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Episode 14: 
Reviews and Reputation Management For Financial Advisors
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Show Notes:
In this episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast, We focus on how you can maximize your reviews as well as manage your reputation through the online platform. We discuss how essential it is to focus on your target demographic, stay true to your clients, and minimize the amount of exceptions you make to maximize your online reviews and keep your reputation in good standing. So, push PLAY and join us as we delve into how to bring in more positive reviews, manage your reputation, and grow your business!

Read The Transcript Of The Episode:

Speaker 1: This is the Ultimate Advisor podcast, the podcast for financial advisors who want to create a thriving, successful, and scalable practice. Each week we'll uncover the ways that you can improve your referrals, your team, your marketing, and your business operations. Helping you to level up your advising practice, bring in more assets and create the advising practice that you've dreamed of. You'll be joined by your hosts, Brian Sweet, who has more than half a billion dollars in assets under management, Brittany Anderson, the driving force for advisors looking to hire, improve their operations and company culture and Draye Redfern, who can help you systematize and automate your practices marketing to effortlessly attract new clients. So what do you say? Let's jump into another amazing episode of the Ultimate Adviser podcast.

Draye Redfern: Hey everyone, welcome back to the Ultimate Adviser podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Draye Redfern, alongside today...

Brittany Anders: Brittany Anderson.

Draye Redfern: And we are so glad to have you here. Where in this episode, we're going to talk about something that exists in the gray area with financial advisors, with FINRA, with many broker dealers, and that is review and reputation management. Here's the reality. You can't really ask for reviews. You know this, it's basically, we can't have testimonials displayed on sites. You know this, however, with big, big companies like Facebook, like Google, like Yelp, that doesn't necessarily stop someone from going and leaving a review on your behalf. Whether it's positive and they had the great experience or negative and they didn't have such a great experience.
 So in this episode today we're going to talk about how you can maximize those online reviews. Again, we're not asking for them, minimize the downside or the chances you're going to get some of those negative reviews. And what all of this essentially means for your firm and how you can use it in your favor to stand away from the pack while still abiding by all of the guidelines and rules and things that your broker, dealer or FINRA has put out there. So lots to cover today, Brittany.

Brittany Anders: I am super excited on today's topic and part of it is, is we're going to actually tie this into why it is so essential, not just important, but essential for you to really keep your focus on who your target demographic is, staying true to your ideal client and minimizing the amount of exceptions you make because of the potential risk involved when it comes to your reputation. So we're going to talk about that as well and tie that into what Draye is going to touch on with the reputation management and review maximization. So we are going to dive right in.

