Entering the world of finance and investing can be scary for new investors, unfamiliar with how it all works.  The more foreign and intimidating, the less likely the business is to attract new investors.  About 94% of American households have a bank account, but fewer than 60% of American adults own any kind of stock. That means there are literally tens of millions of potential customers out there who would benefit from good financial advice and services. 

There are three big themes within the advice below.  The first is to take as much of the mystery out of getting started as possible.  The second is to make sure your branding shows your softer side.  The third is to use your new clients to continue to evolve and get better.

Display Your Fees

The biggest reason people do not seek the help of financial experts, even when they would really benefit from such services, is that they believe it will be too expensive.  Many would-be investors let out a huge breath of relief when they learn that financial services are actually quite affordable, but until they know, they are nervous.  Since many people are concerned about being embarrassed at possibly not being able to afford the rates, your company can remove that initial obstacle by publishing fees right up front. 

Explain How You Make Money

The second part of being upfront and transparent is to explain how your firm makes money.  People hate the feeling that they might be getting taken advantage of.  The less they understand how you make money, the more they will worry that they are being cheated.  Customers don’t want to feel foolish.  Build trust by explaining your business model. 

Give Something Away for Free

Give the people browsing your website something without needing an account or paying money.  Even something as simple as an online calculator to help a potential customer figure out what compound interest would look like at different interest rates can make customers feel like you respect their independence and participation in the investing process. 

Provide Beginner Education Tools

It’s common practice to set up an FAQ page.  Go one step further and provide a glossary of terms.  Not only will having key terms and phrases on your site give you better search engine ratings, but you will increase the chance that your new customers will come to the table better educated, saving your staff time getting them up to speed.

Soften Your Brand

There are three components to branding your company as approachable and accessible, especially as compared to your peers.  The first is to describe how your business is friendlier.  The second is to use imagery that shows you have empathy for your customers.  The third is to underscore your branding with how your customer wants to be viewed because they use your services, such as being responsible or heroic.

Put a Face to Your Company

People hire firms, rather than doing it themselves, because they want help.  So, make the experience as personal and personable as possible.  Put the faces of your employees front and center in your media, to show that you are also people.

Have a 24/7 Live Answering Service

No one enjoys listening to a list of prompts and pressing what they hope is the right number for the correct extension that will, maybe, hopefully, lead to the person they need.  Give anyone taking the initial step of reaching out to your company a person to talk to, right away.  Simply put, use a live answering service when your office is closed. 

Help the Community

Show up for the community you want to do business with.  If your target zip code is holding a neighborhood clean-up, order some corporate t-shirts and get in there.  When the high school in your target town is putting on a musical, buy an ad in the program or sponsor the set design.  Customers who see you helping will believe in the quality of your company.

Learn to Speak without Jargon

Using sophisticated language is great when your customer is sophisticated.  It’s awful when your customer has no idea what you mean.  Using industry terms when speaking to new customers will make them feel alienated and even embarrassed.  Tell your staff, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. 

Ask Customers for Feedback

Be willing to learn as you work.  Ask current customers what they like and don’t like about what you do.  Take what they say seriously.

Encourage Honest Reviews

Whether you like it or not, many people will feel more comfortable being honest when they don’t have to say negative things to your face.  When clients leave reviews, read them.  Some may be sour grapes, but there are lessons to be learned from all types of feedback.

Ask Questions in New Places

Soliciting feedback from existing customers only gets you information about the demographics you already have.  If you are looking to expand, spend time listening to the people from the segments you don’t have yet.  Notice that this is about listening, asking questions and then listening some more, not about giving a sales pitch.  If you want to operate differently, you have to learn what you don’t already know.