Why Your RIA Website May Suck

What You'll Learn In Today's Episode
  • Your RIA website is too important to neglect. In fact, if you structure and configure it right, it can be a prospect-gathering machine. Especially if your AUM’s in the millions, don’t risk flushing your firm’s online presence.
  • An IT degree is unnecessary to kick the tires around your site. Just look for glaring mistakes. Things like “not secure” in the browser bar are unacceptable (and potentially dangerous).
  • If the contact email at your site ends in an ISP’s domain (e.g. “yahoo.com,” “gmail.com,” et cetera), it looks amateurish. Get one for your practice (e.g. “urbanria.com”). Most internet provides include the option free as part of a business package.
  • To really reap the benefits of having a website, you need a lead magnet. This is the digital equivalent of a free fridge magnet for clients. Ideally, it’s good enough that they will give you their name and contact information in exchange for it.

Executive Summary:

drives people away, you’re wasting those hosting fees.

The RIA Website Hall of Shame

Let’s start with what Nolan calls the “honorable mentions.” These are basic mistakes that reek to visitors. In other words, they immediately flag you as having an awful advisor website.

Our first flub is when visitors see “not secure” in their browser bar. This means that your site lacks a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. You’re not providing decent protection from eavesdroppers and intruders.

In a nutshell, SSL enables encryption of the files shared between a visitor’s browser and a website. As a result, not having it means all of your site’s communication is like a postcard: Anybody online with the right tools can read it.

Next, if your website isn’t run on WordPress, that’s bad, too. Do-it-yourself platforms like Wix look shiny, but they’re not the best. Unless things change radically (which doesn’t look likely right now), WordPress has the tools and experience you need.

This one’s subtle, but just as significant: Is your email address something like businessname@gmail.com? Generic domains (e.g. “gmail.com,” “yahoo.com,” et cetera) scream “we’re amateurs!”

Get a company domain (e.g. “riaservices.com”) ASAP. Your internet service provider should offer this service.

As a matter of fact, many of them include it free when you purchase a package deal. Check in with yours. You may already have the option, though you aren’t using it.

Do you have a form on your advisor website for leads to contact you? Make sure that it works. If it doesn’t, those prospects are going into the garbage.

Reigning Chumps

The following are the absolute worst of the worst. Your website’s a sad joke if….

  1. Less than 10 people visit your advisor website each month. Double the dishonor if it’s less than a year old. You are not marketing your RIA to anyone, much less your ideal client.
  2. You are not creating content (or the content you are creating is not reaching anyone). Your niche needs to be fed. Give them specific, relevant content.
  3. There’s no lead magnet. Think of it as a freebie visitors get for giving you their name and contact information. Without one, you’re wasting time.
  4. Leads aren’t offered a clear path to take. You need to be motivating them to learn more and ultimately, to book an appointment.
  5. You have a Google PageSpeed Insights performance rating of less than 50 on either mobile or desktop browsers. Speed is crucial to achieving better conversion rates. It factors into your SEO, too.

Right the Ship

How many leads are visiting your site regularly? Do you know?

If your answer is “No,” get Google Analytics installed. Their tools and data are free to use. Start using them immediately—if only to get up to speed with your competition.

You have visited your firm’s website, right?

If you haven’t, picture us face-palming: You’re asleep at the wheel. Especially if your AUM’s in the millions, get on ASAP, look around, and kick the tires for yourself.

At the same time, don’t think we’re out to beat up on you. Instead, please consider this a wake-up call. The following are concrete steps that you can take to start turning things around.

Quick Wins

  • Change the site’s wording for wider appeal. Even if you aren’t ready to take the plunge into a dedicated niche website, at the very least, localize your website. This makes you more competitive for local searches.
  • Sign up for Google My Business. Especially if you primarily service your clients in person, this is a no-brainer. Get a free business profile that pops up when people see you in searches.
  • Create a lead magnet addressing your ideal client’s pain points. You can use our template and graphics department for free (for the time being) by downloading it at graylinemedia.com. Send it to tools@graylinemedia.com with your logo.
  • Choose a path for leads to take when they visit your website. Do you want them to sign up for your lead magnet? Or, do you want to offer a retirement assessment? Even if you just want them to call your relationship manager and get walked through setting up an initial consultation, choose a path.