Draye Redfern: Yeah, I love it. So here's the... I want to start this with probably like a personal story and it's a story that you may have actually heard about because this story had received more than 400 million impressions across the globe. And that's a story of a photographer who ran a very, very successful business. Most photographers make about $40,000 a year on average. This photographer was doing about 20 times that every single year. Very successful business, a wonderful business owner, been in business for 13 years, offering a professional service like many financial advisors do, and had an amazing base of clientele in which her primarily clientele was billionaires, celebrities, and professional athletes.
 That's really the clientele that a lot of financial advisors want to go after because they also have a higher net worth. So this photographer had done everything right, had amazing clientele, 13 years of very successful business. And all of a sudden there was this one client who came along and this client saw an opportunity and this client was a blogger. This client was one of the social media, 'expert' and a blogger who could essentially steer her 50,000 followers, which really isn't that much in the grand scheme of things, but it's enough. She could steer those 50,000 followers in a varying direction in whatever way she saw fit.
 So what happened was this photographer shot this wedding and the client, this blogger loved, loved, loved the images. Here's the funny part, they loved the images. They went through this whole process. They were raving about them and when it came time to choose their wedding album out, this blogger saw this opportunity of not wanting to abide by the contract that she signed because she wanted a nicer cover, she wanted all of these things on this album. And she didn't want to abide by the contract and saw an opportunity to go to the news, manufacturer a story and lie in order to get more hits and more traffic to her blog.
 Because the more people that visited her blog, the more money she made from ad revenue. So here's the thing, this blogger goes to the news and makes up this whole fabricated story and the news station loves it. The story of the photographer's holding my images hostage, was essentially run on a Friday night at 10:30 and by 10:35 that night, this photographers business, 13 years of hard work was completely destroyed and burned to the ground because this woman just wanted her 15 minutes of fame and she wanted the money, the ad revenue from people visiting her website.
 Well that photographer with a 13 year old business, successful, 12 employees, was my wife. Fast forward five years that we've been through this all now, it was an absolute emotional roller coaster and the story aired on Friday night, by 10:35 at night, 13 years of hard work had been completely wiped away because someone just saw an opportunity to do something just awful and destroy all of that hard work. Well, we ended up filing suit three days later we filed suit and it took three years to play out in court. The jury awarded a seven figure verdict, which doesn't really mean anything in the legal system these days.
 But they awarded a seven figure verdict and the subsequent week afterwards, the story of winning, the photographer fighting back, the business owner fighting back, got 400 million views across the world. She was on CNN and Good Morning America and In Time and USA Today, she was everywhere for a period of that week. Because it was one of the first instances of a business owner fighting back against the customer. Because there's this old adage that the customer is always right and it's not true. We know that, but we do it to appease them because of the potential recourse that may arise and these sorts of things.
 But I'll tell you, going through this five year process and it destroyed us financially, going through it because we had a very successful, very, very high six figure business. I was starting my agency at the time, my media agency and we were in a really tough spot financially. We were about $500,000 in debt, most of which was credit card debt in order to fund the lawsuit and actually keep living. That's the cost that this thing actually took for us. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees on top of that.
 So I shared this with you because this is the downside. This is the worst case scenario that could happen. Is it going to happen to you and your advising firm? Most likely not, that's the reality. But having been through the worst case scenario and having gone through and come out on the other side and we built our companies back up, we've done a lot of amazing things. We won the lawsuit. There's a lot of other things that you could probably do to mitigate the downside of people leaving negative reviews, whether you ask for them or not, obviously, maximizing positive reviews, whether you asked for them or not.
 Obviously we want to not ask for them and abide by the rules, but do this in your favor to set you up for success. And ultimately, that comes down to running a very successful business. That's a tight ship where you really focus on your avatar, focus on your clients and focus on the ways that you can essentially best serve your niches. Because this particular person, this blogger was one of the lower end clients and this was one of those situations where you are serving billionaires and celebrities and professional athletes and you make an exception. And that exception ended up being one of the scenarios that was the nail in the coffin that ended up destroying the business.
 So what we're going to share with you today isn't just anecdotal, it's not just hyperbole or theoretical. This is actual stuff that matters. And maybe you may never go through it, but maybe you know someone that will. Because the reality that we live in these days, is that everyone themselves is a keyboard warrior because you can say anything on the keys because there's a screen separating you from that person. You don't have to say it to their eyes and people can be really hurtful. And just to give you a couple of examples, like on Yelp, some of these negative reviews, like one person said that my wife gave them AIDS.
 This is the level of just absolute insanity that goes on when people don't know her, have never worked with her, but they jump on this internet bandwagon to just help destroy and leave negative reviews because the news aired a very one sided story. So how can we reduce, eliminate or mitigate the downside while maximizing the upside and your reviews and reputation management? That is really going to start, as a financial advisor, with you getting really clear on that clientele, the base and who you serve. And Brittany, I know you have a lot of things to sort of weigh in on that part.

