RIAs and… Google? Learning From the Best Brands Around

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For an RIA to survive and thrive, long-term plans to support growth, maintain loyal customers, and incorporate innovation must be in place. Advisors, who in essence are small business owners, need to think creatively to remain relevant in today’s crowded financial advice industry.  The good news for advisors looking for that edge is that there are a number of well-known brands and companies that have modeled some best practices in their respective industries.

Below, we spotlight how these pioneering companies excelled and stood out among peers, and how RIAs can implement similar plans into their business efforts.

Apple Appeal & Retaining Clients

When you think of loyal customers, there may be no better brand example than Apple ($AAPL). Think about it: When Apple announces a new product, it creates sensational internet buzz; when the new product finally becomes available, customers camp out overnight and wait patiently, or impatiently, in front of stores across the nation to be the first to own the latest and greatest gadgets. By consistently delivering strong, “hip” products, Apple has created a dedicated following. Apple recognizes what their core audience continues to want and need and offers a variety of products at different price points (ranging from affordable to high-end), all while keeping their business model and products consistent.

What it means for RIAs: In order to create a brand that retains clients and fosters a sense of loyalty, RIAs must remember to keep their clients’ wants and needs at the forefront. Consistency is key in regard to services offered, however, any changes that the firm wants to make (expanding business, bringing on new talent, offering non-traditional services), should fold in without disrupting the core client base.

Apple in New York

The Google Recruitment Advantage

Google ($GOOG) is frequently recognized as a “Best Place to Work,” and rightfully so, given the company’s elaborate headquarters’ campus, employee perks and corporate culture.  It’s been said that Google gets over 1 million resumes each year, and hires less than 0.5 percent of applicants. While it may seem like a rigid interview process, it allows Google to genuinely hire the best candidate for each opening.

What it means for RIAs: In order to build a strong advisor base who can serve your clients at a high level, you have to look past the standard resume and look for applicants who can breathe new life into the firm. Google actively looks for creative and unique individuals, who might round out a team with their skill set or distinct knowledge base. When it comes to successful recruiting, be sure to follow suit and look for individuals who can bring something new to the table or offer clients a unique viewpoint.  Use your marketing and communications to develop a talent brand that can give your firm the edge.

T-Mobile: Cultivating Customer Satisfaction

T-Mobile ($TMUS) has been highlighted as one the top brands for exceptional customer service for years. In fact, they invest a good amount of effort into customer satisfaction because they know that one customer can easily turn into two or three additional customers down the road. T-Mobile recognizes the value in building relationships and really encourages an open dialogue. One way the company satisfies its customers is by being social. Utilizing social media channels to interact with customers on a personal level has won them recognition time and time again.

What does it mean for RIAs: Cultivating customer satisfaction is at the heart of almost every successful service business. Let’s be honest, customers are the business, without clients there would be nothing, and that is certainly true for RIAs. One key takeaway from T-Mobile’s approach to customer service is their personal attention to as many customers as possible. Also, social media is a tool that should not be ignored (pending compliance protocol, of course). Not only should RIAs utilize this medium to interact with clients and potential customers but they should also use the platform to create brand awareness. If an RIA interacts with a client and provides a positive customer experience, that client may share that experience on their social channels, broadcasting that positivity to their followers. It’s free marketing.


So, what’s the real takeaway?  Expand your thinking and look beyond what other RIAs and financial institutions are doing and learn from brands in other industries that are succeeding.

Retaining and attracting new clients or recruiting top notch talent are things that every company strives for. With some advisory firms have already taken this step, there are many more RIA firms that would benefit from stepping outside of their comfort zone and creating different social channels — a Twitter account, company Facebook page, blog – and using them in a proactive approach. We’ve talked about the use of social media before, but it is in fact a conversation with your peers, your clients and your target audience. Also, don’t be afraid to hire millennials or someone that may push the envelope. Their fresh perspective could be what takes your firm to the next level.

Editor’s Note: This post is a collaboration between Karyn and another member of the GregoryFCA team, Alexandra Spurgeon.