There was a time when you could provide clients with a prospectus along with your recommendation, and that would be enough. Your clients would go home, read it, and get back to you with a yay or nay.
Just as your recommendation is one slice of data the client considers when making an investment decision, the prospectus is another. There could potentially be many other data slices that you don’t know about.
According to a recent LIMRA study, the number of people who researched individual insurance or annuity products online increased from 38% in 2006 to 61% now. Reasons clients flock to their keypads: research companies and product offerings, seek product information, and compare prices.
The good news from LIMRA’s study is that sixty-nine (69%) of survey participants view their advisor as the most valuable and influential source for information.
The dangerous aspect of the online validation trend for advisors is that there is no way of knowing where clients go for more about the investments or strategies you recommend. They could Google-step right into the lair of your biggest competitor. They may discover that certain sites make investments sound so easy that they begin to think they don’t need an advisor after all.
The best way to deal with the validation impulse is to feed it. When you recommend a strategy or product, give your client online resources that you’ve confirmed support your recommendation. Sure, you can hand out pamphlets and brochures, but do something that will settle the twitchy fingers. Provide links to online articles or websites that have credible information.
The best-case scenario is to link resources to your own website. For example, your website could have a knowledge center or research room. You don’t have to draft all of the content, but rather link to credible sources. That way you become both the primary and secondary source of information. You provide the path to validation and guided the decision-making process.