Online Referral Services Under the Microscope

Advisors have a love-hate relationship with the online directories that put their names in front of the public. On the one hand, they say, these services don’t exactly deliver a flood of leads. On the other hand, just one juicy prospect who turns into a long-term client will amply justify the cost of the listing. Since directories don’t generally charge a fortune, most advisors use one or two as part of their marketing arsenal alongside other, more expensive prospecting options. And with innovative newcomers entering the listing business, advisors can choose a directory that fits their style.

“You need multiple avenues of attraction, and it doesn’t cost you a lot to try these services out,” says David Edwards, a former Morgan Stanley fixed-income specialist who runs Heron Financial Group in New York and manages $143 million. Edwards maintains profiles on the 9-year-old Paladin Registry and on GuideVine, a new service with a social-media feel that targets young investors in New York and San Francisco. He spends $190 a month on Paladin, which has sent him one qualified referral in the past three months. “It’s not a fire hose of prospects, but we think it’s worthwhile,” he says. As for GuideVine, which charges advisors a one-time $500 set-up fee, Edwards likes the site’s matchmaking style; advisors make videos so prospects can get to know their approach to financial planning.

Read the entire article at Financial Advisor IQ.