
But even the best content in the world means little if the advisor isn’t getting the right prospects and clients to attend—and then persuading them to take the next step. So marketing help was another key theme, especially providing more compelling calls-to-action they can use to drive more one-on-one meetings after the event (34.3%).
Our "3 Opportunities to Help Advisors Succeed in Digital Marketing" report further explores how the pandemic has changed the ways that advisors will market their practice going forward and identifies three key opportunities for firms of any size to help advisors more effectively leverage the power of digital marketing to grow their book of business. Download the "3 Opportunities to Help Advisors Succeed in Digital Marketing" report to learn more.
Written by Tracy Needham
Sr. Business Research Analyst, Research, Analytics and Consulting