5 Tips for RIAs Looking to Build a Strong Website

Having a strong online presence is not a matter of choice. It is an absolute necessity in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Your website is the world’s window into your firm and its capabilities. Its look, features, and functionality have the potential to help or harm your practice. Ideally, your website should be a resource for existing clients that helps cement their connection to your firm, as well as a business-development tool that creates a favorable first impression on prospective clients.

RIAs who are thinking about building a website or redesigning an existing website may wish to start with the following five steps:

  1. Talk to your clients to gain a solid understanding of the functionality and features they need and expect from your website.
    Plan and design your website to be client-centric, from start to finish. It’s not about what you think is appealing, it’s about your clients’ experience.
  2. Make sure your web page design is modern looking, clean, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate so clients can find the functions and features they want and will use most.
    Don’t take a “do-it-yourself” approach to web design unless your firm has a dedicated web-development staff. Creating a good user experience is imperative. You expect your clients to seek your professional expertise in financial planning; you should do the same and seek the expertise of web development specialists.
  3. Use high-resolution images and graphic elements, including video, that help create an identity for your firm and tie into larger themes.
    Stock photos and images (beaches, sunsets, wineries, etc.), distracting backgrounds or group photos of your team on your home page are simply not effective. All images and graphics should serve to enhance the content of your website and be contextually relevant. Photos of individual team members are more appropriate inside your website on a biographies page. Such photos help humanize your team and enable you to showcase each team member’s experience, background, and education. Group photos and/or videos of team members leading client seminars, engaging in community outreach, and performing volunteer activities may be used in a “news” section of your website. All photos and videos should be high-resolution digital images that look professional.
  4. Seek ways to continually engage users by offering robust content that is updated regularly and is optimized for search engines by using key words.
    Engage visitors to your website with content that is relevant to them, timely, and refreshed regularly. Content may include news about your firm, relevant blogs, analyses, and commentaries by members of your firm, and thoughts on big-picture investment themes. Consider linking to content created by your top asset manager. Offer users the opportunity to subscribe to newsletters and other materials. Be sure to optimize your content with keywords, phrases, and topics that are relevant to your clients and prospective clients. Keyword optimization enables online search engines such as Google to identify your website and increases the likelihood users will find it and visit it. Add metrics-tagging functionality that allows you to see where users navigate and what is most/least important to them.
  5. Display your firm name and contact information in several prominent places.
    Make it easy for clients and prospects to engage with your firm. Include relevant phone numbers and email addresses, and add links to your firm’s social network sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any others.