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Establishing your RIA brand

So, you’re starting your own RIA.

You’ve filed all the right forms, you’ve informed your previous employer and now it's time to officially launch your firm.

Even with years or decades of experience serving clients, starting your own registered investment advisory firm can be daunting. It’s a new kind of challenge – beyond the hurdles of finding a custodian, building an RIA tech stack, and addressing industry regulations, you are now responsible for establishing your own brand.

This is no small feat, but it’s something that every growth-minded RIA must do when starting out. Here are four steps to get started. 

#1 Launch your website

First impressions matter. A recent Stanford study found that 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s web design.1

As you get started with your new RIA, it’s essential that you have a new website ready for launch. This website should, at the very least, include some information on your company, the types of clients you serve, and how people can get in touch to learn more.

The website can start with these basic points but can build and expand over time. Some areas you should consider exploring for your website as you build your business include thought leadership content (i.e., blogs, podcasts, market updates) and company updates (i.e., announcements on new hires, new office locations, expanded service offerings).

There are countless vendors, both in and outside of the industry, who can help your team build your website. While it may be tempting to task junior tech-savvy team members with building your firm’s online presence, an investment in third-party experts can help ensure that your website will serve you well for years to come.

#2 Announce the news

Standing out from the crowd is never easy. Depending on your location, if you were to Google the phrase “financial advisors near me,” you may need to filter through pages of results before finding anything related to your business. So, how do you cut through the noise? It all starts with search engine optimization (SEO).

As your firm becomes more active online (publishing content relevant to your business), your SEO rankings will grow. This means that when people search for terms in Google related to the content your firm is publishing, your firm will appear higher in the Google rankings. But growing those rankings takes time and consistent effort. That’s why we recommend that newly launched RIAs take an SEO shortcut: publishing a press release.

This release is an opportunity to tell your story – your history, your differentiators and why you chose to launch an RIA. You can share this release on your website, and for a fee, you can publish it through a third-party provider like PRNewswire, GlobeNewswire, or Business Wire. When you publish using one of these wire services, your news gets syndicated across dozens of online news outlets, providing an immediate SEO boost. That means when people search for your name or financial advisors in your area, they will likely see that press release pop up.

These press releases are a great way to spread your new name and brand story and will live online forever – so even a few years down the line, prospects looking into your business will find the news and get a good insight into why you could be a fit for them.

#3 Establish social media accounts

While social media may be uncharted territory for your team, it has become an increasingly viable method for client acquisition and increasing brand recognition. These accounts can provide followers with a window into your firm's culture, values and differentiators that visitors may not see when simply looking at your team’s website.

These pages can be quickly updated to share information on new offerings, opportunities, and events – helping you to curate an online community of clients and prospects. The question you need to answer: which platforms make the most sense for your clients?

If your clients are business-savvy, they may be more likely to spend their time on LinkedIn. If you serve primarily next-generation clients, you may want to consider leveraging a platform like Instagram. There is no right answer; it’s all about finding where your ideal clients spend their time and meeting them where they are.

#4 Establish a Google brand account and claim your business

A website, press release and social media are great ways to begin building your brand, but without a Google brand account, your clients and prospects could struggle to find your information.

Setting up a Google Brand account is easy and allows you to update your firm’s info visible in Google searches. This account, separate from a personal Google account, helps to build SEO and ensure important information and updates on your business are easily accessible in Google. To make a Google Brand Account, you simply need to establish a new profile on Google My Business or YouTube – the process is explained through Google’s online support pages here.2

In addition to building your Google Brand Account, it’s important that you claim your new RIA business through Google My Business. Claiming your business adds information on your company to Google search, Google Maps, and other Google sites. The whole process3 takes just a few steps:

  • Sign in to the Google My Business app using the personal Google account that you’d like associated with the business
  • Click to add your first business
  • Enter your business name and information
  • Agree to the Terms of Service.

Hit the ground running

Breaking away isn’t easy. There are seemingly countless factors to consider, from informing clients to finding office space and everything in between. With all the commotion, it’s important that you don’t let building your brand fall off your radar.

One important note: a couple of years ago, the SEC released new guidance on how RIAs can advertise their offerings. There are now more opportunities and avenues that advisors can use to let the world know that you’re starting your own RIA. We recommend every RIA takes the time to read and understand this rule to ensure all of your marketing activities are compliant with the new regulations.4

Starting an RIA is a major move for the future of your team, your clients, and your business. By following these four steps and ensuring you do so compliantly, you can help ensure that your story reaches the right people and sets your RIA on the path to success.

  1. Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility. Retrieved April 13, 2021
  2. Manage your brand account. Retrieved April 06, 2021
  3. Add or claim your business on Google My Business. Retrieved April 06, 2021
  4. Investment Adviser Marketing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Published April 28, 2021

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