With over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing, Dionne Smith who is the director of UK Advisory Solutions and DPS Brand Consultancy, has extensive knowledge of working with businesses of all sizes to create a strong brand presence and developing strategies and plans that drive acquisition and retention through the sales pipeline. In our special Beyond the Brand feature, Dionne speaks to Finance Monthly about UK Advisory Solutions’ new product called Orion Content Suite and discusses trends within the digital communication arena.
UK Advisory Solutions will soon be launching a product aimed at financial advisers called the Orion Content Suite. What more can you tell us about this?
As specialists in the financial industry, we understand that advisers are challenged by the costs of running a regulated business. In an industry where building trusted relationships that last for the long term is an essential part of every advisory business. Educating clients and allowing them to make informed decisions on their financial needs is also a crucial part of the advice process and leads to stronger long-term relationships. It’s also an expectation of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), for consumers to have access to communications that are clear and informative- the term they use is fair, clear and not misleading.
The Orion Content Suite provides the opportunity to help predominantly small to medium-sized firms, as well as individual IFAs, with access to high quality communications that focus on client needs, with an overview of various solutions and services to help them reach their short, medium or long-term financial goals.
In the past, financial planning documents would usually exist in a hard copy format. Do you foresee a mass move online?
More and more firms are using online content, whether that’s in the form of a digital guide or information on their webpages. Consumers are becoming more internet savvy when it comes to finance. They want information quickly and they are conducting research this way to find out what they need to know before making a purchase or contacting an advisory firm.
Again, the FCA want to see communications available to consumers in a range of formats to make it easier for them to access the information they need.
The documents on Orion can be used in digital or print format, so they have the flexibility to download or have them professionally printed.
What benefits are there for companies to have access to readily available and pre-written financial planning documents?
The core benefit is that they can access the content quickly, brand it to their business and it’s ready to use. We have spent the time developing the content so that they can concentrate on managing their client accounts and generating new business.
We offer a range of communications, such as brochures and client guides for a variety of financial and investment needs, from retirement and estate planning, to general financial planning and investments and savings. The goal is to provide a comprehensive library of documents including advertising promotions in the coming months.
Managing financial communications, particularly when there is a change to legislation or new regulations, can be extremely time-consuming and costly for smaller firms. Whether you are using an internal team or an external agency, they at least need a copywriter, designer and compliance as well as someone to project manage everything. So if you have 100 documents and you are a small firm this could take months and cost thousands in agency fees or salaries to update if any changes need to be made.
All financial promotions have to be reviewed at least every year – for example, after the Chancellor’s Budget, and more often than not, the Autumn Statement. We take care of the auditing, version control and compliance approval as well as the content updates, design and project management, which is all covered within the licence fee and individual document cost.
Digital communication these days can make or break a company. Are you finding more and more that companies need help with it?
I think every firm deserves to have professional communications that allow them to promote their services and educate their target audience in the best way possible.
Some firms don’t always see the value in spending money in this area so they try to do it themselves and then they risk creating documents that don’t look professional, can be inconsistent and potentially overcomplicating, which will make it confusing for the consumer and can potentially damage the firms’ reputation.
Financial services, can be confusing and because products and services change on a regular basis, what someone thought they knew yesterday, may no longer be the case tomorrow or has moved on from where it was. We try, as much as possible, to keep our messages clear and help consumers see the benefits of what is available.
What are the first steps for you when working with a business to better target their website and online content?
Online marketing is a very competitive area for every business. Understanding your target audience, optimising your website and online content to the keywords and phrases that will drive leads to the business needs a consistent and flexible approach. The more content you can produce on a regular basis, not just on their own website, but also on other sites will help improve leads and conversion.
Again, this can be costly and businesses need dedicated resources to do this if they really want to make the most of their online presence.
Are there particular problems regarding financial promotions that could easily be reduced with timely professional advice?
We’ve already mentioned the requirement for keeping financial promotions up-to-date and the principle of them being fair, clear and not misleading.
This all points to maintenance, version control, diligent archiving and compliance. It is very easy to forget to destroy previous financial promotions when a new version arrives. The Orion Content Suite offers access to a suite of marketing materials and financial promotions that are professionally written, maintained and signed off as compliant. We look after the version control and the archiving so the adviser knows that when logging into the site, the financial promotion will be both up-to-date and signed off by our compliance as ‘street legal.’
What are the benefits of using financial promotions for the busy financial adviser?
Sending out an email update to 100 clients is a lot easier and quicker than arranging a meeting or calling all of them.
However, I would say that firms should try as much as possible to follow-up with the promotions they use. Whether that is by doing some sort of digital or call tracking on their website or just picking up the phone and calling their clients/prospects. The only way you will know if your marketing campaigns are working is to analyse and/or follow-up.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ultimately, it’s all about building trust and showcasing their knowledge and experience. We believe that all financial businesses, regardless of size, deserve to have access to high quality, professional communications for their clients and prospects.
The Orion Content Suite is a tool that is designed free up time and reduce costs that can be spent elsewhere in their business.