Brittany Anders: Yeah, I think that there's a couple of things that come to mind here. When you're looking at identifying your ideal and like Draye talked about, you might have this ideal demographic, a high net worth focus. Those are your bread and butter. Those are the people that you target, the people you know you can best serve. It goes actually further than the asset level, right? So when you look at identifying who your ideal client is, when you go through that exercise, you need to think about mindset as well.
 So is this person, are they delegators? Are they positive in nature? Are they fun to be around? Are they people that actually want to build a relationship with you versus be transactional in nature? Those are the types of questions you need to ask yourself to ensure that your matching with the right individual. So again, you can mitigate that risk of having somebody just kind of go off the handle and do something that is completely not true. That is against what you offer, the services that you provide.
 So it's important to really identify what are your key points, when you're looking at your ideal clientele, how can you ensure that you are a personality match for them? And that you really get to the core of who they are as an individual, so you enjoy working together. But again, you've got to take that one step further because this also applies to your internal teams. So we've talked about the hire and making sure that you're surrounded by good people, making sure you have the right team members to support your clientele.
 If you don't do your homework and if you don't ask the right questions in the interview process, in the pre-interview process, you could end up with a team member that actually attempts to bring your business down. That probably happens or not probably, that definitely happens more often than a client coming after you and defaming you. Team members internally can try to essentially burn the ship from the inside. So again, it's making sure that you are going deep, you are slow to hire, you know the whole mantra, we've talked about this before. Slow to hire, quick to fire.
 Making sure that you really vet who is best match with your values as a company, who actually honors the services that you provide both internally and externally, and who's going to be on your side and work together with you in a collaborative relationship versus, like Draye's example, very drastic example, but one that's very close to home, within his home. You want to mitigate that and eliminate or minimize that risk as much as possible.
 So this applies, this whole topic just applies in so many different facts. It's a business overall is getting clear on who you serve, making sure you're asking the right questions, going deeper than the surface level. Don't get hungry after the proverbial dollar just because somebody comes and they can pay your fee, they're willing to do that. It doesn't mean that they're necessarily the right match for you. So I think it applies to so many different facets of business overall.