Nolan has more on making your underwhelming RIA website shine in today’s RIA Marketing podcast. Feedback, suggestions, and questions to nolan@graylinemedia.com are always welcome. If you’ve received value today, we’d appreciate a 5-star review wherever you listen to your podcasts, too.

Last but not least, thank you for listening!



Today, I want to talk to you about how to tell if your RIA’s website sucks. If it does, there are concrete steps you can take to make it less sucky.

For the last three years, I have evaluated financial advisor websites to be able to provide my former employer with recommendations on how we could improve our RIA’s website.

To this day, I’m shocked at how few advisor websites use the best practices that seem to be commonplace in most other industries.

And just to be clear here: I evaluate advisor websites that are registered with the SEC with between $20 million to $100 million in AUM.

So, I’m not talking about the broke advisor who is scrapping the first three years in business. He or she at least has an excuse—but for a more mature RIA, that’s unacceptable.

I started the Advisor Niche Podcast and Gray Line Media because I want to change how some advisors view their RIA’s website.

Your website is no longer a business card that you have in the event someone stumbles across it. It might be the world’s best relationship manager for your firm.

It never sleeps, never goes on vacation, it’s full of all of the answers your ideal clients are searching for, and it’s helping you convert your leads into prospects.

I love how Kitces frames it (www.kitces.com/blog/niche-advisor-marketing-new-clients-website-microsite-practice-leader):

Imagine an advisory firm where a prospect opens the front door, walks in and looks around, nods silently to the person at the front desk, picks up the firm’s marketing materials or brochure on the front table, browses the materials for a few minutes… and walks out without saying a word.

Then, imagine that this process repeats itself – where the prospect walks in, looks around, reads the firm’s marketing materials, and walks out doing nothing – once every hour of the business day, every day of the week, every week of the month.

That amounts to almost 300 visitors per month who take the time to visit your office, look around, learn a bit about what you do… and then walk away feeling unmotivated to take action.

Now, before I continue, am I biased on advisor websites? Absolutely, but not because I own a financial advisor marketing company.

I’m biased because I’ve seen firsthand how successful, targeted websites can attract your ideal clients to your firm.

My former employer, Micah Shilanski with Plan-Your-Federal-Retirement.com, keeps a constant flow of prospective clients to his advisory firm. That’s because of his website and the value he provides his niche.

Not to mention, these prospective clients even pay him north of $500 for an initial consultation.

You likely already know about his and Matthew Jarvis’s story over on ThePerfectRIA, so I won’t belabor the point.

But, this is also a great counter to the seemingly 50%+ of advisors who don’t want to make their RIA’s website more focused on a niche. They fear alienating potential prospects.

You shouldn’t. Build a separate website from your firm’s that is 100% focused on your niche and you’ll provide incredible value to your ideal clients.

If you work with Amazon employees, then this should be the Amazonians Guide To Their Amazon Salary.com.

If you work with doctors of a specific hospital system in your area, write about how doctors can maximize their benefits in the Chicago Health System.

You need to plant the seed now so that you start seeing results 12-18 months from now.

Okay—enough about that. If you don’t know if you have a crappy financial advisor website, then go to your computer, open up your firm’s website, and let’s evaluate it together.

I’ll start with the honorable mentions. These are all of the things that are so basic they automatically flag you for having an awful advisor website: In the browser bar, does it say “not secure?”

This means that you don’t have an SSL certificate. Google that term and find someone to help you get that on your website immediately.

If your firm’s website is not run on WordPress—but is on Wix or some other do-it-yourself platform, that’s not ideal. Just stick to WordPress unless something changes in the near future—but I doubt it will.

Is your email address is businessname@gmail.com? A company domain always sounds more professional. I’d consider setting up an email for your site that ends in your RIA’s name.

Do you have a form on your website for leads to contact you… but it doesn’t work? That’s even worse. Making yourself accessible is a must-do.

Lastly, if you have no idea how many leads visit your website because you don’t even have Google Analytics installed… what can I say? You’re asleep at the wheel.

If you’ve never logged into your website to begin with, that’s even worse.

I run into all of these automatic qualifiers more than I want and again: I’m talking about firms between $20 million and $100 million in AUM.

Okay—I’m about to give you the top 5 reasons why a website sucks. When we’re done with that, I’ll provide you with some action items you can implement to help turn yours around.

Reason #1 - If you have less than 10 visitors a month to your website (and it isn’t less than 1 year old), then your financial advisor website sucks. 99.9% of the time, this tells me that you are not marketing your RIA to anyone, much less your ideal client. At an absolute minimum, if you meet your clients in person, then at least focus your website on the geographic area you serve. I’ll touch on this more in a minute.

