The power of good web design for advisers: making the intangible, tangible.

Wealth management is an intangible service. We don’t sell widgets. We can’t pull out a flashy demonstration kit. Making our product look sexy essentially involves wearing matching socks and binning that mauve tie from Christmas 1973.

There are ways though – beyond the socks – to represent our intangible market expertise as a tangible product, worth paying for.

Everything that represents your firm to clients should scream from the rooftops about just how much value and worth there is in your advice. It should separate you from the competition, elevate your knowledge above others, build your image; turn your intangible advice into a tangible product offering.

Too often, advisers get the socks right, hand over an embossed business card and even pick a tie that doesn’t induce hallucinogenic shock. Then, they send you to their new website.

Invariably the new websites advisers go for are technical-led. They favour technical descriptions of products and services and they favour standard minimalist design work over bespoke schemes. If there’s coherency then it’s at the cost of innovation. Although we’ve typically moved on from blocky analogue sites, advisers still manage to pick bland structures with no perceived value. Clients who log on can find what they need, but do they understand it and is it located within something that reflects how worthwhile it will be putting this particular adviser in control of their finances? Frequently the answer is ‘no’.

Picture it a different way. A wealthy prospective client travels to the nearest town to meet with two financial advisers. Both plan to pick the client up from the train station. One arrives in a Datsun Cherry, the other pulls up in an Audi.

This isn’t about being flash – the car metaphor is equally well-served by replacing the Audi with a nice new Vectra or Mondeo – but rather it is about reflecting that you recognise your high-worth client will be making visual value judgements based on his or her first interactions with you.

In the above example the client knows nothing about the return on investment each adviser can offer, the outstanding record in the industry of each prospective firm, the market-leading delivery of client service.

What the client does know is that one car looks better than the other, and that’s the one they’re going to climb into. They have made a decision about your intangible ‘product’, based on the tangible visual information you have put in front of them.

The same principle applies to web design. It isn’t the only way to demonstrate your credibility. We believe that you can do that through a variety of online factors, including blogging, video marketing and other methods, but we also recognise that not everyone has the time to dedicate to all of those ideas.

So, web design becomes an easy way, in an intangible marketplace, to present yourself exceptionally and for others to recommend you as likewise. High concept web designs stand out from the crowd, build your brand, show clients that your advice is what they should be listening to.

It is your Audi to their Datsun; your embossed business card to their empty holder; your matched socks to their odd ones.

A client who visits a design-led website will see that you have thought about how you present yourself, and that you think about what you do within your business and for your clients. Just like all of the above, it is a reflection of you and the service you offer: a way of making the intangible, tangible.

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