Draye Redfern: I totally agree and it's one of those things where we do, we get in our own way sometimes when it comes to taking on new business and we make exceptions like, okay, we have maybe a $200,000 minimum. Okay, if that's the case, oh maybe they're at 180, but they also have this and this and well, it's close to the cusp of where you would take the business, but maybe they're not an ideal fit. A lot of us justify and we sell ourselves on the idea, well they're close enough or we'll make the exception or this will be different.
 And maybe it is and maybe it isn't and the hope I think from this episode is that maybe it just brings a little bit more awareness to you when you take some of these individuals on of maybe the exception is good, maybe it's not, but at least you're more aware of it and you're making more conscious decisions when it comes to taking on those questionable clients.
 So that being said, and when it comes to review and reputation management, obviously every broker or dealer is going to have slightly different rules. FINRA has their own rules, but in general you can't ask for these reviews. So that being said, how do we use this to maximize the upside and minimize the downside? Well, we told you how you can minimize the downside, pick some of the right fit clients, have your procedures in place to vet them. Whatever it is that you do to really protect from the bottom side.
 On the top side, as far as maximizing the positive reviews, that's actually really simple. Just offer great service. Now, most financial advisors, they would all say, and I think we did a survey of this not too long ago, and they all basically said that we offer above average service. But if everyone is offering above average service, then every client would be happy with where they are and they don't want to change their financial advisors and no one would ever move.
 That's not the reality. Everyone thinks that they're in a better position than they actually are. That's just the reality with how humans and psychologically that we work. So that being said, if every financial advisor, most financial advisors rate their customer service as above average, what can you do to excel even far, far above that? So that begs the question then what can you do to follow up with clients, to maybe send them handwritten notes, to wish them happy birthday more.
 To go out of your way to show you that you actually are different, than you actually are care and you actually offer excellent or extraordinary service, instead of just a above average. So think of some of the ways, I would encourage you to do that. And we'll have more episodes on this, on the podcast and some of the ways that you could probably build some of these things into your practice to increase your client retention and increase the amount of referrals that you may receive.
 But I also want to shift gears here just for a second because when it comes to five star reviews, again, we're not asking for these things, but if someone leaves a five star review on Google and you have another prospect sitting out there and that prospect is not happy with their current financial advisor. That financial advisor thinks that they offer above average service, but this particular prospect or client has never received a phone call from their advisor or maybe they get an annual check-in or maybe that advisor just does the bare minimum and this client is fed up.
 So this client hops on Google and they're going to go looking for a new financial advisor in your area. If you have a five star review and you have your sort of Google profiles set up properly, here's what ends up happening. They're going to be scrolling through Google on page number one and they're going to see your firm with five stars that are all bright and orange from Google's rating and then they're going to see the next financial advisor that has no stars and that's just because they're abiding by all of the rules... they haven't done anything wrong and neither one has done anything wrong.
 But that's just the reality of sort of how these things differ. Well, what do you think ends up happening, when you have a very white page with blue text, the Google page, and then all of a sudden you're searching for a financial advisor and there's five stars in bright orange underneath a particular advisor? Well, just because psychologically it's a pattern interrupt, that we see orange on the page. We are more inclined to go look at that advisor.
 We are more inclined to go see and click on that advisor and maybe visit their website or learn more about them than the person who has no reviews and who has just the sort of same, that blends in with everybody else on Google. Here's the thing, you're going to get more clicks to your website if you have these things. Again, we're not asking for them. We're just abiding by all the rules. People may go do these things on their own accord.
 That being said, if someone on their own accord decides to go leave you a review and they leave you a one star review, it's not going to look very good for you when you have a single orange star versus someone else who has no reviews. But the client doesn't know any better or someone else who has five stars or another advisor who has five stars. It makes it a really interesting sort of game to play and ultimately, and I use the word game sort of loosely because at the end of the day, since we can't ask for these reviews, we can't solicit them, we can't them on our website. We can't do anything with them.
 It ultimately has to stem back to customer service and how you actually go out of your way to wow them, to knock their socks off, to impress them, to say, "Oh my gosh, this person remembered my anniversary and my birthday and I get something from them at Christmas every year and my gosh, they're unbelievable. I feel so compelled to go write something nice about them somewhere." That's the best you can hope for. That's it, that's the best that you can hope for.
 That's the reality because again, we're not soliciting these things, but if you knock their socks off, many people are inclined to go do these things. Here's some stats that I found really interesting before, as we were sort of prepping for this episode, is that 97% of individuals now check reviews before making a decision. This is the Amazon culture that we now live in. Is that you're going to check the reviews, you're going to compare them from one to another and then that helps to make your decision.
 And then 70% of individuals trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. That's just, it blows me away, I can't even understand how we've come to that as a culture. But it makes sense when you think of the Amazon culture and we want answers now and we live in a society where you can say anything you want on the internet.
 So that being said, it is in your best interest to continue to offer amazing service, continue to offer far more than above average service to just knock the socks off of your clients, to be really clear and concise of who you're serving. And maybe you have limitations or you have safeguards in place to prevent some of those less than ideal clients from getting in the door to minimize the downside and potentially maximize the upside while again, abiding by all of the rules.
Brittany Anders: You know what, Draye? You made me think of something as you were talking there about gifting and really treating people in an extraordinary way and just showing that you see them, that you care, that you acknowledge their needs as human beings. It made me think of a situation that we actually dealt with within Sweet Financial, where we had a client, definitely exceeded our minimum asset requirement, came on board.
 We had sent the 90 day kind of like welcome gift, you're part of the family now. You know when you come to Sweet Financial, we are going to love on you hard. We come at you arms wide open and you're truly part of our family because we respect what you're doing, number one, for our business and we're excited to be able to be on this journey with you, right. So we had this individual, he came back and he's like, "Don't send me gifts. Just manage my finances." Huh? All right, well-

Draye Redfern: Oh, that's crazy.