Reason #2 – If you are not creating content—or the content you are creating is not reaching anyone, then your advisor website sucks. It pains me when I see an advisor creating content that isn’t performing. A lot of the time it’s content relating to the markets and it’s extremely unspecific for the niche. With websites, past performance is indicative of future results. If you aren’t getting any traction with your articles after 6-12 months, then you need to change up how you are creating your content.

Reason #3 - Along the same lines as not being specific, if your advisor website does not offer a lead magnet to help your ideal client overcome the obstacles that you commonly address with your clients… You guessed it: your advisor website sucks. A lead magnet is an extremely valuable tool. It helps set the tone for whether or not your lead will turn into a prospect.

That lead has trusted your RIA enough to give you their name and email address. It’s your opportunity to impress them. If you don’t provide them with enough value and address their specific pain points, you’ve lost the opportunity to convert them into a future client.

I believe in having a lead magnet so much that we’ve written additional articles about this. I’ll even help you design your lead magnet, absolutely free. Simply download our template at graylinemedia.com and you can see a template that will help you craft your lead magnet. Then, send it to tools@graylinemedia.com, along with your logo. We’ll craft an eye-catching lead magnet to greet and intrigue your website visitors

But whether we do your lead magnet, another design company does it, or you attempt it yourself, please take the time to offer this on your website.

Reason #4 - If you don’t have a clear path for your leads to take, then your advisor website sucks. At the very least, you need to be motivating them to learn more and book an appointment.

If you go back to my analogy about the website being the world’s greatest relationship manager, you need it to guide your visitors along the path that’s most helpful for them. We do this through “call to action” buttons on your website. Whether it’s a “Get Your Retirement Assessment” or “Book An Appointment,” you need something compelling them to take that next step. Many advisor websites don’t have a clear path. Sometimes I even stumble upon the Contact-Us link at the very bottom of the footer on the website.

Reason #5 - If you have a Google PageSpeed Insights performance rating of less than 50 in either mobile or desktop browsers, then your advisor website sucks. Speed is crucial to achieving better conversion rates. It’s important for SEO, or a “search engine optimized” website, too www.neilpatel.com/blog/google-pagespeed-insights.

What may be even more frustrating is that your score can fluctuate every time you add new content, plugin, lead pages, et cetera to your website. I’d recommend your website development team evaluate your PageSpeed Insights score on a monthly basis and develops a plan to improve it.

I want this podcast to be about quick wins; things you can implement to start seeing improved results on your financial advisor website soon. So, even if your advisor website is less than stellar, here’s how I’d recommend improving it.

Quick Win #1: If you are struggling to gain any traction on your website, change the wording to appeal more.

What do I mean by this? Let’s say you’ve had a website for several years and are creating content semi-regularly... with less than 10 visitors: You are speaking to no one.

Even if you aren’t ready to take the plunge into a dedicated niche website, at the very least, localize your website. This makes you more competitive for local searches.

Quick Win #2: Along those same lines, if you primarily service your clients in person, sign up for Google My Business and improve your local search engine optimization.

Quick Win #3: Create a lead magnet that addresses your ideal client’s pain points. The goal is to provide real value. You can use our template and graphics designer for free (for the time being) by downloading it at graylinemedia.com. Next, send it to tools@graylinemedia.com with your logo. We’ll have a link to that address in our show notes.

While you’re at it, sign up for MailChimp or ConvertKit to start capturing your lead names and email addresses. That way you can slowly start to nurture this relationship.

Quick Win #4: Decide what path you want leads to take when they come to your website. If you just want them to sign up for the lead magnet so you can start building a connection, great. If you decide you want to offer a retirement assessment and you have a process for what that looks like, then great.

If you just want them to call your relationship manager and get walked through setting up an initial consultation, then great. But, choose a path. If you intend on converting them into prospects, your leads should feel as if you’re speaking to them and holding their hand through the process.

By the way, if I’ve provided you with any value in this episode, would you do me a favor? I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts—or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

I’m Nolan Martin with the RIA Marketing Podcast. We at Gray Line Media thank you for listening to our podcast.

I also want you to know that we are determined to help RIAs connect with their Superfans and Ideal Future Clients through remarkable websites and relatable content.

My only question is, “Will it be your RIA?”