How to Look Like the Financial Planning Expert You Are

Here’s a secret: There are only two things your prospects need to become clients.

First, they need a personal relationship. They want to know you truly understand their situation and goals. Second, they need advice they can trust. They need to be assured that you really are an expert. The more confidence they have in your expertise, the more they are willing to pay for your advice.

Generally, financial planners have great people skills, so building a relationship with your prospects is the easy part—at least if you can get in front of them in person. However, proving your advice is trustworthy can be quite the challenge. We’ve all been around the salesy salesman who makes too much of an effort to impress us. He touts his achievements and awards with grandiosity and tells us how our lives are not complete without his product or service. Yet, as he carries on, all we can think is that this fluff is covering for a poor product or service.

So, how do you show your financial aptitude in an authentic, tasteful way without coming across as phony or ostentatious?

Here are a few recommendations on how you can position yourself as the expert you are. But there is a caveat here: To come across authentic, you must be authentic. This doesn’t mean don’t do it if it is uncomfortable. Anything new is going to be uncomfortable at first. It means only move forward with a strategy if it fits you and your business values and goals.

Promote Your Professional Memberships

Make sure to use your FPA membership—and other association memberships—in your marketing plan. Specifically with FPA, take advantage of their brand recognition by using your “FPA member” logo, along with your designations and certifications, on your website and other materials. Stay tuned for my upcoming article, “How to Leverage Your FPA Membership” for more details.

Present at Seminars and Webinars

Present seminars and webinars on hot topics like Social Security. Notice we said present and not host. Hosting a great financial seminar may be an added value to clients, but it won’t do anything for impressing upon prospects that you’re a financial expert. Sorry guys, the one speaking gets the expert credits here. We know that many fund companies will sponsor your event only if they can speak at it. If you must use them, then make sure to split the speaking time with them.

Secondly, notice we said speak on hot topics. Prospects are only going to pay attention during an event if it’s a topic they are interested in. That’s right, you might get them in the door with an incentive, but you’re not going to keep their attention. Look for topics that affect everyone, but don’t go into too many complicated details.

Warning: While presenting on a subject does have the ability to make you look like an expert, we do caution that you should practice your public speaking first and be prepared.

Be a Guest Speaker

Being a guest speaker has two additional benefits beyond the points above. As a guest speaker, you are exposed to a whole slew of new warm prospects you may not have been introduced to on your own who are interested in what you do. You also get the added benefit of having the host vouch for your expertise by asking you to speak or write.

Always be looking for connections that may offer you the opportunity to present to their clients or audience. For instance, professionals that offer complimentary services, like an estate attorney or CPA, make great seminar partners. Of course, it can be the industries that aren’t related to yours at all that provide the best opportunities. You could offer your expertise to your local chamber of commerce, or to companies who want to offer their employees information on saving and retirement.

Be a Media Source or Content Contributor

Just like being a guest speaker, being a media source or a content contributor introduces you to new prospects and validates your qualifications. It can be difficult to get your name in print for respected news outlets, but your FPA membership offers you the chance to be listed as a source with their FPA MediaSource program after you complete the media training.

Lend a helping hand to content creators by offering to contribute to or write your own blogs. Partnering with professionals with complimentary services can work here also. Many times, contributing can lead to guest speaking as well. FPA offers members opportunities to contribute to various areas including Knowledge Circles, the Journal of Financial Planning and this blog right here.

Be in the Know

Stay updated on financial changes. Make sure you’re aware of all the updates and changes to financial legislation and taxation. It never looks good to have your client explaining a new financial change to you. Take advantage of content in the profession’s publications. For instance with a simple “Tax Law” query on the FPA website, I found this great article. If I were a planner, I would know from reading this that when I meet with my client (or produce my own content) that if my client were to convert their IRA to a Roth, they would save on their future investment returns from the Roth IRA “tax-free” asset class as well as enjoy the freedom from RMDs, but they would have to foot an upfront tax bill and it may disqualify them for the lower income QBI deduction for the year in which they convert.

Imagine the difference a prospect would notice when meeting with two different planners—one who was informed of the tax bracket change the conversion may cause, and one who was not. Your being informed sparks confidence in prospects and clients.

Produce Content on Financial Topics

As you learn about the changes in the financial industry with legislation, taxes, etc., use that information in your content to position yourself as an industry expert. For instance, using the example from above, frame your newfound knowledge by telling your audience how you can help them: “You can convert your IRA to a Roth IRA to avoid paying income on your growth, but with the new tax bill, this may force you into a tax bracket you may otherwise not have been in. We can help you figure out how much you would really be saving by converting to a Roth IRA.”

Promote Awards and Recognition

We know it can be awkward to “toot your own horn,” but there are a few ways to promote your recognition in a tasteful way. Add the award logo to your website under your designations. Tell the world why this award has meaning for you. Add the logo to the bottom of your email signature. Put a press release on your website. Have someone else in your office post or send an email about you winning. Remember: Don’t say this is an important award, say why it is important.

Want help implementing these tips? Find us at

With nearly a decade of experience in the financial industry, along with securities licenses 7 & 63, Kalli Lipke not only understands the way your clients think, but how the financial industry operates. She helps financial planners bring their business to the next level through marketing and branding.

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