Brittany Anders: Right, so we kind of were taken aback, we're like, "Oh my gosh, somebody doesn't want to accept our gift, what is this about?" So as we took a step back, we're like, "Man, when we went through this process, yeah, he met our minimum as far as assets go, but not necessarily fit into our culture, right?" So when we were going through that uncovering process, it was a good learning experience for us because we're like, "Hey, now this person is actually outside of our system. They're outside of our normal process."
 You can absolutely streamline your gifting process. That's what we do at Sweet Financial. There's a million different resources out there that you can use to do that. So now not only do we have somebody who is telling us, "Hey, don't do what you do best, that's not what I want." But now we have an exception to the rule. Now we have to create a completely separate process for them to make sure that we don't gift them because they told us that they don't want to, they don't want to be part of that. They don't want to be part of our actual culture.
 And to take that a step further, there's a saying everybody's heard, "Treat people the way that you want to be treated." Right, so we talk about that. You tell your kids that, you tell your grandkids that, you tell your friends that, you whatever, treat me the way that you want to be treated. I think that's baloney, right? I think that is just not the right mindset.
 So when you're looking at business, when you're looking at growing raving fans, when you're looking at attracting and repelling. You want to repel the people that don't fit your model, don't fit your culture, both with your team and with your clientele. You have to look at treating people the way they want to be treated, right? You have to take that view, that approach if you want to truly build that raving fan base. So, for instance, if we would have continued to treat this gentleman, who we brought on board, the way that we want to be treated because we like gifts, we like being loved on, we would've probably lost him as a client.
 We made the conscious decision to take him on. Now we have to treat him the way that he wants to be treated in order to vet and mitigate any chance for a negative mindset or negative thoughts against our company. So you see here how this is a little bit of a trickle effect. You have to do your due diligence up front with making sure they match your company and making sure they match your culture.
 They match your ideals, otherwise you're going to have one off processes. You're going to have to focus on mitigating any sort of risk of a negative review, negative verbiage out there. And it's just so important to really stand by what we're talking about today in the early stages. So you don't have to deal with what Draye's wife had to deal with, right? You don't have to deal with that negative, that clientele that you're like, "Man, yeah, I'll take them on." But maybe my gut tells me that something's not quite right here.

Draye Redfern: There's a lot of things there that I 100% agree with, Brittany. I think that it really comes down to the fact of being clear in your intake process. And then now this guy's got great assets, but now you have to make certain special arrangements or move him from sequences and things. All of the automation and all of the amazing things that you guys have done, you now have to consciously go in and remove him from all of these things that you've taken time to build to then appease him.
 So it just goes back to the whole idea of vet your people early, your potential prospects, your clients, whatever it is, whatever you want to call them, to minimize the downside, maximize the upside. There's a lot here to maybe to go through and I wouldn't be surprised because we've had that conversation many times, is where there's probably financial advisors who don't even know that they have positive reviews sitting out there, either positive or negative.
 They're just like, maybe they don't Google their own business often or they don't realize that Yelp or some of these other companies created a business profile for them on their behalf because they're just, they're so generous and they're so amazing, not. And that business profile that was created on your behalf happened to have either a positive review or a negative review.
 And like we said earlier, there's nothing that you can do about some of those things. So if it would help, we can do a deeper dive review search for you. It's a free service we can do with your Ultimate Advisor coaching and the podcast. Just go to ultimateadvisorcoaching.com/reviews and as a result of going through this crazy lawsuit that we went through, we have a software that will allow us to do a deep dive search on a lot of the platforms out there, where you can leave reviews, where individuals can leave reviews on your behalf.
 When you do that, I would not say we're going to be able to find everything under the sun, but it may help streamline the fact of realizing that you have some good stuff out there already or you have some bad stuff you may want to to mitigate and go clean up. Either way, a completely free service that we can offer you guys just for listening to the podcast because we appreciate you and we want to offer more than above average service, even to our wonderful podcast listeners. So I hope you guys take advantage of that.

Brittany Anders: Yeah, I think that Draye, you bring up such a valid point with a lot of advisors. They just don't know what's out there on them. The social media world, the just online presence itself, it's just so good to be mindful of what's out there on you. When you look at a lot of the advisory world, a lot of our target demographic is people who are nearing retirement. So when you're looking at wealth management as a whole, that's a lot of the advisors that we work with is they're dealing with kind of that 55 to 65 plus range, people who need some planning.
 That's what helps us be able to differentiate in what the services that we offer and that we provide. Those people actually are very active on Facebook. You might be surprised to hear that, but there's actually studies behind that. Draye, you probably have the stats on that somewhere, that actually, that demographic, that generation is very active on Facebook. That's how they stay in touch with extended family members, longterm friends.

Draye Redfern: That's how they see the family pictures.

Brittany Anders: Yeah, that's exactly it. Yeah, that's what they're going on there for, is they're staying in touch and that's how they stay connected. So that being said, it means that, that generation is actually fairly savvy when it comes to the review concept that we're talking about, when it comes to being on the internet, when it comes to being able to give you something very negative or very positive.
 So just be mindful of that and do your due diligence. Draye, that's a super generous offer, to be able to go deep for people. And I encourage you individually, to have some sort of a reminder pop up on occasion throughout the year, to just Google yourself. If nothing else, Google your company and see what pops up. Because again, in our industry, we absolutely cannot ask for testimonials. We can't ask for reviews, we can't ask for ratings. But on the flip side of that, you also can't stop people from doing whatever the heck they want to do because the internet is a crazy place, right?
 There's people that can do, say, put out their whatever it is they want. So just be mindful. Have that be part of your due diligence. Just like you prepare for an audit, just like you prepare for making sure that your onboarding processes is dialed in because you want to wow your client. You need to do that damage control as well. You need to make sure that you minimize any risks, that you minimize any opportunity for somebody to put something out there that's not true or that could be damaging to your reputation, that you have worked so stinking hard to build.
Draye Redfern: That being said, if you want to take us up on the complimentary review search, just go to ultimateadvisorcoaching.com/reviews, R-E-V-I-E-W-S and we'll be able to do a deep dive on the reviews sitting out there for you. So that being said, hope you got a lot of value out of this one. It's probably a topic you're not going to hear too much about on many other podcasts because a it's frankly just different and a lot of people are sort of afraid of even touching this or broaching this. So hopefully, you got a lot of value out of this. Hopefully opened your eyes to a couple of different things and we're looking forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Ultimate Adviser podcast. So we'll see you there.
 Hey there, Draye Redfern here and before you go, we just wanted to say thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Ultimate Advisor podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe to the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify, and be sure to rate us five stars on iTunes because when you do, you'll be entered into a monthly drawing for our Ultimate Advisor coaching program, which is a $2,000 value.
 And if you would like to access more of the show notes, additional resources in our free premium content, then please visit ultimateadviserpodcast.com. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Ultimate Advisor podcast. We'll see you there.

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About The Ultimate Advisor Podcast:
The Ultimate Advisor podcast is a business podcast for financial advisors who are looking to grow their advising practices with greater ease and effectiveness. Ultimate Advisor was developed to help financial advisors master their marketing, sell their services with greater authority, generate repeat clients, and additional revenue in their business.
Each week, your hosts Draye Redfern, Bryan Sweet, and Brittany Anderson will share some of the closest guarded secrets from successful financial advising practices across the U.S.  

Draye Redfern

Draye is also the founder of UltimateAttorney.com which helps Attorneys go from “Surviving” to “Thriving” in their business.  In addition, Draye helps to provide insurance solutions to more than 8,600 law firms across the United States annually.

Bryan Sweet

Founder of Sweet Financial, CEO, Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Creator of The Dream Architect™
Co-founder of Dare to Dream Enterprises
Creator of Elite Wealth Advisor Symposium
Author of 3 books – Dare to Dream: Design the Retirement You Can’t Wait to Wake Up To, Imagine. Act. Inspire. A Daily Journal and Give & Grow: Proven Strategies for Starting an Running and Effective Study Group

Brittany Anderson

Director of Operations at Sweet Financial, Office Manager, RJFS
Co-founder of Dare to Dream Enterprises
Author of 2 books – Imagine. Act. Inspire. A Daily Journal & Dare to Dream: Design the Retirement You Can’t Wait to Wake Up To
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